An intriguing noir-inspired murder mystery riddled with difficult puzzles make this a hard case to solve.
How far would you be willing to go to solve your own murder? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a question I had to keep asking myself to see if I was willing to push through some frustrating mechanics and puzzles in the noir-inspired Renoir to unravel the case. Though I enjoyed my time with Renoir, it is one of those games where patience truly is a virtue. And, at times, that is a virtue I did not possess.
Renoir is an interesting mash up of genres, which I’m still undecided whether it completely works. From a story perspective, Renoir runs in a similar vein to Murdered: Soul Suspect with police officer, James Renoir, investigating his own murder. It’s an interesting hook with a lot of potential and one that hasn’t been completely done to death (pun intended).
As you might expect, the story element of Renoir searching for his murderer is heavily emphasised so you’d be forgiven for thinking this would be a narrative heavy, adventure driven game. But instead Renoir plays out as a 2.5D platformer. It’s an odd pairing of genres, with the emphasis taken off the narrative and instead put on solving a bunch of increasingly complex platforming puzzles.
I love engaging my brain to solve noodle scratchers as much as the next bloke but, boy, did I encounter some frustration in Renoir. The premise behind the puzzles is that Renoir has the ability to control other phantoms around him, and use them to solve environmental puzzles (such as avoiding sources of light and directing phantoms to operate platforms). In doing this, Renoir recollects his last living memories to search for clues that lead back to his murderer.
The difficult of these puzzles ratchets up quickly and, unfortunately, I found myself turning to video guides quicker than I had hoped. Instead of being engaged by a potentially captivating murder mystery, I was instead trawling through Youtube looking for help. Perhaps this says more about my (lack of?) puzzle solving abilities, but I was disappointed that the emphasis shifted from the story to solving environmental puzzles. It didn’t help that the controls were not always the most responsive, when many of the puzzles required a fine degree of precision.
Nonetheless, let me say this though – the game looks visually stunning. I have a warm and fuzzy soft spot for noir-inspired games, and Renoir fits the part beautifully. Gorgeous black and white scenes are occasionally punctuated with a dash of bright colour, like something ripped straight out of a Hollywood noir movie or graphic novel. In fact, Renoir gives off a Sin City vibe. Or if you’ve played Blues and Bullets or The Detail, then you know what sort of game you’re in for. Renoir captures that moody, jazz-esuqe atmosphere particularly well and is an absolute pleasure just to sit and drink in scene after scene.
For more information, you may wish to read our review of Blues and Bullets: Episode One and The Detail (Episode One and Episode Two).
Renoir will not be a game for everyone. Underneath some frustrating mechanics lies a game with a fascinating story and some genuinely challenging (yet rewarding) puzzles. Unfortunately, the the complexity of the puzzles and mechanics may be enough to turn some people away, especially those who would prefer to focus on the narrative. And that's a shame too, because the gripping story should be the selling point of this game rather than a bunch of difficult environmental puzzles.
A charming and relaxing folktale adventure that empowers the player through a wonderful sense of discovery.
The opening scene of Burly Men at Sea is brilliant, setting the tone of the entire game. As the title screen popped up, I waited rather impatiently for the game to start. After around half-a-minute, I began to think that the game had frozen. A rather inauspicious start, I mused to myself. Frustrated, I swiped at the iPad screen. Surprisingly, the screen reacted to my touch, revealing something hidden on the right. Holding my finger down, the screen began to expand until the path forward was revealed. And so, my seafaring adventure had begun...
Pirate adventure Duke Grabowski sets sail on October 6 without the previously promised DRM-free version.
Venture Moon Studios has announced that its Monkey Island-inspired swashbuckling adventure Duke Grabowski will be hitting Steam on October 6. The news will undoubtedly be met with joy from fans, with the successful Kickstarter project initially to have been delivered a year earlier. For more information on this promising pirate adventure, you can read our Preview of Duke Grabowski which also made our recent Top 10 Upcoming Adventure Games.
However, there is one final kick in the pants for some Kickstarter backers. Due to restrictions imposed by publisher Alliance Game Studios, a DRM-free version of the game will no longer be offered. The developer is hoping to set something up later on GOG or Humble Bundle, but are unable to make any promises at this time.
This decision has kicked the proverbial hornets’ nest on the Duke Grabowski Kickstarter page. A number of backers have already demanded refunds, stating that they only backed the project on the premise that they would be receiving a DRM-free version. Fortunately, Venture Moon Studios is extending an olive branch to these backers promising that it will gladly refund any pledges. Nonetheless, this will undoubtedly leave a bitter aftertaste for those backers who have been patiently waiting several years for the game to be delivered. That being said, Venture Moon Studios is doing a better job of managing the fallout from this issue than Comcept has on the mismanaged Mighty Number 9 Kickstarter project.
Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler! will hit PC (Steam-only) on October 6.
Legendary Gamebook Designer Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Series on Sale For Mobile Devices
Indie developer inkle has carved out itself a special niche in the market for its superb range of gamebook adventure titles. While it’s difficult to pin down a personal favourite, the company is well known for its Sorcery! gamebook series from the genius mind of Steve Jackson.
Ahead of the release of the final title in the quadrilogy - Sorcery! 4 on 22 September - inkle has slashed the price of the first three games (Sorcery!, Sorcery! 2 and Sorcery! 3) to just US$0.99. If you’ve never experienced the magic of Sorcery! (pun well and truly intended,) this is the perfect time to pick them up on the cheap.
Sorcery! 4 concludes the story arc of the series with the fate of the land of Kakhabad still hanging in the balance. The game is said to include thousands of choices with over half a million words in dialogue. Players can expect to master up to 48 different spells and experience a unique touch-based sword dueling mechanic, with procedurally generated descriptions of the action.
If you're interested in more work by inkle, check out our 80 Days Review and an Interview With inkle on 80 Days.
The Afro-noir point-and-click adventure trilogy will be making its way to Xbox One and PS4
In great news for fans of point-and-click adventure games, SkyGoblin has announced that its afro-noir inspired title – The Journey Down – will be making its way to Xbox One and PS4. SkyGobin is currently busily working away on the third and final chapter in the trilogy, originally funded on Kickstarter, slated to come out in early-to-mid 2017 for PC, Mac and Linux. However, in a post for backers, SkyGoblin broke the news that it has tapped specialised porting studio Blitworks to also bring all three games in the trilogy to consoles. Blitworks has previously ported other indie darling titles including Fez and Spelunky. No release date has yet been given for consoles.
In other news, SkyGoblin noted that work on the The Journey Down: Chapter Three is progressing well. The casting is almost complete, several characters are now fully voiced and most of Bwana’s speech has been recorded and implemented. Having payed the first two games in the series, we can’t wait to get our hands on the third and final chapter, awarding it a place in our Top 10 Up Upcoming Adventure Games.
Grab It counts down its top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future.
The fast paced and ever changing nature of the gaming industry means it can be pretty easy to overlook quality titles on the horizon. Throw into the mix the sheer quantity of games released every year and a serious lack of time to even make a dent in your pile of shame, it's no wonder not all games get the attention they deserve.
Here at Grab It, we're quite fond of adventure titles. Enough so that we've put together a list of our top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future. Many of these titles may have flown under your radar, especially as they come from smaller indie developers. But that shouldn't scare you off because the quality of these games is shaping up to be on par with anything you might have played. Like all things in life, keep an open mind and you might just be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.
Without further ado, here are our top 10 adventure game "diamonds in the rough" to be on the look out for.
Land lubbers, rejoice! After reporting on upcoming folktale adventure Burly Men At Sea for nigh two years, this hugely promising indie darling is finally being released on September 29 for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. This is no simple feat either, with devs Brain&Brain running into numerous problems during development. We have incredibly high hopes for Burly Men, especially after the absolutely charming success of Brain&Brain's first outing Doggins (read our review).
To celebrate the announcement of the release date, the devs have released a new trailer which you can see below.
Finally, you can catch up on what Burly Men is all about by reading our previous coverage including an overview and interview with the developers.
With a release date just over the horizon, Burly Men At Sea is shaping up to be one of our most anticipated indie titles of 2016.
It's no secret that we're pretty big fans of indie dev Brain&Brain, heaping copious amounts of praise upon its previous adventure title, the lovable Doggins. If you've been following us for some time, you might also have noticed that we've been covering Brain&Brain's upcoming title, Burly Men At Sea, for over a year now (you can read our previous stories below).
The last time we pumped out a story, the news wasn't so good with the devs hitting a rather unpleasant financial snag. But that seems to be all in the past now, with work progressing well. In celebration, Brain&Brain have released a new trailer for Burly Men, which sets the scene for the intriguing folktale adventure we'll be setting out on. You can check it out below.
Burly Men At Sea will release in 2016 on PC and mobile platforms.
- Work On Folklore Adventure Burly Men At Sea Is Progressing But Hits Major Snag
- Interview: Doggins Creator Brain&Brain Talks Burly Men At Sea
- Folktale Adventure Burly Men At Sea Is Coming
The final entry in the Blackwell series saves the best for last, packing an emotional punch for long time fans.
