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Incline First Person Perspective (FPP) Adventure Recommendations

Darkozric

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Quern: Undying Thoughts (2016) Zadbox Entertainment

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Here we go again firstpersonfags, your friendly first person autist is back after finishing Quern - Undying Thougths, another kickstarter game that has been released the same year with Obduction.
Just as it was impossible to talk about Obduction without comparing it to Myst/Riven, I cannot talk about Quern without comparing it to Obduction.
They're both aiming at the same target; a first-person adventure placing yourself in a lonely world in which the puzzles span every aspect of the environment.
Quern is made by 4 Hungarians and raised 25K in contrast to Obduction's $1.321.300, this is another good example that a bigger amount of money doesn't always equal to a better game.

You're a nameless protagonist, mysteriously transported to a deserted island and the first item in front of you is a letter by professor William Maythorn.
The professor informs you that he bears the responsibility of trapping you in this island, but he has no intention of harming you in any way.
As a matter of fact, you should consider yourself lucky for the knowledge he's about to share with you. He also mentions that he will require your assistance in an essential matter (as if you have another choice!).
Quern is about a lost ancient civilization, the Dulmar. Manuscripts refer to this island as the "Forbidden World", there is no day/night cycle nor weather changes, even the whole concept of time has a different meaning.
The first thing you'll notice upon your arrival is that this place is brimmed with endemic minerals that can be used as a weak but consistent energy source.
As you've rightly guessed it, prepare to become a prestigious crystalomancer. You're about to wield crystals to unveil many secrets and solve a lot of shit.

The story is the classic excuse for the puzzle galore that will follow, and mostly told by the letters you'll find scattered around the island, which are also voice acted.
It's familiar yet mysterious; who are these Dulmarians and why have they disappeared? Where is Maythorn and what's his end game? Are you truly alone on this island? How many worlds exist out there?
There are a few Riven similarities, the environmental story-telling is present, but it doesn't adequately support the story in its entirety, as it was in the case of Riven.
There are also references about other places in the "chainworld" but the game stays focused on the story of Maythorn. Those references are hints that there is material for a sequel, if they decide to take this road.
Towards the end, the game delivers an awkward monologue that spoon-feeds you the backstory.
It would've been more satisfying to piece together the story fragments by yourself over the course of the game by interacting with the environment, or finding books.
That said, the story is ok and it even presents you with 2 moral dilemmas.

As for the visuals, I'm not sure if this was their initial artistic vision or the limited budget, but there's a lot of grey/white and orange, it's the complete opposite of Obduction.
In any case, these colors compose a wintery environment in contrast to the usual sunny exotic landscapes.
Quern has the most Riven-esque feel to any non Cyan game I've played. From the adobe walls and houses to the strange steampunk machines, atmosphere is pretty good, but not quite as alien as it was in the Age 233 for example.
Admittedly, after a while it looks a bit samey, but the level design with its cleverly placed shortcuts makes up for it. There is a very special area later on, but I would have liked to see a few more surprises like this one.

Music has a nostalgic Myst-y vibe, there is a plethora of tracks, melodic short tunes, atmospheric percussion with bells, dramatic operatic vocals fused with bass flute,
the heartfelt "Land Of Undying Thoughts" when you finally arrive in a special place, the aquatic and relaxing "Behind the Glass",
"The Library" with its Moonlight Sonata 1st mvt vibe, all of those compose a memorable set. There are 31 tracks, and a few of them got a bit repetitive after a while, but it didn't bother me that much.

Now lets get to the meat of the game, since we have a lot of steaks to grill.
Puzzles in Quern are a double-edge sword. It's pretty obvious that the devs are huge Mystfags and their priority was to deliver a rich game, which I appreciate as an effort.
Quern has a Riven-like connectivity in which some puzzles will interrelate and you'll use what you learn from one puzzle to solve another, those are the peak moments.
The game has lots of puzzle types. It's downright exuberant with them.
Sliders, mechanical puzzles, symbol-finding/symbol-matching, letter puzzles, sound-based puzzles, light-based puzzles, weight-based puzzles, alchemy potion preparations, and that's not remotely a complete list.
Moreover, Quern mostly adheres to the puzzle design rule of "do everything twice" (once as a directly-presented puzzle, and once in a new context where you have to remember that thing you did earlier in the game).
Obduction does this too, but it has fewer puzzle concepts! With Quern, by the time you're halfway through, you're balancing a mental map of everything you've encountered (the mental map part is important, more about this later).
Any of the mechanisms or locations could wind up being relevant again. Not to mention a mental map of the island and where every unsolved puzzle is, because any of them might be next.

All of this sounds good, and often it is, but the problem here is that with this amount of puzzles it is bound to end up with some uninspired ones (I'm looking at you, fucking sound-memory piece of shit).
If you have less experience with the genre you won't notice it, but as a veteran you won't escape the deja-vu feeling.
That been said, the game offers a respectable amount of good ones. Crystal puzzling and the teleportation mechanic were fun, along with a few mechanical ones.
It feels satisfying when you manage to unlock the cleverly placed path-walks.
Myst 3 influences are also present, telescopic puzzles made their comeback in a glorious way.
Towards the finale, you'll encounter 3 very good puzzle set-pieces (won't spoil them), another peak of the game.

Did I mention that you have an inventory? Yup, there is one but don't expect picking up random garbage, there's no inventory bloat here.
There is also an option to highlight interactable items. Usually I don't use this shit in games, I like pixel hunting, but let me tell you that this game could also be titled as "Quern: Unused Hammers".
In a devious trolling move, the devs decided to place hammers and other tools (but mostly hammers) in every fucking corner of the island.
You will frequently find a workbench full of tools, and it's not at all clear which are the important tools and which are just scenery (item highlight is actually useful here).
With so many hammers, I was craving to smash some shit. In the end, the niggas didn't allow me to do that. If you plan to play this, forget the fucking hammers!
As far as I recall, Obduction keeps most of the decorative tools out of reach. It also avoids puzzles that make you think "if I only had a hammer..."
The game has an in-game notebook where you can take screenshots and keep notes, I used it a few times but overall it was useless. Better to have your physical notebook on standby or even your phone for some screenshots, if you're lazy.

Another thing that I want to point out are the switches. Quern is generally in tune with Cyan's style, but it misses a few of the details.
Obduction is good about showing the difference between a two-way switch (which can be flipped back and forth) and a one-way switch (which locks after you flip it).
The control might retract to show that it's locked, or you might see a pin drop into place.
Quern tends not to do this. Thus, one-way switches feel arbitrary.
It's particularly annoying when the effect of the switch is not directly visible; then you have no way to experiment and figure it out.
You might say that every control should be flippable back and forth. That's how real life works. But when designing a game, you often want to simplify.
Once the power has been turned on, it stays on. Once door X is open, it stays open for the rest of the game. And so on.
This is a useful trick for keeping the player out of stuck-unwinnable states.

There's one puzzle that imo was a bit misleading, and that makes it a good case study. I will describe some elements of the puzzle and try to avoid spoilery specifics (mental map relevancy).

The puzzle has two stages ("Do everything twice", remember?). The first stage is a straightforward information-matching puzzle.
You need to look at two clues, figure out what each diagram means, combine the information, and apply the result to a device.
When you push the right buttons, you're not finished. The device ostentatiously turns upside down.
It's clear that you have to use the device again, but with a new button sequence. You now have to interpret the clues "upside down".
There are a couple of things that could apply, so you try one of them. Then you try a different one.
Then you try applying those ideas to the other clue. Then you start trying combinations of interpretations.
None of these works. You have to go to the other side of the island (the mental map that I talked about) and find a place marked by a familiar symbol.
There you will find a third clue, which supersedes one of the originals. Now the second stage is solvable.

