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What game have you just finished?

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TimovieMan - 11 February 2019 08:55 AM

Traveling from location to location is done through some sort of flight simulator. It’s pretty simple and actually very manageable, but unfortunately the graphics are piss-poor and were very outdated even back in 1989. The landscape you’re flying over is just a green blotch, with some gray for urban areas and blue for water. Mountains are brown triangles (that you can fly against with no damage taken), and the very few buildings that were added, are just plain gray blocks. Far too little detail to be interesting. And it wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t need to fly dozens and dozens of times throughout the game, turning this into quite the tedious pastime. It almost boils down to several minutes of flight sim for every minute of non-flight in-game…
Fortunately, there’s an autopilot function where the game flies for you, but sadly you still have to watch the entire flight - it doesn’t skip to the end.
Eventually, you just turn on the autopilot and go do something else away from the computer for a few minutes.

If you’re wondering why they even put the flight simulator in the game, that’s because they were recycling it from their previous game, Echelon, a sci-fi game about solving some archeological mystery on an alien planet. (I remember that my Dad played it for a while, but it was huge and tedious and he gave up long before he managed to fill out the entire map that came in the box, let alone decipher the aliens’ language.)

The game has a great storyline to discover and it handles its comedy well. It’s just very sad that all that is wrapped in gameplay that is highly repetitive and so very very tedious. Mean Streets has great potential but doesn’t deliver because it spends too much time doing other things that are nowhere near as fun as the adventuring parts…
A missed opportunity, but still a solid starting point for the rest of the series as long as the other games shift their focus (which apparently, they do).

Sounds like you’ll enjoy Overseer, then. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it at some point around 2059.

     
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Kurufinwe - 11 February 2019 11:26 AM

If you’re wondering why they even put the flight simulator in the game, that’s because they were recycling it from their previous game

Like I suspected then: cheap padding. Smile

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it at some point around 2059.

     

Last played: Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 3/5 | Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds - 3/5 | Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5

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Kurufinwe - 11 February 2019 11:26 AM

If you’re wondering why they even put the flight simulator in the game, that’s because they were recycling it from their previous game, Echelon, a sci-fi game about solving some archeological mystery on an alien planet. (I remember that my Dad played it for a while, but it was huge and tedious and he gave up long before he managed to fill out the entire map that came in the box, let alone decipher the aliens’ language.)

Interesting! I actually liked the flight sim parts, I thought they really added to the feel of the game (though I cut my teeth on games like Cholo and Mercenary, so that probably contributes). That said, I did play Mean Streets some time ago when I had more time for playing games, so maybe I’d be less patient now. Hmm. I wonder if Echelon is available anywhere…

     
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Cross-post from the Contradiction thread:



Contradiction - 3/5


It’s a solid FMV murder mystery that unfortunately, due to its budget constraints, leaves quite a few threads hanging at the end. This makes for a lacklustre ending to an otherwise very enjoyable game.

It’s great to finally get some FMV games with high quality video, and this one even has some pretty good acting as well. Especially of note is the father-and-son duo of Paul and Ryan Rand, played by Paul Darrow and John Guilor respectively. Paul Darrow gives us a character whose slow and poignant enunciation is often reminiscent of Alan Rickman, and who speaks all lines with a smugness that has to be seen to be believed. John Guilor delivers a more varied but equally campy performance (perhaps my favourite one in the game). They’re both the guys you love to hate, which is a large part of what makes this game fun.
Opposed to this, we have Rupert Booth as DI Jenks who gives us a more goofy and whimsical performance, but who nonetheless also adds to the campy nature of this game. It makes for a compelling, off the wall experience.

The murder mystery itself is quite interesting in its own right, in part because of the Phoenix Wright-style contradictions to find that invariably get you closer to solving the case, and in part because the well fleshed out cult-like Atlas organisation provides a welcome amount of depth.
Sadly, because this was made on a shoestring budget, several plot lines had to be dropped which make the ending feel a bit underwhelming.

