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Adventure Games

After all the rushing around for the holidays, it was nice to spend a weekend just kicking back. This past weekend that meant searching the internet for adventure games or what some call point and click games. There’s nothing wrong with shooting aliens or zombies but the fun thing about adventure type games is you can solve them together. Finding a decent one on the internet can be difficult. It’s not that there aren’t many out there, it’s that you have to wade through so much garbage to find a gem.

I found it interesting my friend Matt coincidentally sent me this article on user interfaces this morning. When you think about it, games are pure user interfaces. I mean, you aren’t actually trying to get any work done. One thing about a lot of games out there is when you are playing you don’t see a menu on the screen. I have a paint program I wrote years ago I still use because I like the interface better than most. Photoshop was originally developed on a Macintosh. In my paint program, when you are painting, you don’t see menus on the screen, when you want a menu, you use the right mouse button. Since the Macintosh had only one mouse button I suppose that wasn’t an option. After Microsoft dominated the market, always having something on the screen unrelated to what you are doing became the norm anyway. I suppose the one place that seems to be coming back is the full screen mode of a lot of TV viewing applications.

That’s one thing about Adobe Flash games that is semi-annoying to me. If you click the right mouse button you get a Flash menu which is usually useless in terms of the game you are playing. Consequently they have eliminated half the functionality of the mouse in terms of the game play.

We did find several games worth playing.  Something Amiss is a classic style adventure complete with an inventory where you have to find and gather up objects you use to solve logic puzzles. We have only made it through the first two chapters but this is the kind of game I don’t really like to play unless I find a walkthrough. The reason is, I don’t really like the fact you have to go back nine screens or so because you didn’t pick up something you failed to see. One of the highly important decisions you have to make in these types of games is whether the user will see the main character on the screen or whether it is all first person point of view. In this case they chose to make the character visible in a comic book artistic style but often, when she is interacting with objects, you don’t see them or the movement is off. Also I thought the concept of holding down the mouse to get a tiny menu where you can talk to, ingest or manipulate an object was an interesting one. It just seemed like that would have been a good functionality for a right mouse button.

In Tipping Point the author decided to forgo seeing the main character thus freeing up his time to work on the detail of the scenery which can be quite beautiful at times. We did occasionally have to use the included walkthrough on this one as well. Some of the puzzles are pretty obscure. I can’t say I care much for mazes although they are often present in these types of games.  There was a cave maze in this one we couldn’t solve even once we had figured out what to do.  One of the things I like about this style is when you decide to move to the next screen you don’t have to wait for your on-screen character to walk somewhere. Also the author divided the game up so there are only a small number of screens in each part so you won’t have to backtrack far if you missed something.

Levers isn’t a big game. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as an adventure game but more of a physics simulator logic puzzle. It’s still kind of fun. I could never get past the giant head. I thought the birds were an interesting touch.

By far the most enjoyable games we played this weekend were Haluz 1 and 2. The games are very similar to Samorost 1 and Samorost 2. The reason is the pure simplicity of the concept. Yeah, the plots are thin but they have really stripped the adventure game concept down to its basics. There is no inventory of items which need to be gathered and you don’t ever have to navigate your character. I know these seem like the characteristics which define the genre of adventure gaming, but you know leaving those elements out actually makes the game more fun. All four of these games feature quirky characters with odd machinery. There is something appealing about the fact that everything you need to do to solve the puzzle is on the screen and you don’t need to go looking elsewhere for the solution. We did get stuck and had to use a walkthrough for Haluz 1 but I don’t know if the puzzles were easier or we just got ‘trained’ by the game author but we made it through Haluz 2 which is a much longer game without having to resort to looking up any solutions. Also I really liked the organic quality of the artwork in the game. When I first saw it I thought it might have been written by the same people who wrote Samorost.

All of the games I have mentioned here are worth checking out and the best part is they are all free.

One Response to “Adventure Games”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Have you tried the Nick Bounty games from Pinhead Games?

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