All posts by Harmoniouscrow

The Grey and the Cold – Ashwalkers

I know this is out of alphabetical order, but I only completed Ashwalkers last night, so I didn’t want to write anything about it until I had managed to run through it to the end at least once.

This game I actually CHOSE to buy and download – it was on special on GoG at the time, and I loved the art style and choice-driven nature of the game. It is NOT my usual type of game either, but I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic or dystopian stories and games, and the trailer and blurb about this game intrigued me.

Ashwalkers is a narrative-driven survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world. The world has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters, and the few remaining humans are forced to live in small, isolated communities. You play as a group of four survivors who are sent out from one of these communities in search of a new home.

The game starts with you choosing your characters for the mission, each with their own unique skills and abilities. Your Captain is quite important, as they hold the team together. You will then need to choose your supplies and prepare for your journey. The amount of supplies you are issued and can carry is limited. The world of Ashwalkers is incredibly harsh and unforgiving, and you will need to carefully manage your squad’s needs and your resources to survive.

Each character has their own unique skills and abilities, so choose the characters that best fit your playstyle. Gather as many supplies as possible before you set out on your journey. You will need food, water, and other supplies to survive. The world of Ashwalkers is full of dangerous creatures and dangerous people, so be prepared to fight for your survival, but also explore other responses to scenarios. Violence is not always the answer. There are always multiple choices. Explore the world. There are many hidden secrets and resources to be found. Take your time. Build camps OFTEN. I failed to do this, thinking it was not necessary, and I think that was a big reason for my final squad count.

Be patient. Ashwalkers is not your run-of-the-mill “choose your own adventure” game. Don’t give up!. Each playthrough provides so many learning experiences until you “succeed” and even that success may be different for each player.

The game is played from a top-down perspective, sort of… sometimes the camera shifts, and in certain areas it will be at an oblique angle. You will need to use the mouse to control your characters and the keyboard to interact with the environment. It’s not immediately intuitive, but since there are so few options for interaction, it’s really not difficult to pick it up. You will need to explore the world, gather resources, and build shelters to survive, and keep chugging along in the direction of your initial mission goal. You will also need to fight off dangerous creatures and bandits, or find ways to be diplomatic – and all your choices depend on the people in your squad.

This is a challenging game, but it is also rewarding and quickly gives you a “just one more chapter” kind of feeling, where you finish something (successfully or not) and want to keep going. The game is well-made and the graphics are gorgeous. The art shows a desolate world with strange inhabitants and places, and leftovers from lost cities and people. My only issue was that you cannot control the camera – and this means missing resources, getting “lost” behind walls/cliffs/etc, and missing paths. I suppose this all adds to your choices/decisions/path, and that adds to the possibilities.

The journey is long and dangerous, and your choices may even make it longer and even more dangerous! The landscape is barren, cold, empty, and definitely not on your side, and the squad must contend with extreme weather conditions, dangerous creatures, and difficult moral choices. Along the way, they will learn more about themselves and each other, and they will have to decide what it means to be human in a world that has been stripped of its humanity. Some of the decisions were relatively easy to make… others left me thinking seriously before clicking on my choice. This game will challenge you both mentally and emotionally. The choices you make, from where you shelter to what resources you decide on and who you feed and who rests and who is walking point for the quad, will impact everything that happens after each decision. There are multiple endings, and changing your squad selection truly makes a difference. Everything in this game is carefully thought out by the devs – there are no “just because” moments.

One of the biggest challenges in Ashwalkers is managing the characters’ resources. You need to keep track of the characters’ hunger, thirst, and warmth levels, and they must also make sure that they have enough food and water to survive. If the characters’ resources run low, they will start to suffer from negative effects, such as fatigue, illness, and even death.

Another challenge in Ashwalkers is navigating the dangerous world. The wasteland is filled with hazards, such as toxic gas, dangerous animals, and hostile humans.

Finally, it’s a game that is all about making difficult choices. You will be faced with a number of moral dilemmas throughout the game, and your choices will have a significant impact on the story and the characters’ fates. You must carefully consider the options and make the choices that you believe are best for the group. Or do what I did sometimes and just say “FOR SCIENCE!” and pick something randomly when you didn’t want to make a hard choice!