The problem here is not missing the third clue; it's believing that the first two clues are sufficient.
The ambiguity of the upside-down hint, while a fine puzzle element in itself, misleads players into thinking that that's the entire second stage of the puzzle - figuring out the right interpretation of "upside down".
Anyway, if you're very observant and capable of "drawing" a good mental map in your head then you probably have no issue with this one, but for me it was a head-scratching situation.


You might think that this is just a lower budget unapologetic Myst-clone, and you're right.
To be more specific, it mostly feels like a realMyst influenced by the first 3 Myst games and a few other adventures.
Although I value when modern devs take cues from the masters, their focus on cramming as many puzzles as they could, has led them to miss the opportunity to introduce innovating ideas.
Some things didn't work as much organically as I wanted them to, but there's plenty of stuff to like here. Personally I enjoyed it more than Obduction.
First person adventures are a niche genre that has been in decline for many years (and still is, with extremely few exceptions).
Thus, it is always a pleasant surprise when an unknown random team appears out of nowhere offering a respectable experience like this.
So yes, I recommend this game, you should play it.
 

awsker

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Quern was such a fantastic game, the drab setting aside. I loved it from start to finish. I didn't care much for Cyan's own return to the genre with Obduction.
 

Cyberarmy

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Maaan, thank you for reminding me The Lighthouse, I really liked that one, along with Mysts. Now I'd like to add some games,

I'm pretty sure Shannara 1995 can count, it got really bad "combat" encounters and really easy puzzles but still loved it as a fantasy adventure game!

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Edit: I also remember another one I liked but was never able to finish, also can't remember its name...
FPP like these and started in a ship or such, we were playing as a woman in white dress if I remember right and was only able to see ourself in a mirror or something like a cutscene.
 
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Darkozric

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Edit: I also remember another one I liked but was never able to finish, also can't remember its name...
FPP like these and started in a ship or such, we were playing as a woman in white dress if I remember right and was only able to see ourself in a mirror or something like a cutscene.
Lost in Time by Coktel Vision?
 

Cyberarmy

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Edit: I also remember another one I liked but was never able to finish, also can't remember its name...
FPP like these and started in a ship or such, we were playing as a woman in white dress if I remember right and was only able to see ourself in a mirror or something like a cutscene.
Lost in Time by Coktel Vision?

Thanks mate, it really was Lost in Time. Not surprised I forgot it considering I played it 30 years ago ... I don't even remerber that we are kind of a time cop in that game.
Graphicly it was much better in my mind but that was pure nostalgia mosty I think.
 

Cyberarmy

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If any Zork experts here want to share their thoughts on the rest of the games, especially on "Return to Zork" and Zork Inquisitor", don't hesitate to do so

Only played Return to Zork other than Nemesis.
It had some not-so-logical and tricky puzzles but some of them had also multiple solitions. Also I think it was possible to fuck up and halt your progress throught the game and it was possible to die.
I remember we had to backtrack a lot (we had an adventure game gang back then, playing all kind of adventure games together) either we suck and didn't see something easy (key under a pillow in Sanitarium...) or because of CD ROMs behaving poorly. Those were great days.<3
 
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Darkozric

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Lost in Time (1993) Coktel Vision

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After many years, I had a nostalgic itch to play 2 Coktel Vision titles, especially for Ween, it felt like visiting an old friend after a very long time.
So I'll add those two to the collection. There's also Fascination, which I've never played, though I'm not sure if it's worth the effort.
For now, let's have a look at Lost in Time.

Lost in Time takes place in 1992, you play as Doralice, a woman who was investigating a shipwreck when suddenly it started moving.
During her investigation, she eventually finds out that she was chosen by the Space Time Patrol to travel back in time, to the year 1840.
It appears that a man from the 22nd century named Jarlath Equs, has obtained a sample of a super conductor that is extremely valuable (and radioactive), and traveled back in time in order to hide it on the island of St. Cristobald.
Doralice's mission is to stop Jarlath at all costs, even if that means endangering her own future existence.

The story is sort of like a French version of "Back to the Future", and despite the dramatic science fiction pretense, the game doesn't take itself seriously.
Some characters are so conveniently placed that it seems inconceivable (time traveler hopw roewur ne ), also the antagonist is like an obnoxious caricature of a cartoon villain.
Overall it gets the game going, but don't expect much.

Graphics are a mix of photo realistic backdrops and hand painted areas.
This is not to say that the game looks bad as they are nicely rendered, however it does look a bit odd. The three major locations are all rendered in completely different art styles.
The galleon is computer-rendered, the French mansion consists of digitized photography, and the island of St. Cristobald has painted backgrounds.
I guess the graphic designers wanted to express themselves in a more experimental way in this title.
Characters are digitized actors, there’s very little FMV during dialogue, so most of the characters are just still photos with flapping lips.
The exception is Doralice, as the camera seems to only focus on her eyes, in an effort to add a dramatic, serious tone, but it's not convincing.

The ambience sound quality is decent, as you can hear the seagull squawk or the ship creaking. When you move, you can hear your footsteps and even have different sounds for different terrains.
I would recommend the CD version since there are few nice tracks, but the voice acting is cheesy, so it's better to pick up the floppy imo.

Problem solving is the standout part of the game. If you want to awaken your inner MacGyver, Lost in Time offers some interesting combinations.
Although I was skeptical in some cases, not sure if they can be applied in real life. A few of them were tricky, but nothing that will drive you crazy.
There was also a stuckable state when I threw an item on a roof, which was needed to combine with another item.
So, I couldn't find a way to get this item back to combine it. In any case, make multiple saves.
The UI is minimalistic and very clear, when you click on some hotspots the game zooms in for further investigation. This rarely happened in adventure games of that time.
Exploration is limited, with the French mansion and St. Cristobald island being about 7-8 screens, but the galleon is larger and more interesting.
Unfortunately, I found the last area of the game pretty weak, both puzzle/exploration and conclusion-wise.
There are also a few irritating timed sequences towards the end of the game, though not as irritating as seen in other games.
As a general tip, I'd say search every container, bag, chest, multiple times.

If you're looking for some Myst-like puzzle solving or puzzle variety, don't bother with this one, as most of the gameplay consists of item finding and combinations.
If playing as "MacGyver's" brown wife sounds somewhat interesting to you, it has its moments.
The only way that I'd recommend Lost in Time is if you're able to conceive it as a piece of adventure history.
It's not bad and doesn't overstay its welcome, but it's not a must play.
 

Darkozric

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WEEN: The Prophecy (1992) Coktel Vision

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You play as Ween, a good wizard of the Blue Rocks kingdom. Only 3 days separate you from the great eclipse, when in a stormy night you receive a visit from your grandfather, the chief magician Ohkram.
Ohkram warns you of a great danger and a prophecy. His great age has exhausted his force and will loose his powers, thus, he will no longer keep the kingdom safe from falling under Kraal's shadow.
Kraal is an ambitious and diabolical sorcerer, with a thirst for vengeance, whose dream is to reign over the Blue Rocks.
You were not yet born into this world when Ohkram defeated him and banished him from the Kingdom. Nobody knew where he'd hidden himself but through Petroy, Ohkram's faithful friend,
he have heard that KRAAL has learned of his weakness and plans to return to rule as a tyrannical Master.
Only fear of the Prophecy keeps him at bay and out of the Kingdom. It is written in the Prophecy:
"On the day of the Great Eclipse, three grains of sand will be placed in the REVUSS by the valiant-hearted and thus will the enemy be annihilated"

The only hope is that you will find the three grains of sand. In order to do so you will, in Ohkram's home,
find an access to the Secret Temple which houses the Hour-Glass of Power, named REVUSS in the Prophecy.
You have three steps to complete and you'll be rewarded with a grain of sand for each success.
You must open the stele which seals the entrance to the cave where the Temple stands.
You must vanquish the Dragon with a hundred faces.
You must convince the guardian to open the Sanctuary.
Thus will you obtain the three grains of sand which, on the day of the Great Eclipse, you will place in the REVUSS.
So will the Prophecy be fulfilled and KRAAL will be vanquished.
Now go wizardfag, you only have three days left!

