I think few franchises have ever captured the imagination of the public like the famous Jurassic Park trilogy by Steven Spielberg. Books, toys, even theme parks – the world has seen it all. And even a couple of video-games, though they weren’t really worth mentioning. Until now that is! Telltale has struck again, taking an age-old intellectual property and twisting it in new and interesting ways. As a serialized interactive movie adventure none-the-less.
One of the staples of my game playing diet growing up was the adventure game, whether it entailed a text only affair like Zork or a sprawling 16 color extravaganza such as King’s Quest. Sadly, it seems as technology has gotten better the gamers’ taste for epic narratives and thoughtful puzzle solving has diminished, or so the folks in charge would have you believe. Thankfully the mobile renaissance has rekindled the spark for puzzle games, and amazingly enough it seems even for the full fledged adventure game. One of my favorite original IPs in this genre where iOS devices are concerned has always been The Secret of Grisly Manor, and after playing through its spiritual sequel – The Lost City – I can’t wait to see what this developer offers up next.
In the beginning it seemed like most of the adventure games popping up on the App Store were ports, but now we’re seeing more and more original IP make its way to the iOS platform. About To Blow Up Part 1 is one such game, and it’s clear the developers have a heart for the genre they’ve embraced. The game is quirky, interesting and above all fun. Unfortunately, it’s also a tad on the short side. Thankfully it leaves you wanting more in a good way.
These days it seems like when you visit a web site dedicated to “adventure” games they’re talking about the latest hidden object game from Big Fish or the newest FPS from whomever. When I was growing up, however, adventure games were a lot more special. They were about stories and talking to interesting characters. There were interesting settings, and several sometimes mind boggling puzzles. It’s clear that the developers of Yesterday grew up in that same era, or at least have done their research. I also thank BulkyPix for helping bring this tale to my iPad screen.
Many gamers, myself included, might liken The Act to a modern day Laser Disc epic, and at first glance that seems to be a fair assessment. For better and for worse that is not really the case, however. Aside from the visual aspect it doesn’t play like any laser disc game I’ve ever tried, and it is far from epic. The kicker is that it was actually a great experience. Unfortunately, I was a bit more than surprised when it was suddenly over. Not that I didn’t see it coming, but I just couldn’t believe how soon it came.
There’s an old adage that says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Apparently the developers of Letters From Nowhere took that to heart, because the sequel feels identical mechanically to the first game. Thankfully that’s not a bad thing at all, as I have become just as engrossed in this one as I was with its predecessor. Since this is a sequel I will just highlight the finer points, but I suggest checking out my review of the original Letters From Nowhere, because everything pretty much still applies.
In January of last year a unique new puzzle game called Cardboard Castle hit the App Store. If I were to quickly summarize Valentin – The Valiant Viking I’d say it was a “spiritual successor” to Cardboard Castle, even though it’s not by the same developers. The game has a similar knack for silly solutions to thoughtful puzzles and the visuals were clearly inspired. Still, Valentin does an excellent job of standing on its own two feet, and it throws a wrinkle or two into the mix to make sure it is a completely different game.
Jules Verne is arguably one of the most prophetic tech visionaries of all time, second only to Leonardo DaVinci. His 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea predicted modern era submarines in amazing detail. From the Earth to the Moon, of course, looks a bit more naive these days describing the journey to the moon using a giant canon. On the other hand, modern-era rockets might be considered the same in spirit, if not in principal. Tetraedge and Microids however, decided to stay true to Verne’s classic vision in their superb Jules Verne’s Journey to the center of the moon – Part 1/Part 2/Part 3.
Haunted Houdini is the first title in the Midnight Mysteries series that I’ve had the chance to play, but it certainly won’t be the last. While in general hidden object games are becoming more like “true” adventure games every day, Haunted Houdini takes storytelling within a hidden object game to a new level. Combine that with many diverse locations to explore and a fine balance between hidden object scenes, object based puzzles and mini-games, this has become one of the most enjoyable from this genre that I’ve played in quite some time.
Letters from Nowhere HD has a different story, different mini-games and different scenes to explore, but in the end it’s still your traditional hidden object game. Thankfully that suits me just fine, and even though it doesn’t stray to far from the formula it manages to suck you in anyway. The story gives you just enough to make you want to know more, and there are enough gimmicks that the hidden object scenes feel fresh even though you’ve played them a million times before. Even the mini-games are passable, both figuratively and literally. Letters From Nowhere doesn’t break any new ground, but it does what it does really well.