Adventure News

June 2009



Latest Jonathan Boakes horror targets Halloween release

There will be plenty of suspense when players arrive back in Dowerton in Jonathan Boakes' highly anticipated Dark Fall: Lost Souls, but there will be no suspense about whether the game will find a publisher quickly, as Iceberg Interactive announced today that it will be releasing the game throughout Europe later this year.

The third installment of the Dark Fall series sends gamers back to the haunted train station and hotel first seen in the original Dark Fall: The Journal. Time has passed since your first adventure, and has not been kind to the buildings, so you must "watch your step, and never turn your back on the darkness...for something hides there; Something evil, unknowable and hungry. The dead of Dowerton are the least of your problems, as you are stalked from one derelict room to the next, by the Dark Fall itself. It wants your soul; to feed upon, devour and torture. You must make the ghosts of the hotel your ally, through any means you can. For it is only through successful exorcisms that you will gain the strength to battle the darkness that lurks in that long forgotten, abandoned place."

The slight downside to today's announcement is that the projected release date of Lost Souls has slipped a little, as the game is now being targeted for a Halloween release. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Dark Fall website, and stay tuned for an upcoming comprehensive interview with Jonathan Boakes right here at Adventure Gamers.



Commercial sequel to indie freeware hit Ben There, Dan That! now available for purchase

If you couldn't get enough of slackers Ben and Dan in their debut freeware adventure Ben There, Dan That!, now the pair have returned in a comic sequel called Time Gentlemen, Please!, which is now available for purchase and download.

That's right: purchase. Zombie Cow Studios has joined the growing ranks of independent developers who have left behind their freeware roots to pursue the obscene riches of commercial adventure games. And at only £2.99 (or "$5ish" by the developers' calculation), they should only need to sell about a zillion copies to accomplish just that. Then again, this represents "the cost of a pint in an overpriced London boozer" and who knows how many zillions of those have been sold.

Fortunately, Ben and Dan's latest misadventure looks to be bigger and better than its predecessor... at least, if body count is any indication. After the events of the first game, it turns out that "layabout geeks Dan and Ben find themselves as accidental and somewhat-neglectful Rulers of the Earth and as such, proud owners of 6 billion corpses. What’s more, ‘fixing everything up’ by craftily popping back in time has resulted in an alternate-universe Hitler with an entire army of goose-stepping Nazi dinosaur clones! Whoopsie!"

It's up to players to help repair what Ben and Dan have "fixed" in this point-and-click adventure with simple but stylish graphics (featuring "over-indulgent use of all the different colours", as its creators proudly declare). It isn't necessary to play the original game to understand the events of the sequel, as a quick summary will bring new players up to speed, though of course, being free, there isn't much excuse not to.

Time Gentlemen, Please! is available only through download, and can be purchased directly from the official website, where you can also find a playable demo.



Ransom of the Seven Ships playable sampler and minigame now available

High seas adventure has even reached the Nancy Drew series this summer, as Her Interactive today released the official demo for the new mystery Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships.

The 20th instalment in the popular series sees Nancy Drew in the Caribbean with her best friends Bess and George, but disaster strikes when Bess is kidnapped. It’s not only Bess that’s missing, though, and it’s up to Nancy and George to recover a lost treasure on an adventure that will lead across their tropical resort island and beneath the waves around them.

The demo kicks off near the start of the game, depicting Nancy’s arrival on the island as a distressed George (seen for the first time) fills Nancy in on the kidnapping and gives her an unusual ransom note with a particular list of tasks to accomplish.

Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships will be available on July 14th, but for those who want to investigate sooner, the demo is available from the official website (in the “Download Demo Games” section in the bottom right corner), along with a playable minigame from the full title.



Outcry developers tackle prequel to Russian film

The former Russian KGB has always been renowned for its ruthless tactics, and in Phobos: 1953, players will get a chance to take a first-hand peek into the truth behind that reputation.