The story is mostly told by the use of short FMV loops for the characters,
and while it doesn't scream originality, vengeful diabolical sorcerers never get old (especially when the looping animation makes them look like parkinson-diseased).
The plot is not why you would play Ween anyway. Character interaction is light, but Ween still has companions, whose help is needed to solve certain puzzles.
As with Lost in Time, the game often presents a few unexpectedly hilarious situations, despite its darker tone, but the fantasy setting makes it easily digestible.

In the visual department, it's somewhat tonaly dichotomized. The places you explore are pretty and nicely detailed with a creepy atmosphere, but the monsters have a satirical tone in their conception.
The colors are especially noticeable, with the screens varying between monochromes and patchworks of gaudy colors.
In comparison to Lost in Time, Ween is way more charming and visually cohesive.
The catacombs and temples' ambiance, along with the mysterious statues that can be found everywhere, suit the magical setting really well.
There are moments of goofiness that would be more suited in a Gobliiins game, however if you're willing to see it as some kind of MontyPython-esque game, it doesn't loose its charm.
Overall, the whole game is full of weird things, and every new screen is a constant invitation to explore and find what new kinds of surprises the game holds for you.

The music is pretty nice, but it could have benefited from a few more tracks, since it tends to repeat itself quickly.
Sound effects add to the whimsical theme and is of pretty good quality overall.

The puzzles are what one would expect by a Coktel game, plenty of inventory-based puzzles and combinations, however there are 3 major differences compared to Lost in Time.

First, the movement is restricted to 1-2 screens at a time, until you have solved a particular puzzle. In that regard, Lost in Time is somewhat more generous, exploration-wise.
But, it should be emphasized, that there are often more things to do and more objects to manipulate in one Ween screen,
than you find in ten screens of many other games, where you have complete freedom to wander around in search of things to experiment with.
Also, given its age, it doesn't let you loose items or reach dead-end states.

Secondly, later in the game, the puzzle mentality tends to change towards a more obscure approach in some cases, such as the usage of some items (feather, copper ball manipulation), and potion mixing.
That said, given the fantasy setting that the game takes place in, a slight dose of obscurity is to be expected.
Yes, a few of them are tricky to solve, but that's part of the fun. The game doesn't throw simultaneous tons of places to experiment, so eventually you'll stamp upon the solution sooner or later.
I have the impression that trying to cram as many shit to interact with in only 1-2 screens, must've been a creative and fun process for the devs, ingenuity-wise.
An interesting addition is the aforementioned copper ball, which is in your disposal and can be transformed to 3 different items (cauldron, sword, tube) thus opening up a lot of puzzle-solving opportunities.

Finally, as mentioned previously, you're not alone in this journey, there's a vegetarian vampire that can be fed with various fruits in exchange for his help (which is crucial), and your trusty friend Petroy.

In two places the game branches, allowing you to progress by alternate paths that involve solving different obstacles.
To ensure that you don't miss a screen, I'd advise you to save your game at these points.
The second path is obvious when you get to choose a left or right door. However, the first is early in the game when you must get past or around a monster blocking your way.
If you take the water route you will miss the bridge area, and if you succeed in overcoming the monster you will miss the water area. Either path leads you to the next screen.

All in all, Ween is a thoroughly absorbing and often challenging game, which is fun to play, even today.
In other words, this 7MB little game has more soul than many of the modern magenta pseudo artsy fartsy woke shit that every hipster faggot and his grandma are farting out there.
If you've never played Ween back in the day, give it a spin, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
 

Sibelius

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Really interesting thread, never really played many FPP Adventure titles, but some of these look really good.

A couple of other suggestions, the first definitely qualifying for the thread

KGB - 1992 - Dev: Cryo Games Publisher: Virgin Interactive



This is a tough as nails adventure with multiple game over fail states. Really gritty, mature writing and subject matter (was released a year after the fall of the Soviet Union and is set just before). First played it on release at age 17, haven't played since, but have it installed and ready to go when I'm ready.

Second suggestion is less cut and dried, features RTS elements, but is primarily and adventure game (IMO)

Dune - 1992 - Dev: Cryo Games - Publisher: Virgin Interactive



Hybrid adventure and RTS, interesting time based gameplay progression. Story (loosely) based on the first Dune novel/1984 film, so obviously includes interesting themes, characters, setting and overarching plot. Probably has the best of all Ad-Lib soundtracks, ever, the composer Stephan Picq also done the soundtrack for KGB. I have played this several times, including an aborted run last year. Bit of a stretch to call this a First Person Adventure, but I think it deserves some recognition.

Side note, how the hell did Cryo manage to put out two major releases like this in 1992? Clearly not afraid of the crunch like modern devs.
 

Darkozric

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Haven't played KGB, but often is mentioned by codexers. I'll probably add it to my list when I'm in the right mood.
 

Cyberarmy

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KGB - 1992 - Dev: Cryo Games Publisher: Virgin Interactive



This is a tough as nails adventure with multiple game over fail states. Really gritty, mature writing and subject matter (was released a year after the fall of the Soviet Union and is set just before). First played it on release at age 17, haven't played since, but have it installed and ready to go when I'm ready.

Played this ones CD version and I think it was called "Conspiracy". It reminded us Dune and Darkseed for some reasons. One of the few adventures that we couldn't able to finish, first "real timed" game we played back then I guess.
 

Morpheus Kitami

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Ween is serious underrated. It has a lovely mysterious atmosphere and some very nice puzzles. That potion puzzle and the one in the garden with the creature going in molehills in particular stand out after a few years since I last played it.
This is a tough as nails adventure with multiple game over fail states. Really gritty, mature writing and subject matter (was released a year after the fall of the Soviet Union and is set just before). First played it on release at age 17, haven't played since, but have it installed and ready to go when I'm ready.
I note that even people who don't usually like games full of dead ends like this one sometimes. Something about it appeals to people despite being an absolutely merciless game.
 

luj1

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Adventures. An old and important genre. From the rich text-based worlds, to 2D point n' click beautiful sceneries, to complicated immersive FPP 3D worlds. Every style has much to offer.
A genre so important as RPGs. Many fags here would say, "who gives a fuck about adventures", I'd answer to them, niggas, you've already played adventures in your fav RPGs.

I didn't have the chance to indulge on text-based stuff since I was an Amstradfag in the mid 80s, but a few years later, Sierra and LucasArts (early years) had my attention completely for a long time.
Many great games with iconic characters and a huge variety in themes. Most of them in TPP. In the early 90s, I was also addicted to Eye of the Beholder and M&M3.
This style of gameplay was very appealing. Exploration and puzzle solving inside labyrinths, what's not to love here. FPP clicked strongly on me.

During that period, 2 Legend Entertainment titles fell in my hands, Death Gate and Superhero League of Hoboken.
You can imagine my enthusiasm when I realised that both games offer a FPP, accompanied by beautifully drawn sceneries and UI.
I knew that I had something special in my hands, and had a lot of fun with those games.

Until one day, 2 prestigious brothers decided to release Myst. The foundation was laid for what was to come.

I was always fascinated by games that contain overly difficult and cleverly designed puzzles that take a long time to finish.
Even better, when the worlds are more complete, where the culture you're relocating to, has its own language and numerical reference.