This game is definitely not for everyone – I was quite surprised that I enjoyed it. Players who are looking for a relaxing and easy game should look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for a challenging and thought-provoking experience will find a lot to love in Ashwalkers.

A Weirdo Whammy Gaming Adventure Game

This is definitely one of the weirder games in my Gaming Adventure List.

This game is a rather odd, deeply disturbing, and definitely dark game called Bad Dream: Coma. This is from the Bad Dream series (Coma, Fever, and Stories) developed by Desert Fox. I also have Bad Dream: Fever, but if I am honest, I am not sure I will play that one. This game was not my cup of tea by a long shot – definitely not what I was expecting, if I even know what I was expecting.

According to the blurb on both Steam and GoG (I got my games on GoG, by the way) – Bad Dream: Coma is a point-and-click adventure game with a unique minimalistic art style. The game takes place in a surreal and disturbing dreamland where everything depends on your actions. You can’t die, but you can suffer greatly.

And suffer you do. The game starts out only slightly weird… you get told to sleep well, and the lights go off…

It only gets weirder and darker from there.

Just a word of warning – there are several ways to play through the game, and every time it’s slightly different, depending on your actions (right from the start!) and there are multiple endings.

Another set of warnings – First, the game’s art style is very minimalistic and almost “dirty” (in terms of cleanliness not sordidness) which can make the disturbing imagery even more jarring. Second, the game’s story is very dark and twisted, and it deals with some very heavy themes, such as death, loss, and mental illness. Third, the game’s gameplay can be incredibly frustrating at times, which can add to the overall sense of unease, as things will break or disappear or be used for something other than what they should be used for. I also didn’t like the underlying … violence? Not even sure that’s the word I want here, but it’s a strange undercurrent, and I really found it unsettling.

The game is divided into four chapters, each of which is a different dream. In each chapter, you come across strange and disturbing characters and situations. This is not a hand-holding game. You will definitely need to have your wits about you, and think outside the box, or, in same cases, incredibly literally. Every “scene” has multiple puzzles, and some can only be solved by solving another from a different scene, using items you got by solving another puzzle in another scene. My TBI-brain struggled sometimes with holding on to multiple “thoughts” and steps at once (do this to get this, but do this first to get this to get that, to go back and finish that first one) but I’m sure it would be simple for anyone who can multitask.

Each chapter is represented by a different color: red, green, blue, and black. The color of each chapter represents the different emotions that you will experience during that dream. The game is full of symbolism and hidden meanings. The game is designed to make you think about your own dreams and your own subconscious. Clearly, this is not something I was very comfortable with, and the intended “uneasy” feeling definitely hovered over me the whole way through, and with each try.

What I worked out by playing is that you are a patient in a coma, and you are experiencing a series of disturbing dreams. The dreams are all interconnected, and they all represent different aspects of your subconscious. I’m not sure if these are a reflection of what is going on in the waking world, or just something that’s crept into your mind due to being in the coma.

I played through the game 5 or 6 times, reaching various stages in each play through. On my first play through… I lost my fingers on my right hand… so I cut someone else’s off and glued them to my own hand. That was probably the moment when I thought, “eh, I don’t know if I want to play this game anymore…”

The game is full of surprises and twists, and each scene is designed to make you feel uncomfortable and uneasy, and it definitely worked. If you are looking for a challenging and thought-provoking game, with a very dark, disturbing theme and style, then I would definitely recommend giving Bad Dream: Coma a try.

Bad Dream: Coma is a unique and unforgettable experience – and not necessarily in a good way. It is a game that will stay with you long after you finish playing it. Like the bad taste in your mouth from a bad apple, or an overripe orange. *wrinkles nose*

Go Ask Alice, When She’s 10 Feet Tall

So, here we were on our Gaming Adventure, and along came Alice: Madness Returns. I have not played the first Alice game, but this was next on my list, and that was the deal!