The new game by Phantomery Interactive, the studio behind last year's Outcry, sends players into an underground shelter that houses prisoners for KGB research. Based on real events about human experimentation in the fields of fear, telepathy, and psychological limitations, the game challenges players to discover the secrets of the terrifying events of 1953, facing their own worst phobias in the process while an invisible observer communicates through the broadcast system.

Phobos: 1953 is a prequel to the current Russian film called Phobos, and promises to photo-realistically reconstruct its historical setting, as the shelter's depiction is based on "real military objectives, text materials used historically valid documents."

No firm release date has yet been announced, even for Russia, and if you look up "niche" in the dictionary, you might find "Russian movie tie-in adventure game". So the project will have its work cut out for it in reaching international audiences, but here's hoping that the intriguing subject matter and the success of Outcry will help ensure its widespread release.



New video offers teaser of independent psychological horror due next year

On the long road to Mile of Crying, independent Polish studio Fearless has now taken gamers on the first step with the release of a new teaser.

In this psychological horror game, players control a man named Adam, who suffers from an unusual form of amnesia. He knows who he is and recognizes his surroundings, but there are specific memories of his past that are blocked. Now plagued by horrifying dreams, Adam feels the need to return to a particular small town in order to unlock the mystery behind these missing pieces.

In his travels, Adam will vist such locations as the psychiatric hospital seen in the trailer and an orphanage. He'll find more than a little resistance, however, as some of the local townspeople will go to great lengths to keep their secrets safe.

There is still a long way to go before the game's targeted launch of late 2010, but in the meantime, for more information about Mile of Crying, be sure to check out the official website.



Viva Media to publish WWI-era espionage thriller

There'll be some dancing over today's announcement that Viva Media will be publishing Mata Hari in North America within the next month. Players will be dancing for joy, of course, over the long-delayed English release of the game since its German launch last year, and then a little more after climbing into the shoes of the exotic dancer-turned-spy when the game finally arrives.

Now featuring the tag line "Betrayal is Only a Kiss Away", the WWI-era espionage thriller casts players in the title role, requiring both cunning resourcefulness and enchanting feminine wiles to uncover secrets on behalf of the French military intelligence... unless she's really a double-agent for the German government. In Mata Hari, as the world rushes unwittingly towards an unprecedented global crisis, Mata herself is busy seducing high-ranking officials from the European elite who seem unable to resist her quest for illicit information.

Perhaps just as importantly, the game was designed by Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein, two LucasArts alumni most famous for their work on the classic Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Among the features the pair have brought to their latest project is a unique three-tiered thought icon system, adding a new layer of interactivity to the game. This system is described in some detail in our earlier preview of the game.

There is still no firm release date for the game as yet, and today's press release is quoted both as targeting "June" and "next month". It's coming soon, though, and for now that's enough, so stay tuned for more specific release details when it becomes available.



Trailer and playable flash sampler introduce White Birds' DS forensics investigation

In advance of the upcoming release of Crime Scene, a trailer and playable online demo now offer a first-hand look at the new forensic investigative adventure from White Birds for the Nintendo DS.

Also known as Criminology in parts of Europe, Crime Scene puts players in the role of Matt Simmons, a young detective recently promoted to the forensics team. Using nine different tools to locate and collect evidence, and another six tools to analyze it, players must then interrogate suspects and build a convincing case against the culprit with the clues uncovered, all under the watchful and cautious eye of your boss, Alexandra Malone.

For a more hands-on experience than simply watching the new video, the browser-based flash demo offers a few tutorial exercises to introduce some of the investigation and analysis elements. Though the online demo is done in simple point-and-click style, the full DS version will include additional gameplay features that make extensive use of the handheld's touch screen and stylus.

There is no firm release date yet for Crime Scene/Criminology, though the game is expected to be launched in some territories within the next month.



First three adventures now available online, with two more to follow

Many longtime adventure gamers have a special place in their hearts for Tex Murphy, the affable private detective in Access Software's acclaimed series. Newer adventure fans wonder what all the excitement is about, mainly because the five Tex Murphy games are just too hard to find or get running these days. Today, the good news for all concerned is that the series is now being offered on, a DRM-free download portal that specializes in XP and Vista-compatible older games.

