Adventure News

September 2009



TAC to publish two German adventures within next two months

Two books of drastically different kinds are in the news today, as The Adventure Company has revealed its plans to publish Treasure Island and The Book of Unwritten Tales in October and November, respectively.

First up next month will be Treasure Island, a fairly faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel. Not to be confused with Kheops Studio's Destination: Treasure Island, this game from Radon Labs tells the story of 17-year old Jim Hawkins, who stumbles on a mysterious map leading to the legendary treasure of Captain Flint. Jim's fellow crewmembers aren't the most trustworthy, however, as some are determined to keep the riches for themselves. For additional details, be sure to check out our preview of the game.

In November comes a game that's been highly regarded in its native Germany since its release earlier this year. KING Art's A Book of Unwritten Tales is a humorous homage to the fantasy classics of all media. The game features four playable heroes: a little gnome, an elf princess, a human adventurer and 'The Critter', a shaggy creatures who's since gone on to be the star of a prequel called The Critter Chronicles. Each character's skills are integral to overcoming obstacles, and some can only be solved by working together as a team. You'll find more information in our Book of Unwritten Tales preview.

The Adventure Company has been quiet for most of this year, so this news marks a welcome return to the genre for the once-prominent publisher. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage of both games in the coming weeks.



Stylish full-fledged adventure from Samorost developer coming October 16th

Like other machines needing a good primer, now Machinarium has its own in the form of a playable demo just released.

The highly-anticipated adventure is the first full-fledged game from the creator of Samorost, in which players control a little robot cast out of a towering city into the outer junk-strewn wastelands. Solving a series of puzzles along the way, the robot must work its way back into the city, while players slowly uncover the reason for its predicament and the urgency behind its return.

For now, the demo is available from the German website DemoNews, but the language barrier isn't an issue. The game itself features no actual dialogue, so all you need to understand is "Download" and you're all set for grabbing the 31 MB sampler. The demo begins right at the start of the game, easing the player into Machinarium's gameplay through the first several levels.

For more information about Machinarium, be sure to check out our hands-on preview and pop over to the official website, where pre-orders are already being accepted. There isn't much longer to wait, either, as the game is due out on October 16th.



New trailers herald the release of full-roaming 3D adventure to stores

If you're in the UK, it's time to put on your spelunking boots, as today's release of Adam's Venture: Episode 1 - The Search for the Lost Garden is going to make you work for your rewards.

The Search for the Lost Garden is the debut of a new episodic series that puts players in the titular role of Adam Venture. During an excavation, Adam discovers an ancient scroll that seems to point to the precise location of the biblical Eden, and when approached by a corporation that is willing to fund the expedition to find it, Adam sets off on the journey of a lifetime, along with a little help from his girlfriend, his dog, and Professor Jacques Saint Omar.

A free-roaming, full 3D adventure created with the Unreal 3 engine, Adam's Venture will feature keyboard-controlled "action-oriented" gameplay, requiring players to engage in physical activities like running and jumping and climbing, but Dutch developer Vertigo Games claims that the game has many puzzles to solve and has much more in common with traditional adventure games than the action-adventures it appears to resemble.

While Adam's Venture is planned as an ongoing series, The Search for the Lost Garden is a "standalone" episode, and should be available at all major UK retailers soon.



Long-awaited Snake in the Grass episode coming October 30th

If the longer-than-expected delay of Casebook's third episode wasn't enough to make anxious for the FMV mystery series to continue, the two new trailers for Snake in the Grass should help build anticipation for the game's release next month.

The new investigation takes you (as the silent partner) and Detective James Burton to the small town of Garden, where a murder has occurred at the local chapel. Burton is convinced that an old nemesis is somehow behind the crime, but all signs point to another guilty party, so it'll be up to players to help determine the truth to ensure that justice is truly served.

The first trailer is a live-action film clip of an interview between Burton and an imprisoned man who claims that it was God who instructed him to make a cold-blooded "sacrifice", no questions asked. The second trailer sees Burton confronting his adversary with his suspicions. It should be noted, however, that this video includes spoilers for Episode II, so those who haven't played that game may want to avoid watching.

Now's a good time to get caught up on Casebook if you're new to the series. In preparation for the new installment's release on October 30th, both of the first two episodes are now on sale for half price at the developer's website, where you can also find a free standalone demo episode called "The Missing Urn".



Season's middle episode now available for PC download

The five-episode season of Tales of Monkey Island sinks to new depths (in a totally good way) with today's release of Chapter 3 - Lair of the Leviathan for PC.

The season's middle episode picks up where last month's cliffhanger left off, with Guybrush and "friends" trapped in a crisis that's... a little hard to stomach. Even amidst their most unusual circumstances, however, they soon meet up with the "long-lost (and obsessive-compulsive) explorer Coronado De Cava" and his motley crew, but face a whole new series of challenges both above and below water level in the pursuit of the sea sponge that will rid the world of the Pox of LeChuck.

At present, Lair of the Leviathan is available only for PC, and only as part of the full season of the Tales of Monkey Island. The episode is expected shortly on WiiWare, however, and if the first two episodes are any indication, the PC version may soon find its way to as a standalone purchase.