I was thinking for a long time to create a dedicated thread for FPP adventures, but I was always being lazy. This period I have a bit of extra time, and I'm in a nostalgic mood. So it's now or never.

A recommendation thread for both old and new codexian meatbags.

There are a few more games that are left out of the list, but that's something for later (depends on the laziness).
Also, there are few that I finished recently. I'll probably include them to the collection at some point.

For now, I'll post a few of my all-time favorites.



Myst (1994) Cyan

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The legendary adventure that unwittingly spawned countless of clones. While nothing in common plot-wise, it is clearly inspired by Jules Verne's Mysterious Island.

A game with an impact so huge, that in 1997 its sales numbers were second to Diablo! Armed with rich lore, beautiful sceneries, clever puzzles,
and last but not least, a melancholic OST combined with the mesmerizing sound effects of running water, waves, wind, doors and levers.

Myst left its mark in gaming history and to a lot of us. it's hard to believe that there are codexers who haven't even tried it yet.



Riven (1997) Cyan

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Myst spawned many clones. And as it always happens in those cases, some of them were good, some, uninspired shit.
Fate brought the Miller brothers to push the limit to the next level, again.

In contrast to Myst, Riven's islands were interconnected and coherent.
It also had a greater puzzle logic where you slowly came to the realization that the Rivenese people's numeric system was based around a specific number,
and that helped you to solve other puzzles and understand the world as a whole, better. It felt organic, like role-playing an anthropologist.
As for the atmosphere, it is still unsurpassed. Its OST is one of the best that ever existed in the genre imo.

Riven is the epitome of thinking, and it's probably the only game that is based on the premise that most people just see stuff but do not notice them.
The only bad thing about it, is when you experience its perfection, it's hard to be satisfied again in the same way.

I'll close with the words of the great Dutch artist M.C. Escher that fit perfectly here:
"I doubt if the public will ever understand, let alone appreciate, the amount of mental gymnastics that has preceded the construction of such an image"

It goes with out saying that this is A MUST play adventure.



Myst 3 (2001) Presto

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I admit that I approached Myst 3 with skepticism. Coming from Riven and not made by the Miller brothers, concern was a logical reaction.
Presto was the one that took the rein to create the 3rd game. Presto is also the company that gave us the Journeyman Projects 1-2-3. They had experience with the genre,
but it was their first time undertaking such a large production. Did they succeed? The short answer is fucking yes. I liked it even more than the first game.

Myst 3 is a great game, it doesn't reach the perfection of Riven but it's only a few steps behind.
It's similar to the first game, with different worlds, and starring the amazing Brad Dourif as Saavedro.
Plot-wise, the story-telling elements are different than Myst. What they tried in Myst 3 is to keep the tension high and constant.
The supposed "villain" is presented from the beginning, and then they made sure you had frequent contacts with him throughout the game, to keep the tension high.
Τhe game is designed in such a way that even when you don't meet the antagonist, you feel his threatening presence all around you.
Whatever you do, you know very well that you will be led to a dramatic finale, to a head-on fucking confrontation.

Puzzles are exceptionally well-crafted. Εspecially in Narayan, there are 2 of the smartest puzzles in the game, that rival the corresponding Riven puzzles in wit and originality.
Myst 3 uses a mix of pre-rendered backgrounds and real time 3D to achieve the 360-degree view. Vistas are truly exotic.
Music is exceptional, "Atrus' Study", "Saavdero's Theme", and "Theme from Edanna" to name a few. Though it doesn't reach the almost perfect performance of Riven imo.

Bottom line, a must play adventure.



Schizm: Mysterious Journey (2001) LK Avalon Detalion

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Schizm is another good example of a game that reached so close to the greatness of Riven. I place Schizm and Pandora Directive immediately after Riven.
The game takes place in 2083, a habitable planet has been discovered in a distant galaxy. Various research missions that left earth trying to discover the secrets of this planet, ended in failure.
They named the planet Argilus, and it is about a planet with obvious signs of a lost civilization.

The most impressive find is the so-called living ships, a series of organic vessels, the result of extremely advanced bio-technology.
Three teams of scientists were sent to establish bases. Αfter a few months the first supply ship is sent, with a crew of the 2 protagonists.
Αll communication channels are open but no one was visible, no one answered. Α storm of meteors hits their ship while in orbit around the planet and they decide to escape with the escape pods.
They fall into planet Argylus without the slightest idea of what awaits them.

Graphics are deliciously surrealistic, the amazing color renditions create an amazing world environment.
Flying cities, mysterious underground locations, abandoned industrial facilities, organic spaceships, this is exploration porn.
The same goes for the OST, it emits an atmospherically psychedelic vibe that is rarely seen in games. Tracks such "Aurora" (Strongly reminds me of Vangelis), "Singing Towers", "Living Ships", and "Fish Ballon" are simply unforgettable.

The game world is divided into four large areas and the quality of the puzzles offered by the game is excellent. A mix of puzzles of varied type, including mechanical, logical, sound and inventory-based.
Schizm is very reminiscent of Riven, and follows roughly the same logic in terms of solving the main puzzles.

Prepare your notebook n' pencil, you're gonna need them.



Under A Killing Moon (1994) Access Software

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Under A killing Moon could well be included among the film-noir films. Well, it's not black and white but who gives a fuck, it has all the other elements that constitute to an authentic film-noir motion picture.
The hero is Tex Murphy, a PI, penniless, alone - since his wife left him for a plumber - and not just unlucky, but what we call, "loser for life".
The story evolves in 2042 in an area of SF, where the mutants live after the nuclear destruction of the earth.

The interesting thing about the plot is that the organism called "Brotherhood of the Secret Doctrine" is real, and springs from the depths of human history.
I'm not going to expand on that, you can do your own research, if this is something that interests you. Overall the scenario is compelling.
Puzzles are good and always logical. There's also a timed segment that you have to avoid a specific character.

The best part for me here is the atmosphere. Τhe music highlights the detective/mystery side of the adventure in a unique way.
Εndless self-mockery, monologues for everything, erotic mood, lots of booze and cigarettes.The quality shit we love.
Controls are a bit tricky to get used to, but after a while you'll get the handle of it.
Under A Killing Moon was a good start for what was to come.

Definitely recommended.




Pandora Directive (1996) Access Software

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2043
The notorious detective suddenly finds himself mixed-up in an intrigue related to the famous UFO crash story in Mexico, later known as the "Roswell case"(Yes, it was aliens).
The US government cover-up, is perhaps the biggest secret of the 20th century. But you see, Tex doesn't like secrets at all...
Pandora Directive sets some new standards in adventure gaming.

The plot starts with an even stronger sense of mystery and intrigue. Who is the black arrow killer? Exactly what role does Lucia Parcel play? Who truly is Fitzpatrick?
I won't expand on the scenario further, but you should know that there are 3 separate paths to follow and 7 different endings. Which add greatly to replay ability.
Atmosphere is similar to Under A Killing moon, you'll get the same quality shit that we love, even in larger doses.

Τhe puzzles vary in shape and difficulty, depending on the difficulty level you have chosen.
Τhe basic form of the puzzles are more of the adventure-style item-based puzzles, but there are several of the classic ones.
I found it more difficult than UAKM, a welcome improvement. If I recall correctly, around chapters 8 and 9 there is some good and hard shit to solve.

It's a prestigious game, one of the finest FMV productions. If for some reason you can't afford to play all Tex Murphy games, this is the one that you should not miss.



Zork Nemesis (1996) Zombie LLC

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Confession time: My first contact with the Zork series started with Zork Nemesis. I was aware of the Zork series but I never had the chance to play those games.
Also I know that Nemesis has nothing in common with the old games, and for this reason alone, it may have caused the old fans to react negatively.
But for me that means nothing, since the game was truly a work of art.