Still, I enjoyed the game and ultimately clocked in at over 6 and a half hours, which is a fair length, imo.

     

Last played: Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 3/5 | Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds - 3/5 | Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5

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Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring

The first Frogwares Sherlock Holmes game I played was the third in the series, The Awakened, and I liked it well enough (despite some misgivings) to play all the subsequent games as they were released. I caught up on the first one, Mystery of the Mummy, when it came out on the NDS (it’s awful!), which left The Case of the Silver Earring, which I bought ages ago but for some reason never played—until now!

It’s a fairly interesting mystery, and is much more typical of the actual Holmes stories than the silly gimmicks used in many of the other Frogwares games. (Sherlock vs. Cthulhu! Sherlock vs. Arsène Lupin! Sherlock vs. Jack the Ripper! Sherlock vs. ... himself?!?) It starts with the murder of a rich industrialist, and the story gets more complicated from there as Holmes digs into the victim’s past.

Graphically, the game hasn’t aged well. The 3D character models, in particular, look awful, as is usually the case with games from the early 2000s. Apart from that, it plays pretty smoothly—except for some ridiculously horrible movement controls. I mean, 3rd person point-and-click has been a solved problem for 30 years and there’s no reason why it has to be so clunky here. Generally, it’s little more than a mild annoyance, but it gets more egregious in two sequences: a stealth sequence and a timed maze. I found the former bearable (if totally unnecessary), but went straight to a map for the latter, because life’s too short.

Apart from those two sequences, the gameplay is mostly investigative in nature, which means a lot of pixel hunting as Holmes scours locations for clues. It gets frustrating when Holmes refuses to leave a place because you haven’t found all the clues yet but gives no indication as to what to look for—especially since some of those hotspots are really easy to miss!

The other big part of the game are the quizzes that conclude each day. You have to answer half a dozen yes/no questions and back up your answers with the clues (conversations, observations and documents) you’ve found. This is fun, and a good precursor to the deduction system that the series introduced in Jack the Ripper and perfected in Crimes & Punishments. However, those quizzes only cover a fraction of the plot, leaving me at times a bit confused about the rest.

This all comes to a head after the final quiz, which leads to an optional quiz that asks you to point-blank name the culprit(s) in each of the murders. So the game goes from asking you to make small deductions about fairly minor points to just working out the whole convoluted case on your own! It doesn’t really matter, though, since, whether you solve that or not, you’re then treated to a ridiculously long video of Holmes explaining the whole case in detail.

That felt disappointing! I wanted to crack the case, and I had figured out a lot of it. With something like the progressive deduction system of Crimes & Punishments, I could probably have done it, instead of feeling frustrated with this passive resolution.

(I guess that’s very Holmesian, in a way. The reason why I’ve always liked Poirot and Marple more than Holmes is that Christie always gives you all the clues to solve the mystery, and fully expects you to try, whereas Doyle’s stories are closer to a magic trick, where you just sit there passively, waiting to be wowed.)

At the end of the day, The Case of the Silver Earring is a fun enough Holmesian mystery. It feels rough at times, but the case is interesting and the game does a pretty good job of capturing the investigative aspects of the story, which is something I really enjoyed. It pales in comparison to Frogwares’ more recent offerings (esp. Crimes & Punishments and The Devil’s Daughter), but it’s definitely among the better of their early games, and I’m glad I’ve finally played it.

3/5

P.S.: Is it just me, or was the English version completely bungled? Some of the stuff hardly made any sense. I ended up switching to French halfway through the game, despite the awful voice acting in that version, so that I could at least follow the plot properly!

     
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Kurufinwe - 24 February 2019 08:26 AM

The reason why I’ve always liked Poirot and Marple more than Holmes is that Christie always gives you all the clues to solve the mystery, and fully expects you to try, whereas Doyle’s stories are closer to a magic trick, where you just sit there passively, waiting to be wowed.

That’s true, and I also love when I have enough “elements” to build the solution before it’s revealed, though it’s not without its merits (the way of telling the mystery, that is). I remember when I heard about Colombo TV series, and how the murderer is revealed right at the start, I though I wouldn’t enjoy it a bit, but I still did.