For more information about the series, head on over to the official website.



Wadjet Eye Games marks Yom Kippur with a weekend-only free game offer

In keeping with the spirit of the season, if you've never played Wadjet Eye's The Shivah, now's your chance to atone for that oversight. To help mark the occasion of Yom Kippur this weekend, the independent developer is offering the game absolutely free.

The Shivah puts players in the rather unorthodox (so to speak) role of Jewish Rabbi Russell Stone. With his congregation waning and his own devout beliefs becoming more embittered, Stone receives an unexpected surprise when a former member dies and leaves him a significant amount of money. What appears at first to be a gift from God, however, may not be quite what it seems, and players must guide the Rabbi across Manhattan to uncover the mystery behind the windfall.

Ironically, a version of this game was originally released as a freeware adventure before writer/designer Dave Gilbert upgraded the title and made it the launch point of his commercial career that now includes the Blackwell series and Emerald City Confidential.

What goes around comes around, then, but only for a limited time, as The Shivah is available free of charge only until Tuesday. To receive your free copy, simply order the game from the Wadjet Eye website and enter the coupon code "FreeShivah" during the purchase process.



Four-part steampunk fantasy adventure to launch in early 2010

Remember when we used to have to excuse independent adventures for their inferior graphics and other production values? With new games like Shades of Violet on the horizon, it looks like it’s time to put those standards to rest for good.

A new four-part episodic adventure by Imagineer Games, Shades of Violet follows the story of orphaned friends Violet Vendetta and Welma Watson. A mixture of both humour and drama, each episode will tell a self-contained tale, yet contribute to a broader story arc that takes the main characters around the world, further maturing them in each new adventure. Rowdy and mischievous with a knack for mysteries, Violet is “uncouth, unwashed and unfed”, while the older Welma is meek and uncertain at first about following in Violet’s troublemaking footsteps.

In the series’ debut episode, Song of the Clockwork Princess, trouble comes anyway, when Violet “discovers the secret behind the town's creator and his mysterious daughter”. At the same time, Violet learns of a secret power she possesses called the “blue flow”, which becomes integral to her investigation. As the situation escalates, eventually the girls become caught up in a secret war between the “greatest military organization in the world and the forces of ‘the Beign’, an entity that seeks to create a world without end.”

As seen in the first screenshots and trailer, the game is set in a fantasy world of “steam powered cities and gigantic airships to backwater towns and mystical places of ancient civilizations”, all presented in stylish hand-drawn graphics. The point-and-click interface will feature a verb coin mechanic called the “Trinity Dial”. The most prominent option of the dial is Violet’s blue flow, a “Scrying-telemetry power” that allows Violet to sense thoughts, emotions, and past events, which will be necessary in order to piece together the mystery.

According to project leader Heriberto Valle, Imagineer is currently aiming to complete Song of the Clockwork Princess in the first quarter of 2010, to be digitally distributed with a disc version available as well, along with the longer-term goal of releasing a full retail product with publisher support.



Video offers first teaser of next month's Warnings at Waverly Academy

The official trailer for the 21st Nancy Drew adventure, Warnings at Waverly Academy has been released by Her Interactive, and like many other students this time of year, Nancy Drew finds herself back in school.

In her 21st PC adventure, Nancy must thwart a series of attacks aimed at the valedictorian candidates of the exclusive all-girls boarding school Waverly Academy. Investigating undercover, Nancy must engage in “all the normal high school activities such as cramming for projects, navigating social cliques and even texting friends.”

The trailer introduces Nancy’s fellow residents at Waverly Academy, who tell of the unidentified attacker known as the ‘Black Cat’. We are also given a glimpse of some of the puzzles in the game, as well as some mysterious figures in black robes and deadly traps.

Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy will be available for purchase this October.



Quirky adaptation of Hamlet independently produced in Russia

What a piece of work is Gamelet, an upcoming quirky Russian adventure from mif2000.

Inspired by Hamlet, the new game is -- in the words of its solo developer himself -- a "twisted" adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. Players control a "man from the future", who arrives in Hamlet's time just as the Danish hero is about to seek revenge for the death of his parents and rescue his beloved Ophelia from her captors. Unfortunately, you crash land right on top of Hamlet, and must now assume his place in order to prevent the "history" of the world from radically changing.

Over the course of 5 chapters consisting of 25 individual locations, players must solve a series of logic-based environmental puzzles in order to proceed. Along the way, you'll meet the main characters in Hamlet, from Claudius and Polonius to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, plus some new characters as well. You'll also encounter all the key events of the play, though of course the game won't play out exactly like the original. There are even some lighthearted "boss fights" in Gamelet, though these are purely puzzle-based rather than action-oriented.

Gamelet features simple but stylish hand-drawn comic graphics, though the gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Samorost. The protagonist is mute (although the current goal can be identified through his emanating "thought bubbles"), and the interface uses a single cursor with no inventory, hotspots highlights or verbal/text feedback of any kind. This challenges players to work out solutions and successful sequences only through direct interaction and observation.

