It’s the summer, and that means things are slow for gamers. But, thanks to the slow times, and console manufacturers coming to PC indies with bundles of cash, we’ve got plenty of adventure games to enjoy in the air conditioning. Here are three we’ve recently gotten a crack at.
This game begins with ARID, a battlesuit AI, taking command of said suit when her occupant is injured. ARID’s primary goal is to find some medical facilities… but she’s trapped in a robot “repurposing” facility, with only other AIs for company, and that may be a harder job than she thinks.
The Fall‘s selling point is its clever, Asimov-meets-Gibson writing. AIs have strict parameters, and the game’s writing is all about those AIs working around them. It’s not quite as successful making that a feature of the gameplay, however: Whenever ARID works around her parameters, it’s due to some arbitrary outside action, not something you do as a player.
The gameplay itself is very much old-school adventure gaming, both in mechanics and style: You look around, find the item, read the note, and solve the puzzle. And, frustratingly, miss a detail and you might get stuck for a while. It’s occasionally broken up by fight sequences, which are fun but a bit slight. Still, the unsettling tone, combined with the plot, makes for a fun thriller.
When her father disappears in an old, ghost-infested mansion, it’s up to Elena, a teenage girl with the ability to astrally project herself, to find out why and save him. And that will involve some backtracking. Actually, a lot of backtracking.
Whispering Willows is a pretty solid side-scrolling adventure game, with notes of survival horror; Elena often can’t fight back and instead needs to run away from or otherwise avoid danger. But while the choice to draw the game in line art gives it a unique look, to be honest, the art in the cutscenes is fairly mediocre. Similarly, the game’s writing traffics in stereotypes and obvious plot twists; the first ghost you meet is a Native American shaman and it just goes downhill from there.
Truthfully, the game’s puzzles aren’t hugely complicated, but they’re fun to crack and designed to keep the game moving. If you want a quick puzzle game with some horror, this will be a decent pick.
Pneuma: Breath of Life
This game actually has a pretty great puzzle mechanic; how you look at things dictates how they move and change, and that goes against a lot of impulses as a gamer; often you have to consciously not look at things, back into rooms, and otherwise go against the grain to progress.
Unfortunately, the team behind this game played The Stanley Parable and decided they could rip it off with nobody being the wiser. The enthusiastic British narrator never, ever shuts up, and he never, ever has anything genuinely interesting to say. It’s like being trapped in a room with a freshman who’s taking Basics of Philosophy. It all culminates in an ending that’s tiresome in both its verbal and visual pretensions. If you can tune that out, it’s worth a play for the fun, inventive mechanics.
So, those are three adventure games worth playing. Hey, if nothing else, you’re in air conditioning.