For the time being, it's the first three games that are available for purchase. In one bundle for only $5.99 comes Mean Streets and Martian Memorandum, the two third-person games produced before the significant series switch to first-person FMV format for the final three titles. One of those is also being offered, as Under a Killing Moon can be purchased from GOG as well for a cost of $9.99. The remaining two games, The Pandora Directive and Overseer, are expected to be added shortly, with release targets simply listed as "soon".

For the uninitiated, Tex Murphy is a lovable but down-on-his-luck PI, highly reminscent of 1940s noir protagonists, but living in a futuristic, post-WWIII San Francisco. Always in need of a new case, Tex continually finds himself drawn unwittingly into far more than he's bargained for. Designed by Chris Jones (who plays Tex in the FMV titles) and Aaron Conners, who recently returned to the genre with the casual title 3 Cards to Midnight, the games are renowned for their rich character portrayals, complex storylines, and progressive design that many of today's releases are only starting to implement, with such features are difficulty settings, hint options, and branching plot paths.

You may have some luck finding used copies of the later Tex Murphy games on eBay, but this will be the first opportunity for many to play the first two games, and GOG's compatibility updates should help ensure they run smoothly even on newer computers. Along with LucasArts' upcoming re-release of Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, this is a good time for vintage games, it seems. They may not make 'em like they used to, but re-releasing the best ones they used to make isn't such a bad alternative.



PC version of "Muzzled!" available for purchase and download

Not to be lost in all the recent Monkey Island hoopla, Wallace & Gromit are quietly (in their endearingly reserved English way) continuing their Grand Adventures with today's release of the third episode, Muzzled!

In this episode, we learn that a local dog shelter was destroyed in last month's storm, setting loose three mischievous mutts that damage Wallace's new ice cream-making invention, the Infiniflavour. Meanwhile, a newcomer named Monty Muzzle has arrived in town with plans to hold a fun fair charity event to raise funds for a new shelter. Gromit noses out some ulterior motives, however, and it's up to the clever canine (with a little help from Wallace) to set things right.

Muzzled! can be purchased as a standalone episode or as part of the full-season package for PC from Telltale's official website, where you'll also find a free trial demo. The game will soon be offered through Xbox Live Arcade, but no firm release date has yet been disclosed.



Supernatural puzzle-adventure coming to a PC near you this fall

Puzzle fans looking forward to The Filmmaker can now get an early sample of what’s to come, as independent developer Christopher Brendel today released a demo for the upcoming game.

Unlike the developer’s previous games, The Filmmaker is a first-person supernatural adventure in the style of games such as Myst and The 7th Guest, with a heavier emphasis on exploration and puzzles. The demo features half of the game’s prologue, and players will be able to explore about half of the theatre in which the game is set, with six different puzzles to solve.

In the full game, as well exploring the rest of the haunted Carson Stiles Gateway Theatre while trying to solve its dark secrets, players will get to go inside several movies playing there as well, as the game attempts to “re-create the mood of classic Hollywood ‘B-movies’”. For a list of download links to the 537 MB demo, head over to the game’s official website.

The demo will need to hold you over a while longer than expected, as The Filmmaker has been pushed back from its anticipated June release to early fall, just in time for Halloween.



"The Search for the Lost Garden" launches new 3D series based on biblical backgrounds

It's been a long time since mankind was cast out of Eden, but if indie Dutch developer Vertigo Games has anything to say about it, there might finally be a way back in when Adam's Venture: The Search for the Lost Garden is released this summer.

As the debut standalone "episode" of an original franchise, The Search for the Lost Garden follows the pursuit of the titular protagonist in his quest for Eden some time in the 1920s. The fabled garden is said to be located at the intersection of four rivers, and Adam discovers a scroll that seems to pinpoint the location of these rivers during an excavation in an old Templar church in France. According to the official website, "soon after his discovery, Adam is approached by a large company, called Clairvaux Inc. They are willing to fund an expedition to search for Eden, mainly because they believe there are large amounts of gold located there. And so it comes to pass that they set out on a journey of a lifetime."