The 4 alchemists who were responsible for prosperity, are all now dead from the Νemesis' curse.
Υou, the character, are the only hope to find the 4 elements that correspond to the elements of nature but also to their special abilities, so that the famous curse of Νemesis can be broken and the Forbidden Land can be saved.

I liked that the background of the story is slowly revealed in a unique, almost mystical way, as only the best games manage to achieve this.
There are four worlds and you can travel to in whichever order you prefer. Βut first you have to solve the secret of the temple and find the elements of the alchemists.
The thick dark atmosphere in combination with the excellent script material, created a world that I have yet to see, since the era of Myst.

And don't get me started on sound and music, the moment you set afoot outside the temple, the OST shows its sharp teeth with the opening track.
Just go and listen to "The Frigid River Branch Conservatory", "The Great Mountain Asylum" and "The Irondune Castle", to get a glimpse of the madness that awaits you.
Exotic sitars, infuriated violins, atmospheric synths, tribalistic percussion instruments, operatic vocal lunacy, it's a fucking sonic feast.
Art direction is exceptional, my artfaggotry meter exploded with this shit.

The game contains puzzles in the style established by Myst and some of them are extremely difficult.
Although in the game, there are hints for almost all the puzzles, you will have a hard time finishing this delicious shit.
Highly recommended, and recently I found that it can be also be played in ScummVM.

(If any Zork experts here want to share their thoughts on the rest of the games, especially on "Return to Zork" and Zork Inquisitor", don't hesitate to do so)




Obsidian (1997) Rocket Science Games

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I recall discovering this a bit later (1997 was the Riven year after all). I wasn't sure what to expect, but when I pressed the play button and watched the intro, I knew that something special was in front of me.
The game takes place in 2066, a team of scientists created and launched Ceres, a satellite that utilizes nanotechnology to repair the earth's polluted environment.

You play as Lilah and her partner Max. After the successful launch, it's time for some rest, for fucking vacations.
Νear the camp, Lilah and Max have found a black crystal. The crystal begins to grow and Max disappears. Βefore she can do shit, Lilah is also absorbed by the crystal. An intriguing start with a strong plot overall.

The graphics are a mix of videotaped spaces and special effects, combined with videotaped characters. it's a distinct style, whether one likes it or not. Personally I dig it.
Sound and music are quite good, but without reaching the unique standards that Zork Νemesis has set in similar productions.

The atmosphere is unique in each world that you visit. But there is one catch here.
Υou can't visit the worlds in the order of your preference, like in Myst.
Ιn other words, it highlights the scenario background.

Most of the puzzles are quite good, but some require a special tuning/restriction, which reduces their value.
I recall this impressive puzzle with the cubicles, one of the most original labyrinths Ι've seen, insane shit.
The only flaw that comes to mind is the absence of subtitles, but thankfully the voice acting is clear.

An easy recommendation if you like hard sci/fi stuff mixed with surrealistic fantasy.



Lighthouse: The Dark being (1996) Sierra On-Line

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The success of Myst did not left Sierra unmoved.
The story of Lighthouse is full of otherworldly secrets, complex mythos and lots of diaries to read.
You live alone in the Pacific Northwest, attempting to stave off writer’s block.
One particularly stormy evening, your neighbor, the scientist Dr. Jeremiah Krick, frantically calls you to his lighthouse home to assist in a life-or-death matter.

As you discover, through his experiments, Dr. Krick has transformed the lighthouse into the receiver for a trans-dimensional portal.
The creature living on the other end, the eponymous "Dark Being", has taken Krick and his daughter Amanda away to his volcano lair for unknown, nefarious purposes.
Out of a sense of obligation, you dive into this new world with no way home.

Τhe setting is very intriguing, a world still crawling its way out from an ancient conflict between technology and nature.
It's not a horror adventure but the subtle horror vibe is present the moment you set afoot in the first area.

The art director did a great job of presenting a world reminiscent to Myst but with its own flavor. Everything looks and feels great.
Music and sound have been created with great care. I still recall the moment when you arrive on the Temple of the Ancient Machines to meet Liryl. Epic shit.
Fav track picks: "Martin's roost", "Temple of the Ancient Machines", and "Towers of Island Fortress".

Puzzles are similar to Myst, though the game includes an inventory, meaning that you'll get a lot of adventure-style item-based puzzles plus the classic mechanics.
The difficulty is quite good without being extremely hard. My favorite part was having to repair the ornithopter and fly into the next area.
And of course the submarine, learning slowly how to pilot the sub was a delight.

If you played all of the Myst games and you crave for more, Lighthouse does not disappoint.



Shivers (1995) Sierra On-Line

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Another Sierra classic, this time a proper horror adventure.

The idea was yours alone, to spend an evening at Professor Windlenut's museum and try to find out what exactly happened in this place 15 years ago,
when some students disappeared and the police never found a trace of them.
Your four friends lock you in, and they'll come get you in the morning. So you have a whole nightmarish night ahead of you.
Almost immediately you find the professor's missing body, his ghost will explain to you in general terms what has happened.

The atmosphere is quite eerie, it's a horror adventure with intense elements of the metaphysical.
It is very important that even from the first steps the atmosphere conveys mystery, anxiety and terror.

Sierra dared and presented their first game with 3D rendered photo realistic graphics. The result is more than impressive.
Τhe world is crammed with psychedelic tendencies. Shapes, colors, pure psychedelic compositions. Τhe game looks fantastic overall, but certain rooms of the museum really stand out.
The music does not reach the greatness of similar games, but it has some musical patterns like the one of the labyrinth in the subterranean world that sends you straight to hell.

Puzzle-wise, your goal is to capture the ten ixupi spirits in order to get out of the museum alive, and the game has quite a few random elements.
Special observation is required, since there are scattered hints for most of the puzzles, but the game still remains difficult.
Capturing the spirits is challenging, but rewarding at the same time.

Α strong recommendation for the adventure horror aficionados.




Riddle of the Spinx (2000) Old World Studios

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The famous archaeologist Sir Gil Blythe manages to find a secret chamber under the sphinx, as well as a mysterious papyrus.
However, by breaking the seal of the papyrus, he releases an ancient curse that will cause his death. Being certain that he is going to die, Sir Gil calls the protagonist.
While at the same time he has taken care to artfully hide all his findings, so that they cannot be found and stolen by some random competitor.
Υou arrive by helicopter and your first task is to find the papyrus.
Οnce you manage to find it, you begin the great exploration within the secret tunnels of the sphinx and the secret chambers of the Great Pyramid.

An impressive fact is the completeness of the historical elements surrounding the game, as well as the convincing reproduction of the interior of the Great Pyramid.
The graphics are a bit outdated, but some rooms are not that bad. They did a decent job in some rooms containing treasures.

The music is quite atmospheric and works well for the player in his attempt to solve the mysteries of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx.
"Festive Dance", "Astrospiritual", and "Mystic River Dance" are nice and relaxing tracks.

The Egyptian ambiance is good overall, from the moment you enter the pyramid the atmosphere captivates you.
You feel like a pioneering explorer moving through an imposing space, trying to decipher its well-hidden secrets.
The use of the remote control robot to explore the very tiny spaces was incline.

Speaking of mysteries, the puzzles vary in difficulty, there are some that are very easy, and others that require patience, proper evaluation and detailed note-taking.
Εven the smallest date you find, it's likely that it will play its role elsewhere. Τhe key here is to always combine the data you collect and use them creatively.
If this seems easy to you, forgetti.

The game is an Egyptian precious stone waiting to be discovered (I recommend the remake, played it recently and it's gud).




