Articles tagged with point and click

The Inner World

Apr 03
Posted by Mark at 15:23

Ahead of the imminent sequel- subtitled The Last Wind Monk- Headup Games have brought Studio Fizbin's The Inner World to console.

There has been a disaster in Asposia, a physics-defying world existing on the inside of a sphere, as the Wind Fountains, Asposia's sole form of ventilation, have stopped blowing, and creatures known as the Basylians have emerged from them, turning the Asposians to stone.

The remaining Asposians have all looked to Conroy- the Wind Monk in charge of one of the fountains- for guidance, which happens to be puritanical and austere. When his endearingly naive apprentice Robert manages to lose the pendant which reminds Conroy of what he cryptically claims is the happiest day of his life, he goes looking for it- meeting local criminal Laura, who helps him discover that Conroy's rule is not as benevolent as it seems.

Taking control of both Robert and Laura at different points in the story, their hand-drawn adventure sees them collecting arbitrary items and hoping that they'll be useful later, in that way that point-and-click adventures are. As they go along, they visit a range of exotic locations and meet plenty of interesting individuals.

The writing that drives the characters carries all the water it needs to, although many of them fall into the trap of being character traits waiting to be fleshed out and on occasion lines will often jar with one another- a character would say something, then immediately say something else that implies they didn't know the thing they said last. There are, however, smiles to be raised if few or no laughs.

The point-and-click game contains its entire control system in its name- you point at a thing and you click it. Historically, this was achieved with a mouse- something that isn't present on PlayStation 4. Instead, you control your character directly with the left thumbstick, cycle through hotspots with L1 and R1 until you find the one that you want, then a menu gives you the options you have for interacting.

There is an easy criticism of the genre in that eventually it boils down to systematically applying every item in your inventory to every part of the scenery or every character until the game relents and lets you progress, and The Inner World's control system serves only to formalise this process, and as such it's all too easy to allow autopilot to set in.

Revealing all the hotspots in a scene may be a necessary evil, maybe as a last resort for a player who just can't work out the solution to the puzzle, but this system takes away not only the immediacy of interacting by forcing you to cycle through all the options you don't want to get to the one you do, but also the joy of working out solutions- or finding interesting 'wrong' answers yourself- by having to go through a better answer before you get to the one you wanted.

It also makes the direct character control almost entirely redundant- some hotspots only make themselves known if you're near them, but this is implemented inconsistently and the cycle will rarely start anywhere near the hotspot you want.

Worse, the touch panel on the DualShock 4, which you'd think would be perfect for this sort of game, isn't used at all.

The Inner World is pleasing enough in that way that modern point-and-clicks can be, but the console port can be very easily skipped in favour of the PC version.

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Posted by Mark at 12:22
If the last few years have been about the resurgence of the PC as a platform owing to the rise of digital distribution and indie developers, it seems we're moving into an age of developers coming back to console.

Not only are all the platform holders falling over themselves to show how indie-friendly the are and list all the indie games coming to their consoles, Daedalic Entertainment have announced that they're bringing Deponia to PlayStation 3 and iOS.

Talking to Digital Spy at GDC, the publisher said "Deponia is our biggest adventure game franchise so far, this is why we think it's the most attractive game, from the story and the setting, it's what works best on other platforms as well."

Having partnered with an external devloper to port the game to the platform, they now feel they have the technological base to bring other titles to PS3 as well, including threequel Goodbye Deponia, which I gave a solid seven out of ten to last November.
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Posted by Mark at 18:13

While Telltale goes off in its direction with the adventure genre, and David Cage goes off on his, it's interesting to see a title which sticks to the slightly more traditional format of 'pointing' and 'clicking'.

Goodbye Deponia is the third title in Daedalic Entertainment's Deponia series- one which sees the conclusion of protagonist Rufus's attempts to escape Deponia, a rubbish-covered planet cued up for destruction with love interest Goal, formerly of Deponia's upper classes.

As mentioned, pointing and clicking is the order of the day, usually combining all sorts of arbitrary items with other kinds of arbitrary items in order to find the solution for arbitrary puzzles.

The occupational hazard of this genre is that if a puzzle turns out to be less logical, then the game soon devolves into an exercise in systematically trying everything, and there is more than one time this happens to Goodbye Deponia.

Thankfully, there are a number of minigames which break up the standard point and click gameplay. None deviate greatly from this template, generally being self-contained puzzles, which at least reduces the number of completely illogical choices which have to be cycled through before progressing- although one puzzle involving characters entering and exiting different doors like that scene in Scooby Doo, despite being reasonably amusing until the reference has passed, eventually frustrates as everyone's just going around in circles.

Of course, it's not strictly the gameplay that matters in this genre as much as its story- or more accurately, the jokes.

For the most part, Goodbye Deponia tells its story well enough, coming to a surprising ending. At no point does it feel like a simple vehicle for its jokes despite a few instances of characters taking leave of their senses in order to make a gag or puzzle work.

Equally for the most part, while never offering any hugely laugh-out-loud moments, Goodbye Deponia's humour doesn't leave you feeling like it's trying too hard to be funny and falling flat- if it leans a little too much on going "Look! Look! We're self aware and post modern!" sending up adventure game clichés in its dialogue, but revelling in them in its gameplay.

It's difficult to come down on Goodbye Deponia too hard- it's good at what it does, if what it does is a little bit unexciting.
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Posted by Chris McKone at 21:15
ow I'm a bit of a TV detective addict, with Poirot being one of my particular favourites. So when I was charged with reviewing 'Agatha Christie's Murder On The Orient Express' I dug out my plastic 'tache, leather gloves, hat, suit and cane and so prepared for some Poirot-style sleuthing.