As seen in the game's trailer, Adam's Venture is not a traditional point-and-click offering, but a 3D adventure controlled with the keyboard. The game does feature some physical elements, such as shimmying across crumbling ledges, but according to the developer, such physical challenges are minimal, assuring concerned players that "Adam’s Venture has much more in common with the hardcore adventure genre than with games such as Tomb Raider." As Adam explores a large series of caverns, he will uncover many puzzles to solve and "find out more about the real reason behind the expedition, the caverns, and last but not least: himself."

Eden may be the first, but Vertigo hopes that it won't be the last recognizable destination for Adam Venture. The developer plans to continue the series with new installments every seven or eight months, each telling its own self-contained story that is "respectfully but loosely based upon bibilical backgrounds".

There are no firm release details yet for Adam's Venture: Episode 1 - The Search for the Lost Garden, but Vertigo expects to launch the game worldwide this summer, pursuing both online and retail distribution opportunities.



Playable sampler now available, with final release not far behind

With the launch of Return to Mysterious Island 2 drawing ever closer, players can now stick a first foot on the island with today's release of a playable demo.

The sequel to the popular 2004 hit sees players returning to -- or more accurately, failing to fully escape from -- the island originally imagined by Jules Verne and inhabited by Captain Nemo. In RTMI2, young Mina and her simian pal Jep must once again conquer the island's challenges and dangers, which this time include a mysterious green gas that's killing the local plant life.

The demo takes place at the start of the full game, and right away you'll notice one of the key changes in the sequel, as the playable character from the start is the little monkey Jep, who must tend to Mina's injuries before players can control her directly. Other changes will be noticeable on installation as well, as there are options even in the demo to enable the game's iPhone synchronization and in-game chat options. The file size is a fairly hefty 562 MB, and you can find a list of download links at the game's official website.

No firm release details have yet been announced for Return to Mysterious Island 2, but the game is expected to be launched (at least as a download) as early as some time later this month. For more details about the game, be sure to check out our recent preview.



"Save the World" debuts on Xbox Live Arcade this June

The first season of Telltale’s Sam & Max adventures, now titled Sam & Max Save the World, is coming to Xbox Live Arcade this month. The six-episode collection, which has already proved popular on the PC and Wii, will debut on the Xbox 360 with enhanced features especially designed for Microsoft’s console.

Surprisingly, the episodes won’t be available individually, but only as a full-season edition. Sam & Max Save the World has a loose plot which follows through all six episodes, starting with three former child stars who are helping to spread self help videos designed to hypnotise viewers. Each episode takes Sam & Max deeper into the mind control scheme on a trip that will lead them through a casino run by a oddly cuddly member of the mafia, the White House and finally to the moon. The Xbox 360 version of the game will feature achievements, widescreen and HD graphics support, and updated gameplay controls.

Anyone interested in playing the games on the Xbox should have a look at our first season review. Sam & Max Save the World will be available to download on Xbox Live Arcade for 1600 Microsoft points on June 17.



Video precedes release of "Snake in the Grass" later this month

The wait for the latest episode of the acclaimed FMV Casebook series has been a little longer than anticipated, but now a trailer for the Snake in the Grass has been released.

The video doesn’t give much away, but it does offer a sample glimpse of the latest mystery. The plot follows Detective Burton as he seeks a murderer in the small town of Garden. After someone is killed at the local chapel, the most likely suspect claims to be reformed, but when Burton’s old enemy appear to be covering up, he suspects someone else. It’s up to the player to interview the inhabitants of Garden and sort fact from fiction.

There’s no firm word yet on when Episode III will be released, but the developers are hoping to launch the new adventure later this month. For those who haven’t played the series, yet you can see what you’ve been missing by visiting the Casebook website, where you can even download a standalone playable demo called Episode 0: The Missing Urn.

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