Just going to say, first off, that this game was VERY much outside my wheelhouse and/or comfort zone. I’ve not played anything like this that I can remember – puzzles and jumping and dodging and timing and dying… DYING so many times! I do not play “souls” games or “roguelike” games – I do not have the patience or tenacity for them! That being said, this game is so beautiful, darkly humorous, twisted, and a little bit silly (looking at YOU, Rabbit, and those SILLY teapots!) that the endless dying and “let’s try that again” made it fun/interesting enough for me to keep going to the end.

The story is also dark, twisted, but fascinating, and I kept going to learn more about poor Alice’s past. The memories were bittersweet, sad, and showed a broken and very interesting arc for young Alice. I am not sure how many of them were recalls to the previous game, but it didn’t matter, as the story was so well told that I could keep up easily with the story in this game.

The covering of mental health issues, deeply disturbing moments, and overall strangeness made the game quite complex, despite the apparently first-look appearance of “just another puzzle game” which you may think when you watch a few minutes of game play.

It’s not a “new game” by any means, and the graphics are not AAA game level, but they are gorgeous enough to make the game just beautiful to look at while you dodge hot tea, black blobs, and strange shadows with doll heads. I was thoroughly entranced and entertained.

I won’t show too many more shots from the game, as they definitely give spoilers, and that’s something I try not to do in these Gaming Adventure reviews.

I will say, though, that if you go into this game with no knowledge of the previous game, and an open mind, you will thoroughly enjoy it.

I certainly did!

And the whole time I played, I had Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” going around in my head, often humming it aloud.

Go ask Alice… when she’s 10 feet tall!

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare – Deja vu all over again

I’ve never played an “Alan Wake” game before, and I’d never heard of the character or the world prior to getting this game (As part of a Humble Bundle) about 3 years ago. I installed it back then, played about an hour of it, couldn’t get the hang of it at ALL, so I uninstalled it and promised to return at some point, but never did… UNTIL Spoopytober 2022. It was next in my Gaming Adventure anyway, and I thought it was an appropriate game for the Spooky season.

I am proud to say that I finally completed it! As usual, I am not going to go into TOO much depth, so as to avoid spoilers, but I am going to attempt to give a nice vague and all-encompassing short discussion about it, but more importantly about _my_ experience of the game.

To start, the introduction is quite “gentle” and leads you into the mechanics of the gameplay, the interface, and the limitations of Mr. Alan Wake. There are a few callbacks, apparently, to the other games, and I missed these, of course, unless they were shoved right in my face and mentioned by the “narrator” of the game. However, after this “gentle” introduction, it really starts to get wild, interesting, puzzling, and PRETTY DARN SCARY! The number of times I jumped IRL thanks to being snuck up on by the rather creepy “enemies” in the game… I lost count!

The world is quite empty, but you do meet a couple of people (mostly women… hmm) who help you in their own way, and the story progresses. The first time you loop (and I won’t go into that, because I don’t want it spoiled) I was actually a little disappointed! I thought, “All that work, and now I’m here!” but it made sense. As the story progresses, the weird objects you need to find and the strange conversations you have to have with the same people, but with subtle differences, seem to slide into place.

The puzzles are sometimes super simple, sometimes quite complex, and I found the “help” was not always particularly helpful, or the instructions were a little vague, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

Then you meet your nemesis, and that guy made me incredibly uncomfortable – and that’s not something that happens very often – so that’s a testament to the writing, voice acting, and animations/cut scenes. This guy CREEPED me out no end. Every time you had to interact with him in some way I will admit I kinda rushed it and clicked through as fast as I could! And he just gets worse as you progress – so that’s both interesting and disconcerting.

Maybe because “he” is also “you” but the darkest, cruelest, most depraved parts of you? I’ve never been comfortable playing the “bad guy” in games. I always end up playing the good guy, the reluctant hero, the thief with the heart of gold, the thug who changes his ways. Every character I play, unless absolutely set in the story and unchangeable, will evolve into an upstanding citizen, whether I like it or not!

Moving on!

While this game is a little older, the graphics (in-game and cut scenes) are pretty darn good! The atmosphere is very noir detective, but with elements of combat, puzzle, decision making conversations and interactions, and lots and lots of running…

The narration creates a very 1940’s detective novel feeling, and if that’s your jam, you’re in for a good time. There’s a little wry, dark humour involved, but it never takes you out of the story. As I mentioned above, the writing is excellent. I only rolled my eyes once in the game when you interact with a certain character, and the dialogue options were a bit “Oh, seriously?” for me. But other than that, the story, the interactions, the narration, it all adds to a full experience and immersion.

