dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
Why do bad things happen to good people? What purpose does suffering serve? Is there some greater end, some trial through which G-d is putting us with the ultimate goal of tempering us, like steel hammered out on the forge? Or is it just a part of life that we have to learn to deal with, and maintain our own composure and avoid temptation while doing so? Does G-d understand the compromises that we have to make to exist in the imperfect world, or does He gaze sternly upon us and demand better?

And if you think there's a lot of questions in the preceeding paragraph, you should see some of the dialogue in this game.

The Shivah is the first commercial game by Dave Gilbert, of Wadjet Eye fame, though I wouldn't have guessed that just from playing it. That's partially because this is the "Kosher Edition," with voice acting and revamped graphics, but also because it's polished and very well designed without a lot of the pitfalls that adventure games usually fall into. I felt more like an investigator during the Shivah than I ever did during Gabriel Knight, and without any of the latter game's sleaziness. The Shivah is grounded, which is its greatest strength.

The Shivah detective rabbi
Adventure games.

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dorchadas: (Default)
King's Quest as a series was introduced to me by the same friend who showed me Hero's QuestQuest for Glory. We played King's Quest I, in all its EGA and text-parser magnificence, and while I fondly remember its fairy-tale aesthetic and falling into the king's moat and being eaten by crocodiles, we never got particularly far. We never reached an unwinnable situation because we would always die before solving anything. But that made an impression, and I grew up playing Sierra games.

My favorite Sierra games are still the the Quests for Glory, but King's Quest VI is my favorite King's Quest out of the ones I've played until now (I, V-VIII). King's Quest V is too arbitrary and full of situations that require advance knowledge of to beat, like throwing the boot at the cat so that the rat will rescue Graham in his cell later or beating a yeti with a pie, that I didn't want to replay it and I didn't want to subject [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to it, so we watched a longplay of it. I didn't own King's Quest VII at the time we started playing and anyway it has a different style and interface than the older games, so wasn't going to begin with that one. We do not speak of King's Quest VIII. But King's Quest VI is the best iteration of the early King's Quest games, with understandable puzzles, a whimsical setting, and a minimum of no-win situations. I thought it would be fun for us to play together, and I was right.

King's Quest 6 Ignorance Kills
The credo of adventure games.

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dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I suppose I should technically put "Hero Quest I" in the title, but I'll get to that.

I grew up on Sierra adventures, your Kings' Quest and Spaces' Quest. But those actually came later. The first Sierra adventure game I ever played was this one, at a friend's house when we were playing around on his parents' computer. I really took to its weird combination of genre styles and, ignoring the message at the beginning of the game about piracy, I borrowed the disks from him and copied the game to my computer, where I proceeded to play it obsessively. This was around when Quest for Glory III: Wages of War came out, so I bought that and imported my character--which blew my mind, by the way--and continued his adventures, and that began a love affair that lasted to this day.

I'm not the only one. I played Heroine's Quest last year, a game that was clearly and obviously inspired by the Quest for Glory games. But I haven't played the original in over a decade, and now that I'm on vacation, and since I still remember the solutions to all the puzzles, why not?

You called?

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dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
When I was young and had newly acquired an original Nintendo, I went shopping one day for a game with my parents. I fixated on a game--I no longer remember what it was--and told my father that I wanted it. He looked it at dubiously and suggested something different, a game I had never heard of called Maniac Mansion. I looked at the cover, with the house and the five misfits on the cover and the weird face in the background, and I turned it out. It didn't look exciting. It didn't have Mario or explosions or spaceships on it. Would I really like this? Despite his attempt to convince me, I rebuffed his suggestion and insisted on my initial choice.

Well, it turns out that maybe I should have gone with my father's choice. I spent years after playing adventure games on the PC and I don't even remember what game it was I wanted so badly. I've always remembered the game that my father suggested, though, and now that it's October and I'm looking for spooky games to play, I thought it was finally time that I sit down and do so.

Arson, murder, and jaywalking.

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dorchadas: (Grue)
Ah, shareware. Source of so much of my gaming in the 90s. It's how I played Castle of the Winds, Jill of the Jungle, Solar Winds, Aethra Chronicles, Doom, and a ton of other titles, a lot of which were forgettable. This one, for some reason, stuck with me. Maybe because unlike the other ones I mentioned, I never managed to beat it the first time around. I clearly remember winning Castle of the Winds 1 and spending hours grinding on the last level available before I convinced my father to send away for volume 2, which meant I was grossly overleveled for it when I finally played it and easily blew through the game, but with Dare to Dream 1 I couldn't beat it except on easy mode. As such, it remained in my memory, in the space I'm wasting by dedicating it to games I haven't beaten yet, and and so I sat down with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to play through it once I found that the whole trilogy was available online.