Working alone, mif2000 expects to be finished production within the next four months, and aims to release the game commercially both through digital distribution and on disc, with publisher negotiations currently ongoing. In the meantime, for additional information about the game and its characters, be sure to check out the Gamelet website.



First official teaser released for upcoming third and final installment

Focus Home Interactive has today released the first official teaser for the third and final installment in the Runaway series, A Twist of Fate.

The storyline follows on from The Dream of the Turtle, but promises to have a slightly darker edge than its predecessors. Players will also have the chance to finally control Gina Timmins for the first time, as well as regular series protagonist Brian Basco.

In the trailer we see Brian and Gina return in a series of explosive predicaments, with the usual (for Runaway) mix of evil villains and quirky characters. The video offers the first live peek at the new graphics engine used for the game, which will improve character animations and create a new inventory system where you can view objects from all angles.

Runaway: A Twist of Fate is scheduled for release this winter. Stay tuned for a preview of this game right here at Adventure Gamers in the coming weeks.



One-day-only free game promotion in honour of Talk Like a Pirate Day

To celebrate the International Talk Like a Pirate Day this Saturday, September 19th, Telltale Games will be giving away the first episode of the new Tales of Monkey Island series for free all day.

In the first of five episodes, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal marks Guybrush Threepwood’s long anticipated return and sees him once again washed up on a beach, away from his wife Elaine and the dread pirate LeChuck, after unleashing a pox that now threatens pirates all throughout the Caribbean.

Other piratey goodness is expected soon, as LucasArts will be releasing a free “lite” version of The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition for the iPhone/iPod Touch soon, but in the meantime, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal will be available as a PC download from Telltale’s website.



Twice in a Blue Moon available for purchase and download

Slowly but surely, the Women's Murder Club casual game series is catching up to James Patterson's original book series. Recently the gap got one step smaller with the release of Twice in a Blue Moon.

The third game once again puts players in the alternating roles of police detective Lindsay Boxer, coroner Claire Washburn, and reporter Cindy Thomas, each of whom plays a pivotal role in the investigation with their own unique contributions. In this game, they're up against a serial killer copying famous murderers from the past, leaving cryptic clues to his (or her) identity that the women hope to piece together before he's able to strike again.

Far more streamlined than traditional adventures, the Women's Murder Club series nevertheless goes beyond standard hidden object games with a heavy emphasis on story, narrative puzzle integration, and a variety of different tasks. This should come as no surprise, given the involvement of acclaimed adventure designer Jane Jensen as Creative Director of the games. Like its predecessors, Twice in a Blue Moon will continue that trend over the course of its nine investigations, though the new title significantly increases the seek-and-find tasks from the previous game.

At the moment, Twice in a Blue Moon is available only at i-Play's portal, along with a free trial demo. If history is any indication, however, the game will soon begin appearing at other popular download sites as well.



Significantly enhanced casual adventuring sequel targets Halloween release

Other game news has dealt with heaven and hell recently, but with today's release of the first teaser for 3 Cards to Dead Time, the focus returns to that unearthly place that's somewhere in between.

In the latest game from acclaimed Tex Murphy creators Aaron Conners and Chris Jones, players will explore the mystery behind the sudden 1929 disappearance of a man calling himself "The Magician" and his select group of guests on All Hallows Eve. Modern day events take place a few months after the conclusion of 3 Cards to Midnight, and Jess Silloway has been trying to come to grips with her unique abilities. Following a series of new troubling experiences, however, she finds herself at "one of the most haunted spots in the world", an isolated bed & breakfast in Maine, along with a group of paranormal investigators who have come to make contact with the other side.

Still a casual game along the lines of its predecessor, 3 Cards to Dead Time will include some notable changes from the original. Among the technical differences are a significant graphical overhaul, subtitles, and the ability to run the game full screen, but the changes extend to the gameplay as well. While still including a mix of clue-based room searches and traditional puzzles, item identification will now include "objects that connect, have common bonds, or are opposites." According to Conners, however, the game no longer relies on "English-specific wordplay", allowing the game to be localized into other languages.

Other enhancements will reportedly include a branching narrative and a third difficulty level, but we won't have long to wait to discover any others. Like its subject matter, 3 Cards to Dead Time is currently targeting a release for Halloween this year.



Second 'Enter the Story' installment now available for download

Heaven seems to be a popular destination for adventures this week, though in the case of Chris Tolworthy's newly released The Divine Comedy, players will have to go through hell to get there.

The Divine Comedy is the second installment in Tolworthy's Enter the Story project, intended to turn the classics of literature into interactive experiences. Following the adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the new game lets players live out the journey through Hell and Purgatory before reaching Paradise, as recounted in Dante Alighieri's epic poem.

While the game is a standalone adventure, there is a larger story arc involving a guardian angel named Peri that loosely connects it not only to its predecessor, but to its successors still to come. Along those lines, the Enter the Story series has a unique pricing structure, as buying any one of the first three games (the third still to be released) also gives you access to the other games for free.

For more information about both games, including purchase and download instructions, head on over to the Enter the Story website.

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