As for Frogwares Sherlock series, this one is the most “Holmesian”. Silver Earring & The Awakened & vs Arsene Lupin are all good on their own terms, though I feel like one would need to take the best parts of each and build one very, very good game. With “vs Jack the Ripper” the series went downhill in the difficulty department, which isn’t very Holmesian.

     

Recently finished: Four Last Things 4/5, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout 5/5, Chains of Satinav 3,95/5, A Vampyre Story 88, Sam Peters 3/5, Broken Sword 1 4,5/5, Broken Sword 2 4,3/5, Broken Sword 3 85, Broken Sword 5 81, Gray Matter 4/5\nCurrently playing: Broken Sword 4, Keepsake (Let\‘s Play), Callahan\‘s Crosstime Saloon (post-Community Playthrough)\nLooking forward to: A Playwright’s Tale

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Simon the Sorcerer

Never played it when it was released back in the 90’s, but picked it up a couple of weeks ago and finished it yesterday.
Really liked the pixel graphics, the nice music, the voice-acting and the humor.
The only criticism I have is some game bugs and a couple of illogical puzzles which I needed a walkthrough to help me figure out (something I otherwise try to avoid).

Altogether a nice game, and I now begin my adventures in “Simon the Sorcerer II”

     
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realMyst: Masterpiece Edition - 2.5/5

So, it finally happened.
I’ve finally played Myst.
Well, realMyst: Masterpiece Edition, so the graphics were updated and there was an extra age (Rime).
I took the “classic Myst view” which still used the original slides but had transitions between them. That way I didn’t get lost as often, while still maintaining most of the original’s gameplay (so no free movement, which is an option in realMyst).

I used to hate Myst with a passion. The first island is small, yet I still kept getting lost due to the clunky slide movement.
The transitions in realMyst remedy this for the most part, but often you’re still just turning around in circles because the actual “going forward” spot is either small or in an unintuitive place.

I also needed the help of a walkthrough in a few spots (especially on the first island, which lead to me hating the game back in the pre-internet days). Not all puzzles are properly clued, and some are just downright tedious. The mine cart race from the Selenetic Age in particular, because it uses sounds (with the clues for them being on another age), is a tad too long for comfort, and needs to be repeated if you want both the blue and the red page. I even had to complete it three times (because I wasn’t carrying a page the first time).

But at least the scenery is nice, and there are some puzzles in the game that are well thought-out and properly clued-in so you can figure them out on your own. And the story of Atrus and his sons, while minimal, is pretty enjoyable.
I’ve watched all four endings (freeing Sirrus, freeing Achenar, joining Atrus without the page and the proper ending. What the proper ending is, is pretty easy to determine. Achenar is an obvious psycho, and Sirrus, while smooth talking, is a smug snake.

I liked that, after the ending in realMyst, you get access to another Age that was not in the original game, the Rime Age. The puzzle in that leads to a teaser image for Riven and a note from Catherine which also serves to tease Riven. Unfortunately, that’s about all the payoff you get for this Age.

In conclusion, while I have changed my opinion of Myst somewhat, the game is still a bit uneven, and it’s clear that it’s less my type of preferred game. Fortunately the realMyst edition mitigates some of my biggest gripes with the original.

     

Last played: Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 3/5 | Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds - 3/5 | Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5

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Yeah, Myst isn’t all that great, and I agree that the island of Myst is the worst part of it. It doesn’t feel like a real world, just a ridiculously complicated collection of puzzles dropped on an island for no good reason. I liked the Channelwood Age, though.

If you plan on moving on to Riven, I strongly, strongly recommend reading The Book of Atrus first. It contains a tonne of background info on the world, story and characters, and it’s a surprisingly good read in its own right!

(You can skip the other two books in The Myst Reader. The Book of Ti’Ana is a prequel about the D’ni civilisation; I found it mind-numbingly dull. The Book of D’ni takes place between Riven and Myst III, but doesn’t really connect to either game’s events.)