Once I got the hang of the interface, the action, the story, and the ultimate goal of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad I played it, finished it, and I can tick it off on my Gaming Adventure list.

*sips whiskey* *adjusts trench coat* *puts feet up on the desk in the dark office*

So, Mr. Wake, we meet again. And again. And yet again.

Snippet 18

She saw it that day. She saw what was on the other side.

The split second she left this world lasted an eternity on the other side of the veil.

She stood on sandy shores, waves lapping at her feet. The water was warm and soft. The mournful cry of gulls, high in the air, and the piping of Plovers reached her ears. The air was warm; not uncomfortably warm, but warmer than any beach she’d been on in her lifetime.

The sand was golden brown, with streaks of red and pale yellow, gentle and smooth.

She looked at her feet, bare and tanned. As she stared, she noted the breeze blowing her light cotton clothing around her legs; pale blue and soft as a touch.

She turned from the water to face the lands behind her. Dunes ranging in size from hillock to mountain, as far out as the eye could see, browns and reds and pale yellows in stripes and streaks, with golden syrup coloured ridges and deep red valleys.

As the breeze subsided, she could feel the heat waft forward towards her from the dunes, then be driven back again by the cool breeze from the water.

“Is this it?” she wondered out loud. She wondered what happened next. She was not hungry, nor thirsty, and she felt no discomfort from the hot sands. What did she do now? Was she meant to move on somewhere else? Was she stuck? Would there be someone to meet her? Was she alone here?

This was not what she was expecting. Well, really, she didn’t know what she had been expecting. The only time she’d pondered it deeply was in drunken conversation with her best friend Mandy, 3 bottles of wine into a good evening chill session at her place.

 

Her silent reverie was interrupted by the harsh cry of a gull, closer than before, and she turned back to the water. She saw a small skiff coming toward her; compact sails full of wind, moving the skiff through the water at a brisk pace.

From up on high – Airborne Kingdom

From the moment I saw this game for sale I knew I wanted to play it – from the gorgeous, dreamy, vaguely Arabic or Moroccan-looking imagery and style, to the music and, of course, the overall premise of the game, it was definitely my cup of tea.

I played on “normal” mode, which is, I think, the easiest you can go, as is my usual preference for a first run through. The challenge is simple, initially, and it teaches you everything you need to know and tells a beautiful mythic story that makes you want to explore and discover more about the lands you are sailing above. The challenge increases, though, and you are soon juggling the many needs of your people, and your need to explore and discover the secrets of the land below you.

You discover cities where there are main quests and side quests, and little settlements have people who are intrigued with the floating fortress, and they want to join you. There are also many over-arching main stories, and the quest to bring all the lands together in knowledge and peace drives everything you do.

The main story centers around rediscovering lost knowledge, sharing with the now fractured nations of this once proud and combined part of the world. Each city and region has an abundance and scarcity of various things (food in one, water in another, wood in another, etc) and they also have requests before they will join the Pact.

You start off with only one, and these do not need to be completed in any specific order, as they do not rely on other kingdoms to be completed. Each kingdom who joins also offers technological advancements found in their vaults, libraries, and catacombs, and you can then research these and add them to your airborne abode.

I was very proud of my magnificent city by the end of the game, and I worked hard to maintain the balance of lift, propulsion, and of course, meeting all the needs of my people. Sometimes, this was definitely a challenge, as resources are scarce in many places and the main resource keeping you afloat (literally) is coal, and sometimes I cut it pretty close to dropping from the sky! Well, actually, it’s more of a slow glide downward, and there’s not much you can do about it. This happened once to me, and I restarted from an older save, and that’s my tip to you – SAVE OFTEN, preferably BEFORE you do anything major. Another tip – click on EVERYTHING on the ground, as I discovered many new resources that I didn’t know I needed, as well as some added extras that helped with later missions and negotiations.