This review is of the iOS version - which released on February 18, 2016 - but the game is also out on PC.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And so it must be with a fitting and touching conclusion to the Blackwell series. Over the course of five games, we've followed Rosa and Joey (quite literally) to hell and back. So to have their story finally wrapped up left me feeling conflicted in the best way possible.
Grab It caught up with veteran video game writer Richard Morgan to find out some world exclusive details on his upcoming digital gamebook, A Land Fit for Heroes
Yesterday we posted Part 1 of our interview with Richard Morgan on the upcoming digital gamebook adaptation of his widely esteemed dark fantasy series A Land Fit for Heroes. Today, in Part 2 of our interview, we have even more juicy details including some world exclusive information on how the trailer blazing multiplayer component will work. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Grab It caught up with veteran video game writer Richard Morgan to find out some world exclusive details on his upcoming digital gamebook, A Land Fit for Heroes
It was only a few weeks ago that we lifted the lid on one of the most exciting upcoming digital gamebook projects, A Land Fit for Heroes, from veteran video game writer Richard Morgan. You can read our preview of the game right here. Morgan has penned a number of well known video game narratives including Crysis 2 and Syndicate. But more than that Morgan is held in very high esteem for his dark fantasy trilogy A Land Fit for Heroes, which is getting the digital gamebook treatment.
In hot anticipation of the first entry in the series releasing soon, we managed to catch up with Richard to chew the fat about what both long time fans and newcomers can expect to encounter. Enjoy.
Veteran video game writer Richard Morgan's dark fantasy trilogy A Land Fit for Heroes on its way to PC and Mobile
If you’ve played Crysis or Syndicate, then you’ve had a taste of the superb work of author Richard Morgan. Likewise, if you’re a fantasy fan then you may have read Morgan’s dark fantasy trilogy “A Land Fit For Heroes,” comprising The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands and The Dark Defiles. In rather exciting news, Morgan (in conjunction with indie developer Liber Primus Games) will be bringing his trilogy to PC and mobile in the form of a digital gamebook. And rather soon, in fact.
For those who may not be familiar Morgan's work, here is the background to the series (from Goodreads):
“A dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose cynicism is surpassed only by the speed of his sword. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but when his mother enlists his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one young woman. Grim sorceries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of the Aldrain, a race of widely feared, cruel yet beautiful demons. Now Gil and two old comrades are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.”
An old school point-and-clicker that hides its significant charm behind a scary clown face.
Let’s get this out of the way; Dropsy freaks the hell out of me. For the life of me, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being slowly tortured by a retro-inspired nightmare. The colour palate alone evokes the same effect as someone dragging their fingernails down a chalkboard. Indeed, the game made me realise I probably have a touch of coulrophobia. But putting my insecurities aside, Dropsy is one very good game that adventure fans should play. Just don’t send me your psychologist bill.
What is it about clowns that evoke such a sense of unease? Psychologist Sigmund Freud might say that clowns embody the notion of the “uncanny,” that feeling of when you look at something or someone and it’s not quite right. The thing in question is often recognisable, but just different enough to be disconcerting. By all accounts, this is the pretext underlying Dropsy - a slightly rotund clown with a garish yellow-toothed smile, ghostly pale make-up, and an eclectic outfit that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1980s. Based on appearances only, this is not the sort of clown you’d invite to perform at children’s parties. Or associate with. Ever.
Does the fourth game in this retro-inspired point-and-click adventure series live up to expectations? Or is it as hollow as a family spiritual guide?
This review is of the iOS version - which released on September 24, 2015 - but the game is also out on PC.
The Blackwell series has grown on me immensely. For a loyal fan of point-and-click adventures, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the series until earlier this year when Wadjet Eye Games ported the first three games (Legacy, Unbound, Convergence) to mobile. (You can read our review of the Blackwell Trilogy here.) For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Blackwell games, so I’m thrilled that Deception has also made its way to mobile.
The Blackwell games have a special place in my heart if only because Wadjet Eye Games has tapped into a pleasantly nostalgic vibe that wouldn’t feel out of place in a nineties adventure game. But perhaps even more poignant is the sharp writing that quickly cuts through a superficial layer of cliché.
For newcomers to the series, the Blackwell games follow the adventures of spiritual medium Rosa Blackwell and the family spirit guide Joey Mallone. Rosa and Joey work together to guide other spirits “into the light.” So there’s the cliché part, but I found the temptation to roll my eyes at such a trite concept dispelled by the gradual unfolding of the sad stories of these spirits. It’s pretty powerful stuff to watch grieving characters who have been murdered struggle to come to terms with their death and lament those things never achieved in life. It may hit too close to home for some people.
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