Labyrinth of Time (1993) Terra Nova Development

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Greek mythology has been and will always be attractive to adventure writers and not only for games but in general.
I didn't play it when it was released, but when I first heard about this game in early '00s, I couldn't wait to dive in.
Crete, King Minos, Daedalus, the labyrinth, a promising potential.

Everything around you has turned a strange black and white. You think that something is fucking wrong with you.
As you prepare to enter the train, a strange apparition is in front of you, it is the spirit of Daedalus.
He tells you about the past, about the time when he had built the labyrinth. He explains to you how he was captured by the spirit of King Minos in the world of the dead,
and how he was forced to build a new labyrinth so powerful in space and time, that nothing like it has ever existed.
Daedalus can't resist Minos' plans since he's controlling his spirit. The only hope for resistance is the player, this is the reason that he pulled you from your world, into another dimension within the labyrinth.
You have to find a way to destroy the maze before it is completed.

I quite liked the art style in this one, I was never sure what to expect in any new location.
The designs and especially the colors are truly great. Τhe music is a delightful mix of different genres with many proggy and orchestral references.
To name few of my favorites, "intrigue", "ravages of time", "Aztec Gold", and "Telecom".

Puzzle-wise, it is a different story. From what I recall, there aren't many puzzles, and you spend most of your time going from one part of spacetime to another.
Although there are some intricate puzzles, requiring the manipulation of objects in different dimensions which was interesting.
It could've be much better if it offered a richer gameplay.

But still, I had a good time playing this.



Amber: Journeys Beyond (1996) Hue Forest Entertainment

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I saved for last a game that is not a first line production, but rather an obscure one. I discovered it randomly a few years ago and I gave it a spin.
It's not particularly a great game but the atmosphere is quite good, and I know that there are a few serious atmofags around here.

The game starts with a message from Joe, he's an old colleague of Dr Roxanne Westbridge - founder and president of Bio-Psi technologies, and he's asking for your help.
Dr. Roxanne deals with the study of supernatural phenomena and other shit. She recently bought a mansion which she equipped it with the latest technology,
in order to conduct her experiments under the best conditions. Joe is worried about her, since Dr Roxanne wants the experiments to be done on her, and asks you to watch over her so that nothing terrible happens.

As you are driving to the mansion, a strange phenomenon occurs and while trying to avoid it, you lose the control of the car and fall into a lake next to a rural road.
The game starts when you regain consciousness and find yourself lying on your back, on a dock at the edge of the lake.
To help your friend to regain her consciousness you have to enter the world of 3 ghosts separately and find the cause of each one's death.

The plot is well written, filled with many interesting characters - all of them are dead with the exception of Roxy who is unconscious.
For the few human characters who exist in the game, Full Motion Videos are filmed with real actors.
Visually the game looks ok but the creepy and eerie ambiance is achieved mostly by the soundtrack.

The puzzles are closely tied to the story-line, mostly inventory-based. However, they're not particularly challenging, and this is the Achilles heel of the game.

Still, it's an interesting game and its creepy atmosphere reminded me that of Barrow Hill.



I remember Riddle of the Spinx, great game
 
Joined
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I'm a sucker for these KHEOPS/Microids games. They feature great 3D-graphics, well researched backgrounds and feel as if you play history.

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Hands down: One of the best games I've ever played. Why? Because it features a highly elaborate narrative, mixing history and myth in a unique way, transcending different historical periods and bringing some of the most creative puzzles on the table. The atmosphere is spot-on, the way the Dracula theme is presented feels new, very dark and extremely compelling. A masterpiece.

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Based on elements of the novel Stars of Eger (which I didn't knew) and of Hungarian medieval history this game takes players to modernd ay Hungary, to the city Eger and tells an interesting story spanning centuries. What makes this adventure unique is the fact that you are almost free to explore the beautiful city as you wish. There are limitations but you can click yourself through large parts of the city. As everything is based on photographs it feels very real and is, accompanied by a congenial sound design and unobtrusive music, an almost relaxing experience. This game uses the immersie potential of 360°-3D-views to evoke a very strong feeling of being there in the player.

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Two well made horror adventures, I prefer Scratches with it's typical Victorian Mansion experience. Plus it gave me the worst shock in my entire gaming career. Darkness Within is highly atmospheric too but with less focus than Scratches.

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Now this is a strange, but very atmospheric adventure. I very much enjoyed its surreal designs.

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How come nobody mentions The Last Express? One of the greatest achievements of storytelling, this pièce d'art manages to create an authentically feeling ride abord the Orient Express during the last days before WW1, telling a masterfully crafted story between history and ficition with a vibrant atmosphere and a cast of fascinating passengers to acompany the murder mystery. The greatest aspect is the almost realtime course of the game: The different characters lead their own lives, things happen even if you are not there to observe them, so you'll never see the whole story in all angles if you only play it once. This game is Jordan Mechners masterpiece in my opinion. Highly recommended - but everybody is advised to play the original game, not the uglyfied remaster with its horrendous GUI that has a negative impact on immersion.

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This one is the only "full 3D"-game in my assortment here - but what an experience! It's similar to The Last Express in some regards - here too the game develops in real time and events unfold regardles if you are there to see them or not. You'll explore the mysterious death of Nicola Tesla and try to solve the murder. You are not part of the story - at least not in the way you'd think - but observe everyone of the characters and slowly understand more and more of their secrets. Highly fascinating experiment of storytelling.

I'm sure I'll find a ton more but that's it for the moment.
 
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Darkozric

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Submachine: Legacy (Mateusz Skutnik) 2023

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There may not be enough free time to spend on 100-150 hours games, but when it comes to atmospheric indies with reasonable length, it's a different case.
Especially when the game has you wearing the shoes of an amnesiac troglodyte, crawling through the rusty sewers and wind-blown corridors of the subnet, where even a slight trace of curiosity may turn out to be a ticket of no return.
Welcome to the desolated world of Submachine, enjoy your teleportations!

Submachine series is a collection of flash-era point-and-click games created by potato Mateusz Skutnik in 2005.
A collection of 10 games, filled with puzzle rooms where you have to navigate screen-to-screen, and solve all shorts of mechanical puzzles.
It's a vast network of desolate locations containing puzzles, secrets, notes and items to help you along the way.
Submachine: Legacy connects all the Submachine games in one "canonical" string, and also adds some form of new "Meta-Puzzles".
This version also includes the side games: "Submachine: Ancient Adventure" as "The Ruin", "Submachine: 32 Chambers" as "The Sand", "Submachine: FLF" as "The Future", and a remixed version of "Submachine: Universe" as "Shattered Quadrant".

Story-wise, you'll follow the footsteps of a banished lighthouse keeper, discovering his descent into the ruins of Submachine.
You play as an unidentified amnesiac protagonist who awakes, and has to solve different puzzles in order to escape.
The story in Legacy is divided into 10 chapters, and it's conveyed by a series of notes that you'll collect and read about the happenings of a scientist named Murtaugh and his communications with a woman named Elizabeth;
as they explored the world around them and performed experiments with exploration teams on concepts such as teleportation, future technology, and multiple realities.
Its cryptic nature is intriguing and there are a few nice twists here and there, but it never really delves deep enough into any of its characters or concepts.

Graphics are hand-drawn, the art style has a slightly cartoony look, so the pixel-hunting is almost non-existent.
The exception is the red marbles (Micro Stabilizers), which are not necessary for completing the game. They usually serve to reveal bonuses that add to the game lore.
I'm not a big fan of cartoony style, but here it manages to deliver a slightly creepy and otherworldly feel at some points.
The sci-fi environment features diverse settings of multiple types of architecture that have often been twisted and broken, as if time and space themselves have been warped or torn apart.
Υou'll start traversing through simple rooms in the lighthouse, and the lab with their minimalistic decoration.
As you progress, you'll find yourself exploring more detailed locations, such which include decaying buildings with rusty tunnels and ruins/temples inspired by various cultures.
Environmental animation is also minimal and the lightning, where it exists, makes the static scenes more vibrant.