I am not going to ruin the end of this gorgeous game, but I hope you get the idea of it from this, and from the images I posted here. I tried not to spoil anything for others. The nice thing about this game is that you can play it the way you want to – focusing on various elements as you see fit. I put my focus on my harvesters (The gliders onboard) and on creating food and water, but there are many other ways to go, and many technologies that you trade for relics (thus the – click on everything – hint) that you can decide priority for in your city.

Overall, it’s a beautiful, peaceful, Zen-like city builder and resource management game. Sometimes, I would just float somewhere above a forest or some sandy desert canyons, watching the birds fly around my city, and listen to the hum of the propellers. It was magical. A game well-worth it, in my opinion.

May your city stay ever aloft, and your people jubilant.

AER Memories of Old

Checked my list, and this game was next. I’ve had the game in my library for some time, just never got around to playing it (as is the case with most of the games on my list, thus the Gaming Adventure!) as I knew it would require a focus that I felt I didn’t have at the time.

Of course, it being next on the list meant that I had to step up and just ignore my perfectionist tendencies and play the game.

From the first moment, this game grabbed my attention. You really have to look and pay attention – for clues, for messages, for where to go next.

In my adventures, I met some beautiful creatures (taking a little bit of a few cultures’ myths and legends, but adding a hefty dose of their own story to the mix) and the memories (thus the name) of people long gone.

And you fly, my friend… you FLY! It is exhilarating! The flight mechanic is smooth, easy, and I just wanted to spend all my time aloft. It was so relaxing and soothing that I honestly spent more time flying than I probably should have. The sound of it, and the “feel” of it, and the way your wings flex and twist… it’s GORGEOUS! Probably one of the best flying animations/mechanics that I have ever seen for “nature-based” creatures. I was entranced.

I was thoroughly enjoying the story, really getting to grips with the puzzles and the mythology, and what I could do and couldn’t do… and I was 90% done… but then, a total OH NO moment. I discovered a bug on the way to one of the final puzzles – I fell through the floor. The first time it happened, I managed to jump around and get myself out of the pickle and back onto solid ground. The second time, I wasn’t so lucky. I fell… and fell… and fell some more. I could not transform, as I was still, technically, inside the temple, and you cannot transform inside temples or ruins. So, I just continued to fall.

I let myself fall, just in case this was part of the “story” as a moment earlier I had read a “clue” about how the gods and spirits fell into the stars… and that seemed to be what was happening to me… but I just kept falling.

I exited the game and returned and tried again from the previous save (a few minutes before, at another puzzle, but, luckily, I knew where I was and what I needed to do) and, heartbreakingly, the same thing happened as I got to the top of the stairs at that puzzle… I fell through the floor… and, again, just kept falling.

I won’t uninstall the game yet, but if it happens again when I next try to get passed this point, I will, unfortunately, have to give up on this BEAUTIFUL game and move on to the next in my list.

A Plague Tale – Innocence

My next game in the Gaming Adventure (and now so very close to 700 games altogether.. SHUSH! Don’t judge me! Blame Steam Summer Sale and GOG and their ridiculous discounts!) is the tragic and beautiful, A Plague Tale – Innocence. Some may say it should have been played in the “P” part of the adventure, but I’m going by GOG’s list, as it shows all my games from various launchers/sites in one place, and it said that it was next. So here we are, and here we go…

First impression is that the game is GORGEOUS – the colours and textures are detailed and beautiful, and you immediately feel like this is going to be a game where the story is made even better by the amazing scenery and character design. The story, even if this had NOT been as beautiful as this game is, would still have kept me playing.

You start out in a beautiful moment, father and daughter (and beloved dog!) having a lovely evening stroll in a French forest in the 1300’s – Idyllic, peaceful, filled with Autumn colours and bird song. Here, you meet Amicia De Rune, and her noble father, and her gorgeous hunting dog, Leon. Father and daughter discuss her mother, and her little brother, Hugo, who is, apparently, chronically ill with a mysterious disease. Amicia doesn’t see her mother very often as she is dedicated totally to looking after Hugo, who Amicia also doesn’t see very often or know very well. Amicia is daddy’s girl, and is wanting to prove herself to her father, and impress him. She does this in various ways, and you can tell her father dotes on her and clearly knows her better than he knows his son. It’s a lovely scene, and you can thoroughly enjoy it… then some things happen (won’t spoil it) and Leon runs off after something. He is a hunting dog, after all, and a well trained one.