After the installation I realised that I was not going to be playing as Belgium's most famous fictional export but as a posh French woman (with an English accent) wearing a dress. So a quick change of clothes and doing my best Queen Liz II impression I proceeded to play.

The game is based upon the book of the same name which funnily enough features a murder on the Orient Express (that's a train don't you know?) It follows the original story closely but expands on other parts in order to flesh the game out and provide more puzzles and environments for the player to get their brains around.

A new character named Antoinette Marceau is charged with ensuring Poirot's well-being while he travels on the train. Shame she couldn't do the same for the poor sod who was murdered. Speaking of Poirot's well-being; he spends the majority of the game tucked up in bed (in his full suit, which is bizarre to be honest) and sends your character off to do all the leg work.

The game is a point and click affair, menus are opened through the use of the right mouse button. This opens up a menu in which the inventory, scrapbook and also the item combination menu can be accessed through the use of different tabs.

The item combination menu is an oddity. It can be used for combining up to four items at a time, but often it will force you to do things in too specific a manner when it is clear to you what is needed a few steps ahead which grows tedious. The menu can also be used for breaking items down which is something that was not clear at all for a long time.

I do not understand what was wrong with sticking with the tried and true method of drag and drop in the inventory screen. This method is long-winded and irritating as it seems to make a staple of the adventure game genre into a chore.

Speaking of chores, the game relies very, very heavily on going back and forth through the same rooms. Obviously this is because the bulk of the game takes place on a train with only a few token extra sections thrown in to try and break the tedium. It gets very old very quickly.

The graphics of the game are dated. The character models look a similar quality to the excellent game Mafia, unfortunately that game is about five years old (and far better than this one). The cut-scenes do feature some nice facial animations but it still all looks old and bland. The environments are all pre-renders which in all these games, seem to have stayed at the same quality since the original Myst, and these days I expect real time environments that provide more convincing interactivity.

The sound is nothing exemplary, but it isn't all that bad either. The voice acting is competent for the most part. This was a relief to me as I have endured many abysmal examples of voice acting such as The Watchmaker...I played it for 5 minutes and had to uninstall it to save my soul. However Antoinette's voice does grate a bit at times as she has a very proper 'English' accent, the kind you never actually hear in real life.

Poirot's voice was done by a guy who I believe was locked in a room with a DVD player and a TV and a complete set of Poirot starring David Suchet, and is the best voice by far in the game. The character model is the spitting image too (I wonder if they got likeness rights?)

All in all this is a game that will satisfy a die-hard adventure fan if they are desperate for a quick fix until the next episode of Sam & Max comes out. It has some nice touches but it never achieves anything particularly interesting. As a mid-price PC release it is alright but there have been many better examples of adventure games and this one does nothing to change people's minds that it is a dying genre. It just doesn't hold your attention and there is far too much back-tracking due to the main environment of the train. Roll on Sam & Max Episode 5.

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Posted by Ben at 19:55
fter much lobbying from fans of the genre, the humble point and click has made a welcome return in recent months, not least on the Nintendo DS. The Phoenix Wright games and Touch Detective have shown the touch screen is a good substitute for a mouse, but is a hotel setting going to keep people gripped?

You play as Kyle Hyde, a former detective now working as a travelling salesman, on the hunt for his missing partner. You are sent to Hotel Dusk to pick up some items for a customer, where, soon after checking in you bump into an old acquaintance from your days as a New York cop. As the game introduces you to each guest, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re all connected in some way, and that it’s down to you to unravel all the mysteries.

The game is played out using both screens. The DS is held like a book, with the touch screen used for interacting. During exploration the touch screen gives you a top-down map view to guide your character around, while the top screen shows a 3D view of where you’re headed. When in conversation the screens give both sides of the conversation, showing who you’re talking to and Kyle’s thoughts on what they’re saying.

The puzzles come in the traditional form of checking items against objects, as well as interrogation, and a few stylus based brainteasers. For the most part these puzzles are pitched to perfection; not so easy that you don’t get any sense of accomplishment for solving them, but not so hard the game will grind to a halt. There are, however, a handful of occasions where the urge to consult a guide, just to keep the game moving, will become too much, thankfully these moments are few and far between.

Graphics were never going to be what Hotel Dusk was about, and it’s probably for the best. The 3D is grainy, but does work well enough to show you what’s around, while the 2D is fairly static, with only a few frames of animation. The watercolour style does fit well however, and the shimmying of the colour gives the impression of perpetual movement. Music is merely functional, letting you know what portion of the game you are on at any one time.

For a game like Hotel Dusk, enjoyment is usually entirely dependent on the plot. The touch screen puzzles do add a welcome element to the game, but they’re not really common enough to ensnare players who aren’t hooked on the plot. If anything their inclusion is blighted by their sparseness. The plot never becomes the gritty tale it threatens to, and on occasion it feels like you’re just ticking off the characters as you progress through the game.

Despite this, the exhilaration you feel when a piece of the puzzle clicks, or the rush as an interrogation is as effortless as falling down a tunnel, can match anything the other genres can produce. The plot is paced to perfection, just as you think you’ve got everything sown up a new twist will re-ignite your gum-shoe intrigue.

Once it’s complete there’s very little to go back to, but it’s a captivating tale while it lasts, and one that is very hard to put down.

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