The soundscape completes the haunting loneliness of the submachine universe, it characterizes the subnet so masterfully by bringing out a devastating level of isolation.
Metallic noises, wind chimes, electrical buzzing, eerie sounds supported by atmospheric synths, sacred chants, everything that one could expect from a setting like this, is there.
It's a good example of how a well composed soundscape can elevate a game with such minimalistic art style. I can't imagine playing the game without it, since it's half of the experience.

Submachine: Legacy feels like a pocket-size Myst, or a dioramic dungeon crawler navigating from room to room through a picture-viewing device, but instead of slashing monsters you encounter many obstacles to overcome.
Some of which you'll solve by bringing the machinery back online, tinkering with it, turning it off and on again.
For others you'll need to find missing parts, levers that were broken off or stolen, depleted power sources, gears, cogs, lamps, coils and so on.
Most of the switches are one-way, which reduce greatly the headache, although there are many flippable levers.
Τhe use of items with the environment is always logical, but unfortunately item combination is non-existent.
On the plus side, it's nice how fast you can zip around the levels to try out new solutions, no loading times or waiting for any transitions from one exit to another.
Transition movement might be dazedly irritating for some players, but if consumed in small doses, it's a joy to get lost in these mazes. It has this "just one more room" addiction!
Overall, Legacy has a smooth transition in difficulty, the first few chapters are easy enough without being insultingly easy, and by chapter 5 and onward it becomes significantly better.
The weakest chapter imo was "The Loop" (chapter 3), which is self-explanatory, it's all about looping autism.
My favorite chapters were 7,8,9, and of course 10. A few thoughts for each one.

Chapter 7: The Core
The core puts you in the Winter Palace with its garden of fluorescent plants, where you have to gain entry to Elizabeth's ship.
In order to reach Elizabeth's ship, a metallic capsule must be summoned by using a passcode-protected transmitter found in the observatory.
Thus, you'll have to use multiple portals to access different parts of the palace in search of those passcode symbols.
Atmospheric location, which promotes observation.

Chapter 8: The Plan
At first glance it seems like a small area, some kind of dock made of white stone to which an oval-shaped ship is docked.
Until you find a remote control panel (navigator), and realize that there are multiple realities in this small area, each one with different architecture, waiting to be explored.
Although it's not as easy as it sounds, since you have to unlock laser devices (beamers) to get access to every reality, and there are 6 of them, fun stuff!
Interesting location, design-wise.

Chapter 9: The Temple
You'll discover a fountain of karmic water and use some bowls to open a path to the pyramid, end eventually to the temple.
This is the location where you'll learn more about Murtaugh and Elizabeth, and there's plenty of shit to do.
You'll be required to use the navigator again, but this time with a different twist. Instead of alternate realities, you'll summon alternate items.
Great chapter with a Chinese/Indian touch.

Chapter 10: The Exit
The crème de la crème of the game, and the longest one.
You'll be given the opportunity to explore the captain's ship, which you can use it to access the rest of the areas.
Soon enough, things will get more interesting when you find the central teleportation device.
Each combination will transfer you to a different location, and each location has its own obstacles to overcome along with plenty of karma portals, a new technology that works with light spheres.
You will definitely need to "draw" a mental map to keep things in check for this one.
Additionally, a few locations from each previous chapters will also make their appearance, but the ravages of time are clearly visible.
Plenty of devices to use and items to find, fitting atmosphere that prepares you for the climax of this crazy ride, and a serviceable conclusion where you have to return from where you started.

Legacy doesn't have any significant drawbacks, and most of them are of personal preference.
I would have liked a slightly more increased difficulty for the first few chapters, as well as more developed concepts and characters.
And if I were to nitpick a few things, that would be the jingle sound effect when you pick up items or solve puzzles.
It's the type of sound you often hear in hidden object games, which imo, does not really fit into the setting.
Also, managing notes can be a bit messy at times. IIRC the flash games had some sort of clipboard as to not clutter the inventory too much.

Submachine: Legacy is the kind of game to play when you want to take a few breaks from lengthier games, or you can ignore me by going full teleportation schizo and finish it in 2-3 sessions.
It will take you around 10-15 hours to complete everything, probably even more if you don't rush it.
If the art style and the constant screen transitions isn't a deal breaker for you, then it's a decent indie recommendation.

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A few quick thoughts about the extra chapters

Submachine: The Ruin
An ancient temple with various architectures. The outside of the ruins has a medieval castle style and features several statues depicting dragons with a Japanese touch.
Τhe inside of the ruins have an Egyptian and Mycenaean architectural style with statues of horses/jackals and several golden statues of winged scarabs.
A small area, which can be finished around 5-10 min. The Ruin made me think that a FPP Indiana Jones game could be possible with this engine.
This subnet belongs to a museum!

Submachine: The Sand
You must progress through 32 rooms of sand, in search of Mesoamerican calendar.
Similar to the Ruin, but with an additional 5-10 minutes.
Repair the incomplete calendar and stop the predicted doomsday!

Submachine: The Future
A pretty weird 10-15 min chapter that has you locked into an isolation cell with padded walls (could've been a suitable alternate conclusion after witnessing the madness of chapter 10 ).
Not long after your escape, you'll find yourself in an abandoned house with pictures and objects that evoke past memories, that belong to an unspecified person.
Τhe goal is to operate an old image-projector.

Submachine: Shattered Quadrant
You'll start off in a laboratory location, collecting transporter tickets which are inserted into a punch-card system transporter. SQ is the longest among the extra chapters, with several locations and puzzles.
It serves as the ultimate "meta-puzzle". In order to progress, you must find and activate a series of monoliths hidden within the previous chapters.
One puzzle to rule them all!
 
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luj1

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Hands down: One of the best games I've ever played. Why? Because it features a highly elaborate narrative, mixing history and myth in a unique way, transcending different historical periods and bringing some of the most creative puzzles on the table. The atmosphere is spot-on, the way the Dracula theme is presented feels new, very dark and extremely compelling. A masterpiece.


Have to agree. It had quite scary jumpscares too. I wonder if it's on GOG.
 

Morpheus Kitami

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I'm not a big fan of cartoony style, but here it manages to deliver a slightly creepy and otherworldly feel at some points.
While I didn't realize it at the time I originally played, the dude has a very Moebius influenced artstyle that's really cool. Also, I think some of the earlier games have different versions from their original flash era, before the story of the series was fleshed out.
It is and should actually be purchased on GOG as it's the original game there, not the obscenely butchered, simplified shit Bigfish later re-released. Steam sells this crippled abomination.
The hidden object game company has the rights to that series and they did something to them? Could you explain?
 
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I'm not a big fan of cartoony style, but here it manages to deliver a slightly creepy and otherworldly feel at some points.
While I didn't realize it at the time I originally played, the dude has a very Moebius influenced artstyle that's really cool. Also, I think some of the earlier games have different versions from their original flash era, before the story of the series was fleshed out.
It is and should actually be purchased on GOG as it's the original game there, not the obscenely butchered, simplified shit Bigfish later re-released. Steam sells this crippled abomination.
The hidden object game company has the rights to that series and they did something to them? Could you explain?
Yeah, that nefarious company. Don't know much about the background, only that they deleted or altered many parts (puzzles), splitted the game in three parts and sold them separately. An absolute disgrace. The Steam reviews reflect that.
 