So we walk through the woods, discussing many things including the current war and the Inquisition, your ill brother and absent mother, and your father tests your skills with your (soon to be indispensable) trusty sling. It’s a lovely, gentle intro into the skills you will be using, and advancing, throughout the game. Amicia is innocent and, while a little sad and a touch jealous that she never gets to see her mother because she is always taking care of Hugo, kind and sweet.

That’s when things turn a little dark… not going to spoil the story, but some things happen and it’s downhill and pretty much running and hiding from there on out!

You start out very strained in your relationship with your little brother, Hugo, but through the misery, heartbreak, and sheer terror that you go through together, and the understanding that develops, you end up being incredibly close and loyal to one another. It’s quite touching at times. Hugo also starts out very innocent and gentle, but you are both changed tremendously by the things you see, have to do, and the people you discover along the journey. There are some incredible characters with their own deep stories, and these characters are not 2-dimensional in the least.

Yes, the story is linear – you don’t get to choose where you go or when you go there, but even that does not detract from the game or the story. Some places you revisit, and they are forever changed. Some of the people you lose along the way for various reasons, and each time it tears a little more at the heart. By the end of the story, after you accomplish your goals and help some of your companions accomplish theirs, you are emotionally exhausted, but tentatively triumphant. It’s bittersweet, and the ending is not quite what you expect.

As mentioned, the story is very dark, and quite gruesome in some places, and there are rats…. lots and lots of rats. So if you have a phobia, I would not recommend the game. As for the story, and the period it’s set in, it’s a dark, tragic time filled with violence and atrocity. Be warned. You will be changed as much as these children are.

Even the NPCs and guards and soldiers and everyone else you come across are very interesting and their dialogue makes sense in their position/location. I had many moments where my heart was pounding in my chest – and sometimes these were the _sneaky_ moments!

The visuals are incredible, and the music is absolutely on par with it. It’s a soundtrack you can get lost in. Each location has its own theme and song, and the action/sneaking music is also superb.

It’s a game to get lost in for a good few hours. This is my second attempt at the game – I don’t remember why I stopped playing the first time – but I remember exactly where I stopped, and when I managed to get passed that point and move along in the story, I was pretty proud of myself. When I reached the end of the game, I was even prouder.

I can heartily recommend this game. I have hundreds of screen shots and I will remember it very fondly.

Au revoir Amicia. Bonne chance Hugo. J’attends vos prochaines aventures avec impatience!

PS – Let the credits roll to the end for a little bonus…

PPS – all images are taken in-game.

2064 Read Only Memories aka I Am Old

I believe I am discovering the reasons behind these “indie” games not being so popular. Not all, mind you, but some of them are just too “modern” and I guess “woke” for my old brain. Again, I really tried with this one, even gritted my teeth when I realised the entire game would be in these retro “16-bit” graphics with accompanying midi music and sound effects. I’ve played other games like this (Cloudpunk, for one) that I really enjoyed despite these things, but this game just pushed it to a point where you could barely see the characters, and even their “close up” visuals were still not great to me. They definitely did not look like the “trailer” images you see. Those are all full graphics and look amazing… that’s the reason I got the game. Clearly I needed to look further to see actual gameplay. My bad. I’m just not a “retro game” kinda girl. I lived through low-grade graphics once, I don’t need to do that again, right?

But, pushing through this, I started getting into the story – the game is actually very intuitive and offers lots of dialog options for different “attitudes” and a nice simple interface. You can view, touch/interact with, talk to, or use an item from your backpack on almost everything you see in a space. I liked that a lot! You could even talk to your plant! It didn’t answer, of course, but you got responses from the game like “this action will have consequences later… probably” and I love that kind of snarky sarcastic humour! I really enjoyed that side of the game. Your interactions with Turing can be very amusing, as well. Turing is like a child, but with an adult’s brain and understanding… they did a good job conveying that aspect of the little ROM. He is not two-dimensional in character, even if he is 16-bit visually! 😀 *laughs nerdily*

I was really enjoying the story, especially the detective aspect of it, the locations and people popping up to talk to and interact with… until we got to the Starlight Club.