Abandonware is in a tricky place legally, but I don't care that much when it comes to Dare to Dream. Unlike a lot of the titles available on GOG, where it just takes some tinkering with DOSBox to get them working fine even on up-to-date systems, Dare to Dream is a Windows game. A Windows 3.1 game, and good luck getting that to run. On Windows 7 it's possible with a virtual machine, but now that I have Windows 10 I'd have to install Windows 3.1 through DOSBox, emulating an OS while I'm emulating an OS, and even then I'd have to get the files from somewhere because it's not for sale anywhere anymore. So browser gaming it is.

Just like real life.

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dorchadas: (Default)
Wadjet Eye is one of those names I've heard multiple times in connection with the revival of point-and-click adventure games as a mainstream concern. Not that they ever went anywhere, really--Hardcoregaming101's Guide to Classic Adventure Games points out that the problem was never that adventure games were losing popularity. They just weren't growing much, and back in the 90s when everyone was chasing graphics because all those extra polygons were objectively superior leading to bigger and bigger budgets, that just wasn't enough. Like interactive fiction, though, adventure gaming never really died. But studies like Wadjet Eye and Telltale Games are responsible for for a lot of that. Loom's Brian Moriarty even mentioned in a GDC talk he did on Loom that he'd be willing to turn over the rights to Wadjet Eye to the sequel that LucasArts never did, which for my view is pretty high praise. Sadly, the rights are lost in intra-company IP agreement hell, but it speaks to Wadjet Eye's quality that he'd consider it.

Gemini Rue isn't actually made by Wadjet Eye, just published by them, but their logo does flash up at the start of the game and it's all the things I associate with Wadjet Eye games. A pixel art point-and-click adventure in the style of the games I played of old, but with modern sensibilities. Not as many bullshit deaths as Sierra games, not as many obscure puzzles as LucasArts games. A happy medium, bringing the old genre into the modern age. Old adventure games aren't as bad as many people make them out to be--not everything was the cat hair mustache puzzle--but Gemini Rue does a lot to smooth over the old problematic aspects. You can't get stuck, it's pretty hard to die, and there are no puzzles where the creator assumes you'll either think in exactly the same sort of twisted logic as they do or else click literally everything on everything else in order to figure them out.

Well, maybe a little of the latter. It is a point-and-click adventure game.

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dorchadas: (Default)
The Gabriel Knight games are one of the few game series where my sister can claim more knowledge than I can. She bought Gabriel Knight III when it came out, and while I never played it because of the III in its name--which seems odd in hindsight, because I had no problem starting King's Quest with King's Quest V, other than fifteen minutes played at a friend's house--but my sister played and beat the whole game. Without walkthroughs, if I remember right, though I know that she had [ profile] uriany's assistance with some of the puzzles. I don't know how she beat the cat hair mustache puzzle, but she did.

And now, I follow in the trail she blazed a decade and a half ago, though starting with the first game instead of the third game. As you do, when all the games are available for cheaper than they've ever been and will run on basically any platform you have. Thank you,

Note: this review will contain spoilers from here on out. You have been warned.

Based on how people react to him, this is not a spoiler.

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dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
I'm not sure how generally useful or applicable this review will be, even beyond the normal subjectivity that is inherent in any kind of review, because Heroine's Quest is a direct homage to the old Hero's Quest / Quest for Glory series of games and those were foundational for me as a young child. I'm not sure why I took to them as well as I did, but their particular combination of point-and-click adventure and RPG gameplay drilled itself directly into my brain and lodged itself there for eternity, to the point where I downloaded a Pathfinder adaptation despite never having run Pathfinder, never having played Pathfinder, and, indeed, never having even read Pathfinder.

The games came out before RPG elements were cynically added to every game under the sun as a way to encourage grinding of arbitrary numbers and artificially extend play time--though after books like the excellent Lone Wolf and Fighting Fantasy series, which are basically novel versions of the adventure game/RPG hybrid--and one of the benefits of those elements is that because the games were designed to be completed with three classes, there are always multiple solutions to puzzles, which does a lot to reduce the frustration from adventure game logic. There are some puzzles that need specific items to solve, but generally even if you're playing a thief you can try smashing your way through if you can't find out the right lock to pick.

Always wizards forever.

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dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I honestly think that some of the reason I love roguelikes so much, why I mod games like Oblivion and Skyrim and Fallout 3 and XCom to be much harder, and why I'm so excited to play Dark Souls is because I grew up on Sierra adventure games. You have died isn't exactly something I'm unfamiliar with. Neither is permadeath, really--realizing that you forgot to do something or pick up an item six hours ago and have been playing in an unwinnable state since then and all your saves are worthless is pretty much adventure game permadeath.

There was one LucasArts adventure game I played that bucked these trends, though. Loom.

There's a kind of poignant mood over the beginning that this line sums up.

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