Thursday, April 17, 2014

Moebius: Empire Rising - First Impressions

If only they did a better job with the animations...

Moebius: Empire Rising is the second Kickstarter by a Sierra alumni that has successfully delivered a final product (the other is Al Lowe's Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded). Jane Jensen, famous for being the writer of the Gabriel Knight series, has given us another mystery game for us to play with where you take on the role of an antiques dealer called Malachi Rector. Apparently, he's not just any antiques dealer as he's apparently got photographic memory, a keen eye for profiling and is a bit of a genius when it comes to history. In some ways, he reminds me a lot of Robert Downey Jr's interpretation of Sherlock Holmes.

So here's my experience with respect to the first two hours of Moebius: Empire Rising

What I like

  • Plot: It comes as no surprise that the game has a rather strong plot so far with Jane Jensen at the helm. It's very similar in style to other mystery games by her such as Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter
  • Gameplay: It's your typical point 'n' click adventure and seems to be made for PC - thankfully not a console or mobile port like so many games are nowadays.
  • Music: Music is top notch just as it was in Gabriel Knight and Gray Matter, thanks to Jane Jensen's husband, Robert Holmes. The intro/credits theme is a true delight, sung by Jane and Robert's daughter, Raleigh Holmes.

What I don't like

  • Graphics: The only thing really letting the game down at the moment are the graphics. Yes, I know that graphics don't maketh the game, but you usually have to at least have passable graphics in a point 'n' click adventure game. Malachi always seems hunched and has a really wonky walking animation while the clothing textures for all the characters are of a low quality. Also, while I don't mind the mix of 3D objects against painted backdrops occasionally they seem to forget adding high-resolution backgrounds as some are very pixellated.

Verdict


So far I'm enjoying the plot and if it continues on this course, the game's most important aspect will at least be safe. The graphics are really off-putting though and it's a shame that they didn't do a better job with it - even Gray Matter, which was released a few years ago has better walking animations and 3D models.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Choicest VGM - VGM #124 - Lemmings - Lemming3





Composed by: Brian Johnston
Arranged for DOS version by: Tony Williams

Here's the final Brian Johnston track from the game Lemmings to enter the Choicest VGM list (the remaining ones are done by Tim Wright). Unlike the image of an army of Digger Lemmings I had with the previous track, I think this track is a perfect accompaniment for a Builder Lemming, building an enormous staircase into oblivion - since sometimes that's what you end up doing when you realise that you don't have quite enough bricks to make it to that elevated platform...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Wolf Among Us - Episode 3 : The Crooked Mile Review

You get to choose two out of three locations to visit in this episode. I've already made the first choice, this is for the second.

  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Publisher: Telltale Games
  • Release Date: 8 April 2014
  • Time Played: 1.5 hours

It seems Telltale are now back on track with their 1-2 month gap between episodes as the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us, "A Crooked Mile", is now available to play. So how does this episode compare with previous ones?

Note that the review will read very similar to previous The Wolf Among Us reviews as not really much has changed besides the plot.

Plot (5/5)
The Wolf Among Us is set during the 1980s in New York City. Fairy tale characters (aka "Fables") now live amongst normal humans (called "mundanes") in their own immigrant neighbourhood known as "Fabletown". Some fairy tale characters, who can afford it, use "glamour" in order to disguise their true appearance from mundanes. Those that cannot afford to disguise themselves are sent to "The Farm" in rural New York. You play Bigsby Wolf aka The Big Bad Wolf, whose job is sheriff of Fabletown. Consequently it's your job to keep the peace and in this third episode, you finally make some leeway on who you and Snow White believes to be a murderer. Things aren't always what they seem though, and you soon discover there's a bigger conspiracy lurking in the background.

Just as it was with the previous episodes, there appears to be a branching narrative in this game so conversations will be slightly different based on your relationships with other characters or certain clues you notice. At the end of an episode, you're also able to review whether you sit with the majority or not when it comes to pivotal choices in the game (e.g. showing compassion to a character or not).

Like the second episode, this episode was quite short compared to the first one (only about 1.5 hours long) however the plot seems more intriguing. There's definitely a lot more anger, angst and action too - the atmosphere is volatile and people are starting to get more desperate.

Gameplay (3/5)
Just like The Walking Dead, and indeed previous The Wolf Among Us episodes, gameplay may seem minimal by some since it basically consists of very simple puzzles ala the adventure game genre incorporated with visual novel elements (e.g. conversations having an impact on character relationships) thrown in with a bit of Quick Time Events (QTEs) for action sequences. For those valuing gameplay over plot, you have been warned!

What I do like about this episode though is that at one point you're given a choice of which place out of three to investigate first - with only time to investigate two. This gives the player a little bit more freedom in tailoring their own story which is always welcome.

"Gren won't remember this." Some self-referential humour by Telltale there

Sound (4/5)
Voice acting is great but that's to be expected from veteran voice actors – the only issue I had was that the audio was sometimes too loud or too soft.

Music (4/5)
The game has some moody 80s-style synth which fits the game perfectly (this is a neo-noir game set in the 80s after all). Nothing too memorable but top quality stuff all the same.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics are on par with The Walking Dead and since this game is also based on a comic book, it has incorporated a similar style. The only issues I had was the occasional framerate jumps and the occasional animation glitch.

Replay (3/5)
Just as it was in The Walking Dead, replaying The Wolf Among Us will reveal a slightly different narrative depending on the choices you make. Just as I did with the previous episodes, I tried to continue my stoic and professional approach, i.e. refraining from violence where I could (admittedly it was more difficult to this time around).

Unlike The Walking Dead, it's slightly more difficult to get all achievements, requiring you to explore different choices I believe in order to unlock all of them (which in turn invites at least one replay).

Polish (4/5)
Unfortunately, as it's a Telltale game, it uses the most recent Telltale Tool so the interface is a very console-friendly one, not a simple point 'n' click adventure. The game also has the annoying Type 1 save system where progress is autosaved but you never know when the next save point is.

Score – 8/10

Like Episode Two, Episode Three or "The Crooked Mile" seems to be a bit shorter than the first episode, however the anger, angst, atmosphere and action in this episode will keep you on the edge of your seat as you delve even deeper into Fabletown's dark secrets.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam or Telltale Games.

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