The barman was lovely, and we had a great conversation. The main lead, TOMCAT, was also fascinating and warm and kind and I enjoyed our conversations… but before we got to “her” we had to deal with Jess.

Jess is a “hybrid” and Jess is so fekkin rude and bigoted, and treats you like shyte because you don’t “Get” that she’s a hybrid and she apparently HATES “normal” people… or “genotypical” as she calls them because we’re not as AWESOME as hybrids. We don’t need her at first… but later on, when our plans fall through (through no fault of our own) we then have to go GROVELLING to Jess to get some help. I tried, people. I really tried. But Jess is insufferable and I tried all dialog options – even went back and loaded the save for when I first encountered her and tried all THOSE dialog options to see if there was ONE where we didn’t OFFEND her by breathing.. but nope. She hates us and she won’t help. TOMCAT suggests we “be nice” to get her to help us… and I tried some dialog options, but Jess is so vain, and so elitist and bigoted, she refuses to help. We apparently had to resort to all sorts of other options to “prove ourselves” to Jess just to get her to grudgingly give us a pathetic lead… and I just couldn’t. It’s a game, and a game shouldn’t make you feel like you had to dirty yourself to get somewhere in it. I wasn’t uncomfortable that she was a “hybrid” or that everyone around me was whatever other “life types” and all the other things they are – I do not care what people are, as I believe everyone can do their own thing, as long as their ideals don’t get shoved down my throat, because I don’t do that to other people – I was irritated that they made my character out to be less important or cool than anyone else because I wasn’t augmented or a hybrid. That’s not cool. Maybe that’s just me being “old” and grumpy, but I don’t think so.

I carried on playing for a bit, trying out the various options to continue, but I’d lost my interest in the game at that point, and I have closed it, and I will most likely uninstall it and move on to the next game in my list.

Good luck, Turing. I hope you dream of Electric Sheep.

“1954 Alcatraz” aka I Guess He’s Not Getting Off That Island

I tried to finish this game, people. I really tried. The blurb about it looked intriguing, the casual 50’s banter seemed amusing… and then I played the game.

Firstly, it crashed after I reset the graphics and settings (max all the way!) but I soldiered on and gave it the benefit of the doubt, fiddling with settings until it seemed happy. I started a new game, and threw myself into the story. You start out as the man in the can, the incarcerated, Joe, in Alcatraz after what, according to the intro cut scene, was a botched escape attempt. Apparently, he helped with a big heist with some bad characters and everyone thinks he hid the money, so everyone is after him for that.

In prison, you struggle to interact with your surroundings with a strangely clumsy 2-button interface using your mouse. There is a brief (And I mean BRIEF) tutorial and then you are left to your own devices. Right click everything to “view” it – and you get a little blurb about what you are looking at – and then left click to “interact” with the object and/or person. I clicked everything, both buttons, and heard the same one-liners about each item without any real help. Eventually, after lots of clicks and hearing the same thing over and over, I managed to work out how to “make stuff” and how to use that stuff on other objects. Perhaps I was not as focused as I could have been, and perhaps it was explained in the “tutorial” but it really was not very intuitive. Finally, I managed to find some objects I needed to continue (because the story will not continue without certain checkpoints being met… more on that later) and left my cell.

While we stood in a line outside our cells, I chatted with various other prisoners. The voice acting was great, with some real feeling and story thrown in, but the constant repetition of things until you chose the “right” sequence of events got a little annoying. Once I got that right, we moved on to the chow hall, where we had some more strange and stilted conversations where there was no option to end the conversation until you’d asked all the questions, and you’d chosen each dialog option.. even the ones that made people angry. Maybe it was bugged? I don’t know… but more on THAT later as well.

After these weird exchanges and promises of “favours” a select few of us went to the visiting room and we meet Joe’s wife, Christine. She’s a fast talking, snarky, witty, “hep cat” poetry slinger with flippy hair and a beret. I can’t say I “clicked” with Christine. Her dialog options with Joe seemed very weak and pointless filled with “miss you baby” and stuff like that. Not my cup of tea, but I persevered and we learned things and, again, after exhausting ALL OPTIONS in the chat menu, even ones that were contradictory to what I had just told her/asked her… we then begin playing as Christine.

