Digital: A Love Story is an extraordinarily charming game -- a sort of text adventure in which you use your new pre-VGA computer to dial up all sorts of interesting BBSes, just like we did in the Old Days. There, you make virtual friends, uncover a mystery, and have the opportunity to fall in love.
I'm a little hesitant about recommending YouDunnit because it's damned confusing and hard to play -- but the idea behind it is very cool, and, well, 48-hour games are rarely going to be perfect.
The basic setup is this: You murdered someone, in locked-room detective story-like fashion, and the detective has shown up to investigate. He's asking everyone their stories. If you catches you out in an inconsistency -- or if you somehow permit everyone else to establish a clear alibi -- you're screwed.
Sweet Agatha is an ambitious product in many ways. It's a two-player, limited scope, narrativist RPG; it's a literarily ambitious attempt to marry themes of love and loss to an interactive product; it's a beautifully designed (from a graphic perspective) product that gets destroyed in play.
Submitted by EmilyShort on Sun, 04/26/2009 - 20:23.
Make It Good is a dark detective mystery from Jon Ingold: there's been a murder, and everyone who was in the house at the time is a suspect. The protagonist is a cop whose drinking career has all but eclipsed his career on the force. His sidekick doesn't bother to conceal his contempt at having to serve such a useless master.
On this description, Make It Good looks like a classic style of interactive fiction, in the tradition of Infocom's Deadline and Witness. Those early commercial mysteries involved some of Infocom's most innovative character work: the non-player characters in Deadline give a strong impression of independent purpose as they move about on their own schedules.
I love the visual look of Dirty Split, which looks as if designed by Shag (and as if the title screens were by Saul Bass). The game itself is a conventional point-and-click graphic adventure (built using the Wintermute engine); the protagonist is a Joe Friday sound-alike private eye, hired by an heiress whose son has been accused of murder.
East Side Story is a point-and-click mystery in the Tex Murphy mold (at least until that series got moldy), developed by Mikael and Eleen Nyqvist, a Swedish husband-and-wife team -- their fourth game, in fact, featuring the English sleuth Carol Reed. It's first person, meaning that, like Myst, you never see your protagonist onscreen; and like Myst, screens are static images, with hotpoints you can mouse over, and the ability to turn to either side and move forward or back.
The images, however, are not rendered 3D, but photography -- nicely captured photographs of the town of Norrköping, in Sweden. This has its good side and its bad; the photographs are technically excellent, and many of them very attractive, providing visual quality that would be hard (and expensive) to create with digital assets.
It starts with the dinner; several people are sitting around the table, represented as multicolored shapes -- squares, diamonds, circles. You tab through the up and down keys, cycling through them, learning their names, getting aquainted. Then you play with the left and right keys, moving through time. Two people leave, then another, then the dining room is empty, and the narrative unfolds. Daisy discovers the body in the study.
Submitted by EmilyShort on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 00:52.
The Act of Misdirection is a short horror story. There are some interactions that might be called puzzles, but they don't feel like it -- at least, not in the conventional sense. Instead, the interaction feels like an improv routine, in which the game hints gently (and then more explicitly) at the player's role, and the player performs on cue.
Submitted by EmilyShort on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 18:58.
An Act of Murder is a classic country-house mystery: an isolated estate, a small group of suspects, a limited amount of time to solve the crime.
The country-house mystery premise has been done numerous times in interactive fiction: consider Infocom's Deadline, or Sierra's Mystery House. Even in the best of these, though, the game-play almost always fails to capture what's essential about detective fiction. Even at their best, mystery IF games usually test the player's thoroughness (have you looked under every bed? analyzed every object?) and patience in replaying (have you tried spying on all the characters at all the available times of day?), rather than his logical thinking and deductive abilities.
An Act of Murder stands out because it does ask the player to focus on drawing conclusions: what do you know? What do you need to find out next? What do these alibis mean? There are a few objects to discover, a few pieces of evidence that have to be searched for, but for the most part, Act of Murder is about the conclusions you draw, and how you figure out where to look next.
Grow is a long-running game series, with the original game launched in 2002, if I understand correctly, and comprising at least six different games (Grow v.1, v.2, and v.3, Grow Cube, Grow RPG, and Grow Tower) united by a single gameplay mechanic. One might even say that all six are reskinned versions of the same game. Gameplay-wise, things couldn't be simpler: you are given a central play area (typically a planet) and set of up to 12 buttons (the exact number depends on the game), and your task is to press them (or rather drag them onto the gameplay area) in the correct order.
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