Category Archives: Adventure
Mining the internet for a decent survival/crafter game these days is much like the process of mining in the games themselves: an increasingly tedious grind of repetition that requires ridiculous amounts of resources to cobble together even the simplest of shelters before you die of dehydration, starvation and, possibly, boredom.
Thank the pixel gods that Aground chose not to choose life; it chose something else. It brings out that obsessive pleasure from mining an entire island into a gaping hole in the ocean, without taking so long about getting around to letting you do it at ridiculous speeds with power tools.
The Steam Summer Sale is currently on, running until July 5th, so another 10 days or so from this post, which means plenty of time to grab some bargains.
When 25 of my wishlisted items appeared on sale in my inbox, it was both a blessing and a curse for my wallet. I mean, sure, I spent a lot, but at these savings, it’d be losing money not to buy… uh, right? Double-mortgage aside, given the massive number of games on sale I thought this would be a good time to shortlist a few New Retro Games Staff picks.
Thimbleweed Park (40% off, ~12EUR)
An old-school adventure game throwback by Monkey Island brigand Ron Gilbert himself, Thimbleweed Park kind of gets thrown as Maniac Mansion meets Twin Peaks. Perhaps not totally inaccurate, but… to me, it feels a bit more like Zakk McKracken meets Twin Peaks.
The general impressions of the game were positive, and although while perhaps not hitting the highs of his earlier affairs, Thimbleweed seems to be offering some solid adventure so far. It sports some damn beautiful classic pixel artwork, and the five character + inventory swapping puzzles and bizarre town make it worth the discounted price for sure.
Cosmic Star Heroine (50% off ~8EUR)
I took a look at Cosmic Star Heroine back in Jan, and while I did enjoy it, I also had somewhat mixed feelings about it. A callback to 16-bit SNES rpgs brimming with modern potential, CSH had an interesting fast-paced battle system and creative cast, each with their own unique skillsets, but it tended to burn through everything so fast that it was hard to really dig in to. I finished it, including every side quest and achievement, in 17 hours, and that was at a relaxed pace. Still, sometimes we don’t want to invest 100+ hours into a game, and for less than a tenner, it’s pretty cheap.
Darkest Dungeon (70% ~7EUR)
This is a game I’d been on the fence about for a long time, persisting through numerous sales. The game brings some richly artistic flair to your dungeon crawling, mixed in with Dark Souls level punishing difficulty. As a fan of old-school dungeon crawls like the Gold Box games or even Nethack, this can be a good thing, but I also don’t quite have the patience I did those days. Nevertheless, at 70% off this sale convinced me to take the plunge and I can confirm that I have been enjoying the self-flagellation so far. Even playing on the (later patched in) easier mode, I find myself taking careful steps in combat and each trip feels suitably risky, yet rewarding. Worth the admission price, I think, even if you end up only spending 10 or so of the potentially dozens of hours the game offers.
Dungeon Warfare (66% off, ~3,50EUR)
Dungeon Warfare is a relatively simple but strangely addicting reverse dungeon crawler/TD-style game. Being some sort of sentient evil entity, you decide to fill your dungeons with an assortment of traps to put a stop to the encroaching horde of money-grubbing do-gooders from the inconvenience of killing you. Where the game really excels, however, is how well these traps work together in unison, whether it be pushing peasants into spike pits or pulling knights into an endless pit. Playing with combinations is fun by itself, but the game actively rewards you for doing so, and it gets addicting fast.
There’s a disappointingly increasing trend for browser games and mobile games to try and go big time by releasing a PC port. However, most of the time the leaving in of a horrible UI, dumbed-down gameplay and, in some cases, confounding “freemium pay-to-win” model in the game smells richly of cash grab. Luckily, this is not the case for Dungeon Warfare. It did indeed start as a free browser game (and is still available), and the Steam version simply adds a bit of extra polish and content. This may seem “low effort”, but the game itself is solid, so while technically you can get enough enjoyment from the free version, for me this really was a case of throwing a few deserved bucks the developer’s way.