Darkozric

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Elvira II: Jaws of Cerberus (1991) Horror Soft

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Let's start May by re-visiting a traditional horror adventure/RPG.
Most of you will remember Horror Soft, an unfortunately short-lived company that gave us a few unique rough gems.
In Jaws of Cerberus, you'll transform from a peanut-brain wimp to a magic wielding killing machine, in an attempt to save the most prestigious goth boobs in adventure history, or die trying.

One quiet night, you arrive late at Black Widow Productions studio to meet Elvira.
You see, Elvira is not your random average thot, she's a powerful witch and the founder/CEO of Black Widow Studio - a horror studio specialized in producing gory quality shit.
Everything seemed strangely quiet, when suddenly a vision of Elvira appears out of nowhere, telling you that she's been captured by a triple headed guy with a severe body hair problem!
Before she can tell you which studio she's in, the spell is interrupted by an unknown evil force.
The task is simple, get in the studio, find a way to lift the befalling curse, and save Elvira from this triple headed monstrosity before it's too late.
Eventually, you'll meet a NPC that will give you additional details about your mission, just try not irritating him with silly questions, it might backfire!

Visually, the game has aged beautifully.
Rather than being truly 3D, the game simulates the player's view by using a large amount of 2D images which depict the rooms and corridors from various spots and angles.
Every area is nicely hand-drawn, adding a unique vibe and atmosphere to the ominous nocturnal setting.
You'll visit 3 movie sets in your attempt to find Elvira - the haunted house, the insect-infested caverns, and the graveyard catacombs (plus the main studio where you start).
Among those areas the haunted house certainly stands out from the rest. The dungeons are not bad per se, although they could've been a little better with a few additional details.
The UI also works as a reminder of the lost art of lovely and practical designed UI's, and contains all the important information you need to know, the paper-doll, the stats, the items, and the spells.
Another visual highlight is the numerous death scenes, which are nicely detailed and often hilarious.
It's not as thickly atmospheric or "scary" as other horror titles, but there is blood, gore, mayhem, death, blood, paranormal phenomena, battle with Goons from the Great Beyond, blood, plunder, carnage... did I mention that there's blood?

Regarding music there are 2 options, the GOG dos version or the Amiga, the latter being superior in every way.
The music is made by Gerald Woodroffe - a session musician who played on Black Sabbath's "Technical Ecstasy" album, and Robert Plant's debut solo album "Pictures of eleven".
There aren't many tunes in the game but they sound good, especially those with the slap bass phrasing, which set the mood for some good old hack and slash.

The gameplay is the strongest point of the game. Jaws of Cerberus is an adventure/RPG hybrid dungeon crawler, so you'll have a lot of stuff to experiment with.
Let's start with the role playing elements.
As Elvira's mamma used to say, if you want to tell the men from the boys, check their stats. Here's how we tell the studs from the duds here at Black Widow Studios.
For starters, you choose a job - a stuntman, a private eye, a programmer, or a knife thrower, with the private eye being the most
Balanced


Your stats consist of Strength, Constitution, Accuracy, Will Power, Intelligence, Poison Resist, Weapons Skill, and Magic Resist.
On the main UI you can always see your level, exp points, power points and hit points.
The paper-doll is an important element, there's a total amount of your health above it, but also health of individual body parts. Be cautious with the individual parts or else there will be consequences.
Keeping those health numbers high is your top priority, protect that precious head of yours and make sure that you've mixed a lot of "Healing Hands" (non-ingredient spell).
You gain experience by exploring, reading, spell-crafting, problem-solving, and killing a lot of shit.

Combat has been tweaked to be more hacky-slashy this time, nothing to write home about, but at least it's more tolerable compared to the first game.
It's faster and offers 4 different modes - normal, defensive, fierce, and berserk, with the berserk option being the obvious prestigious choice.
Be prepared for some gory level grinding.

Magic system is similar to the first game, you're gonna need ingredients to create spells (there are a few non-ingredient low-level starting spells).
Spells now require a minimum level before you can craft them, which gives some use to the experience stat beyond, not just make you hit harder or simply serving as a score for the game.
They can be mixed just like in Elvira I, however, the required ingredients are somewhat vaguely described than in the first game.
For example, the level 4 "Fireball" spell simply states that it needs a flammable item.
This can be any piece of paper, alcohol, matches, etc. Guessing which items can be used in spell-crafting is a small puzzle in itself.
As a general tip, "Brainboost" should be cast strategically before crafting spells, this way you'll have more spells in your disposal.
Also, you can't spam spells like an autist since you have a limited pool of power points, fortunately they re-charge slowly over time.
Your grimoire includes 37 spells, and a few of them are crucial to finishing the game.

Exploration overall is satisfying, with the main studio and the haunted house serving as the adventure puzzle part of the game and they're pretty straightforward, navigation-wise.
The caverns and the graveyard catacombs are trickier to navigate. This is when the game feels like an actual dungeon crawler.
Of course, you shouldn't expect Eye of the Beholder map complexity, especially for the caverns, however the catacombs (studio 3) are a bit better.
The game does not provide an auto-map, you either "draw" a mental map and go as you see fit, or make an actual map, or you can find a few good ones online.
Also, you can visit all areas in any order of your choice, adding a good amount of freedom.

Now about the problem solving, get ready to carry a huge amount of shit, so feel free to help yourself to anything that isn't nailed down.
However, don't try to be a crazy hoarder, there is a weight limit in the game, that depends upon your strength.
Luckily, the game simply states when you're going to go overweight and doesn’t allow you to do it, instead of reducing your attributes like in the first game.
You can also store items in any room of your choice, making it your "hub" and interact with it later, quite useful.

Many items are used for crafting spells, others to interact with the environment, and of course, there are a lot of useless stuff too.
The difficulty is pretty high, since not only you have to keep track of the plethora of items on your disposal, you also have 37 spells to take in account for potential solutions!
If all of these seem too much, you'll be delighted to know that at least there aren't many item combinations!
Puzzles are both item and spell-based and most of the times are logical, although quite tricky to solve. Observation and experimentation are the key to succeed.
There are a few what the fuck moments, but they're not enough to tarnish the game. I also really liked the fact that you can solve puzzles with more than one way.
A good example of this is the fish-tank puzzle.

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To no-ones' surprise, this precious freedom comes with a caveat - there are a few unwinnable states. It goes without saying you have to make multiple saves.
If you haven't played Elvira II, it is strongly suggested to read the following, although I'll try to avoid spoilery specifics.

Don't use the starting cross for mixing spells.

There is a room with dead bodies in the haunted house, before you enter, make sure you have a heating device.

There's also a room with Frankenstein, don't click on him for any reason. You must do something else first before cutting the wires.


Elvira II: Jaws of Cerberus is a difficult and addicting game, the kind of game which would be impossible to make by the modern decline standards.
It has a few notable flaws, but once it clicks, you can't put it down until the mistress is saved.

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Jenkem

その目、だれの目?
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Make the Codex Great Again! Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. I helped put crap in Monomyth
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Based on elements of the novel Stars of Eger (which I didn't knew) and of Hungarian medieval history this game takes players to modernd ay Hungary, to the city Eger and tells an interesting story spanning centuries. What makes this adventure unique is the fact that you are almost free to explore the beautiful city as you wish. There are limitations but you can click yourself through large parts of the city. As everything is based on photographs it feels very real and is, accompanied by a congenial sound design and unobtrusive music, an almost relaxing experience. This game uses the immersie potential of 360°-3D-views to evoke a very strong feeling of being there in the player.
This game is cool and I tried to play the sequel (https://store.steampowered.com/app/774141/MIAZMA_or_the_Devils_Stone/) but it was only in poorly dubbed English with no Hungarian audio w/ English subtitles option so I dropped it...
 

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