     
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TimovieMan - 27 February 2019 06:57 AM

The mine cart race from the Selenetic Age in particular, because it uses sounds

Myst was the game that got me into adventure gaming in the mid 90’s. I loved it then and replay the whole series quite often. Riven is one of my favorite games.

The mine cart puzzle in Myst is indeed pretty badly designed. The first time around I actually solved it by mapping the whole thing, trying to go in every possible direction until I got where I was supposed to go. I hadn’t yet encountered the clues needed to solve it the easier way. Still have the map over the rail system somewhere.Smile

 

     
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Veovis - 27 February 2019 10:25 AM

The mine cart puzzle in Myst is indeed pretty badly designed. The first time around I actually solved it by mapping the whole thing, trying to go in every possible direction until I got where I was supposed to go. I hadn’t yet encountered the clues needed to solve it the easier way. Still have the map over the rail system somewhere.Smile

Thanks so much for sharing that - I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!

     
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Kurufinwe - 27 February 2019 08:01 AM

Yeah, Myst isn’t all that great, and I agree that the island of Myst is the worst part of it. It doesn’t feel like a real world, just a ridiculously complicated collection of puzzles dropped on an island for no good reason. I liked the Channelwood Age, though.

Fully agree. And I liked Channelwood best too.


Thanks for the book suggestion!

     

Last played: Anna’s Quest (CPT) - 4.5/5 | Simon the Sorcerer II: The Lion, the Wizard and the Wardrobe - 4/5 | Florence - 4/5 | Alice Trapped in Wonderland - 1/5 | The Hunt for the Lost Ship - 1.5/5 | The Talos Principle - 4/5 | Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum - 3/5 | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - 3/5 | Simon the Sorcerer (replay) - 4/5 | Portal 2 - 4/5 | Murder By Numbers - 3.5/5 | Heavy Rain - 3.5/5 | Disco Elysium - 4.5/5 | Freddi Fish 2: The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse - 3/5 | Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds - 3/5 | Whispers of a Machine (CPT) - 4/5 | Beneath a Steel Sky (CPT) - 3/5 | 3 in Three - 3.5/5 | Puzzle Gallery: At the Carnival - 2.5/5 | The Fool’s Errand (replay) - 3/5 | The Dig (replay) - 4.5/5

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Kurufinwe - 27 February 2019 08:01 AM

Yeah, Myst isn’t all that great, and I agree that the island of Myst is the worst part of it. It doesn’t feel like a real world, just a ridiculously complicated collection of puzzles dropped on an island for no good reason. I liked the Channelwood Age, though.

We can agree on Channelwood at least, but I liked Myst itself - indeed it doesn’t feel like a real place but I liked the sense of hyper-reality, the strong visuals and sense of significance to each thing there. It reminded me a bit of Portmeirion:
https://portmeirion.wales/
(thinking about it, the Stoneship age may well be a deliberate reference!)

     
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I haven’t played any Myst yet, never looked my type of game, but I will give it a try this year.

What I do have played is Goetia, fascinating and different game, which despite a couple of obscure puzzles and the fact you need some musical knowledge, immerse yourself in the story of the Blackwood family and their mysteries.

It has made me enjoy and got in my nerves like no other game lately.

     

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Last night I finished The Return of the Obra Dinn. What a marvelous game. Mesmerizing gameplay, beautiful scenes, fantastic story, solid voiceacting. Some minor gameplay annoyances thanks to the retro graphics (is that a knife or a gun?) but I bet that’s just me and my dislike of pixel art in general. Enjoyment is what counts, so the game gets the full 5 stars from me.

I’m sure I missed interesting details and I will replay the game soon because I still have questions, even after the “secret” chapter.

PS: One of the “cons” in AG’s review: Some answers rely on guesswork or outside knowledge. That is simply not true. If the reviewer had to guess, he missed some details. Like I did at first…  Shifty Eyed ...but I got the hang of it.

     

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