On the dock, we meet the sleezy Mickey and his enormous thug. He wants his money and gives Christine a deadline to get it – and by deadline, I mean deadline… he plans to kill her if he can’t get the money from Joe, through Christine. Lots of corny/cheesy/cliché “mobster” lines are thrown around, and Christine’s responses are a mix of sassy comebacks and whiny weakness of a damsel in distress. It confused me. Again… all options had to be exhausted until you could move on.

I investigated every clue/item/viewpoint and heard all the blurbs, and then we went home to our apartment. Again, lots of clicking, looking, trying to interact and not really getting anywhere. I clicked on the things that were meant to give me answers and items (clues that Joe gave me in the visiting room, and again on a letter I found from him in the apartment) but nothing presented itself. I then went onto the fire escape (to be met by a neighbour who is desperate to sleep with you.. and YOU CAN SLEEP WITH HIM and apparently (according to the internet) you can learn stuff about the heist that he did with Joe… but only if you sleep with him… I said no thanks and sent him home to his wife and the “secret Marriage Level” went up 10 points or something, but I was left in the dark about important details for the rest of the game… wait… WHAT?) and the roof and again… nothing presented itself despite clicking on everything with both buttons. I went back inside and then used the map to visit the 3 people I am supposed to chat to.

I then bumped into Detective Grassi and was taken to the police station for interrogation, and again, all dialog had to be completed. I was then let go, but only after promising to meet up with Detective Grassi at his favourite restaurant. Er… okay. That’s not odd at all.

So I visited our landlady who lives above her Chinese restaurant. This is where I learned, again, that if you do anything in the WRONG ORDER, it totally messes up your chances to pick up any further clues or advance any further in the story. I went to the kitchen FIRST and picked up a bowl of soup. I tried to read the drawer labels at the back of the kitchen, but apparently “I can’t read Chinese, only the cooks know what these say!” I then went UPSTAIRS to the landlady, who was lying in her bed, under the weather. I clicked all around her room, checking out every single clue and object… got nothing very helpful. I then spoke to Vivian (the landlady) and she begged me to go get her a bowl of soup… oh GREAT, I thought, I already have one here in my purse! I handed it over.. and she said thank you, but she wanted Winter Melon… where the heck am I supposed to find that? I went back to the kitchen, clicked EVERYTHING again… nope. Still can’t read Chinese. Went back up to Vivian… she didn’t want to talk to me anymore.

Bugged, I thought? So you know what I did? I restarted the fekkin game. Did it all again.. all the clicking and dialog and searching and waffle…. this time I went to Vivian first… she asked for soup, I went downstairs to get it… GOSH… I STILL CAN’T READ CHINESE. I had no idea how to get this Winter Melon she kept asking for. I gave up on that one, hoping I’d find something later that would help.

I then went to the church to talk to the priest… I had to break in… to the church… *raises eyebrow* and then I went to confession with the priest. Lots of silly dialog options here, and I asked everything and got nothing. Again. Checked ALL the clues and items and objects… nope, nothing helpful that moved the story along.

I had no choice, I then had to go to dinner with Detective Grassi. Despite complaining every five seconds about how hungry I was… I refused to eat anything, not even the bread rolls on the table because the Detective would “just reach out and hold my hand” and I didn’t want that, apparently, despite going to dinner with him and being “so lonely” all the time. Christine complains about everything, but then refuses to do anything that may help her. It irritated and confused me. I went back to the apartment, as apparently, I could not move the story along anywhere. I was stuck. I did things in the wrong order, and now everything was broken and would not advance me at all.

I tried to switch over to Joe, but I couldn’t actually find where to do this. The “tutorial” mentioned it for a second, but there was no real clue for me to show how to switch over to him. Not even sure what that would have accomplished anyway, as I hadn’t advanced anything for Christine that may have helped Joe in the clink.

At this point, I gave up. I was frustrated and irritated and finding this game was NOT what I was expecting and it was nothing like the trailer had made it seem. I was disappointed.

Game uninstalled. Moving on.