Legend of Grimrock 2 (60% off, ~9EUR)
I bought this game for full price back in the day and still don’t regret it, even though it took me about 3 years to get around to finishing the thing. Grimrock 2 is an expertly-done modern take on the classic Dungeon Master crawl formula, and is also basically an improvement on its prequel in every way possible. If you like this sort of game at all, and don’t mind square dancing with giant turtles while unkillable air elementals push you into the water where a sea monster blocks the ladder while you drown to death, then hey, there’s no real reason not to get this.
Z-Exemplar (50% off, 2,50EUR)
Taking the spot of one of our games of the year back when we did that sort of thing, Z-Exemplar is a solid, if sometimes unforgiving, classical horizontal-scrolling shoot ’em up harking back, as the name would suggest, to the days of the ZX Spectrum. What helps the game stand out from its inspirations is its solid weapons system, with tons of combinations to choose from, all characteristic from branching vines to lasers to orbs of death, and all upgradable. Better yet, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and sports a lovely british sense of irreverent humour. There are also over 900 levels to non-linearly explore. They are all very short, taking around about 1 minute to beat, but goddam if that’s not insane. I am still nowhere near finishing the game.
Phew, that’s enough for now. I might try to throw together another list in a few days, because hot dam, if this isn’t a disturbingly enticing sale I don’t know what is.
Treasure Adventure Game has been around for at least five years and is by and large an excellent metroidvania adventure. So it’s a bit of a crime that we haven’t covered it yet.
With a full-blown commercial redo now released, I thought it was high tide to don my paper pirate hat and mention the original freeware gem that inspired it.
An old school macintosh hypertext adventure game styled after the horrific works of Jun Ito? Shut up and take my sanity! World of Horror peeks back beyond the cosmic veil to the beginning of the point and click adventure era, in what is as much a love letter to old school gaming as it is to old school horror.
The demo we played (dd12 at the time of downloading, latest version is dd15 -ed) was a bit rough around the edges, with an interface that is sometimes more scary than the monsters, but if you can keep grip of your mental faculties long enough, you may just enjoy World of Horror has to offer before succumbing to the embrace of the eternal abyss.
Ever thought Alone in the Dark was all but the perfect progenitor of survival horror, suffering only from a distinct lack of melons? The answer to that problem which nobody asked for is Melone in the Dark, a pretty impressive jam game experiment that recreates the look n feel of Alone pretty awesomely well, though not much else.
Get your Sean Connery on. No, no, not with a pistol and martini of the shaken variety, but with sandals and robes. Wait, bear with me… The Abbey of Crime Extensum may be about abstinent monks, but it also happens to be a pretty darn polished and challenging The Name of the Rose murder mystery. So it may not have secret agent action, but it does contain a license to kill.
Playing as Franciscan monk Fray William and his young novice Adso of Melk (yes, you sort of have to control both at once), you are thrust into a race against time to find the perpetrator of a series of grisly murders in a Benedictine abbey.
Time for a quick update on some new retro happenings. This week’s them is: terrible controls don’t die, they just fade away. Also, basketball.
- Double Dragon returns, again!
- More masochism – stair quest ascends!
- Boom-shaka-laka! NBA JAM updated!
We played a lot of games this year. Some of them we even wrote about! We generally shy away from too many “best of” listicle style articles, but figured this holiday day is a good time to sit back with a hot cup of mulled beer or flask of vodka and reflect on what a year of games it has been.
New Retro Games’
This isn’t a objective list, just our favourite picks from each category of game we’ve covered. As a basic ground rule, we are favouring fully playable, complete and more recently covered games. Unfinished games (beta, demos, etc) remakes, enhanced editions and the like won’t count unless unless they offered a new and complete playing experience on their own terms.
Without further ado…
Capcom may be taking its latest zombie-or-hillbilly fest back to its survival horror roots, but Murder Mansion takes the same concept back to its roots in a much more literal way – placing a Jill Valentine lookalike in an eerily familiar looking mansion full of undead creatures waiting around for you to shoot the crap out of them.
It’s more of a homage than actual survival horror, with its easy to disaptch enemies and tongue-in-cheek humour making it more fun than scary. It also has a little, unexpected surprise…
Mildly pumping synth, digital implants and synthetic pork balls are the cultural, technical and agricultural signposts of a not-too-distant cyberpunk future hitting major cities soon. And in these gritty futures, there’s always a gritty story to follow: tracking down the man that may or may not have found a cure to Necronite – a digital virus affecting most people.