Blackwell, Resonance, the white chamber – Point and click adventures – part 1.

Gare – Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:43 PM
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Although the golden age of Monkey Island, Beneath a Steel Sky, Gabriel Knight and their ilk is long gone, and often do we hear cries of adventure games being dead and forgotten, it is not yet time to panic. Point and click adventures may not be in the mainstream spotlight, but they are most definitely not completely buried, either – they thrive within the halls of smaller studios, indie projects and Kickstarter campaigns. In this humble collection, we will take a brief look at some of the more interesting indie point and click adventures of modern times, and also risk a short glimpse at what the future might hold.

The Blackwell series

With The Blackwell Legacy, Wadjet Eye Games began what would later turn into a indie hit series, spawning three more titles and a fourth one currently in development. The series stars introvert Rosangela Blackwell as she one day, out of nowhere, collapses from an unexplainable headache, only to be greeted by the spirit of the deceased Joey Mallone, who urges her on a strange mission: to roam the city in search of lost souls of the dead and help them pass on. And so the adventure begins, following Rosa as she heeds Joey's instructions and seeks out spirits of the recently deceased who still roam the land of mortals without fully being aware of their own condition as dead people. There's a bit of humor and a bit of the Sixth Sense in there, paired with classic point and click gameplay and problem solving – as the series progresses, Joey become a fully playable character as well, adding an interesting twist to the puzzle mechanics.

Although each episode consists of Rosa encountering a number of spirits and trying to solve their problems in order to get rid of their lingering regrets, thus helping them move on to the next world, Blackwell also presents players with a rich backstory in the form of Rosa's aunt, who, much like Rosa, worked to help spirits, but ended up dying alone and mentally unstable. Another ongoing, overarching mystery throughout the various episodes is Joey's identity and past – who was he, how did he die and more importantly, why and how is he chained to members of the Blackwell family? The Blackwell series delivers a series of satisfying puzzles, engaging personal stories and a memorable main duo in the form of the always-bickering Rosa and Joey that fans of adventure should most definitely give at least a shot.

Gameplay time: ~3-4 hours per game
The series: The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Convergence, Blackwell Deception
(demo + purchase)

Resonance

Vince Twelve's indie thriller came forward with something that is only rarely seen in an adventure game: giving control of four distinct main characters at the same time. Anna, a doctor, Bennet, a cop, Ed, a scientist and Ray, a political blogger all come together in order to investigate the mysterious passing of a certain Dr. Morales, who was, according to the man himself, was seemingly on the verge of a life-changing discovery. Players will come to unearth shocking mysteries and a conspiracy grander than any of them could have imagined while controlling four unlikely heroes in a decently long adventure.

Resonance's gameplay is therefore built heavily upon the idea of teamwork, forcing players to consider the qualities of each of their characters in order to overcome various obstacles; the feature itself, however, comes as a double-edged sword: it could either fascinate or frustrate. For one, all four characters possess a separate inventory system of their own, which leaves it the player's job to decide who should use which item in a given situation. In addition, conversations in-game are built upon a unique memory system, in which players have access to a variety of things seen and heard throughout the game. It is then up to us to add the relevant bits of information to a given character's short term memory, after which said character can inquire about it during a conversation. Admittedly, the system might feel overly complicated for its own sake, but thankfully, never becomes a major hindrance to enjoying the tale. If one thing needs to be said about Resonance's story, it's that it starts off with a promising mystery and culminates in a completely jaw-dropping, out-of-nowhere twist that may be, in fact, far more memorable than the actual ending itself. Although the plot itself did not leave an immensely strong impression on me, its major twist is quite fascinating, spiraling Resonance onto its highly dramatic finale and leaving me -albeit not blown away- moderately satisfied by the end.

Gameplay time: ~6-8 hours
Web page

the white chamber

Studio Trophis' gory horror adventure could very well be introduced with Alien's well known tag line – “in space, no one can hear you scream.”. The white chamber ominously opens with a young woman waking up, to her shock and horror, inside a coffin of sorts, only to find out that she is stranded on a spaceship with the entire crew seemingly having met terrible fates. She has no choice but to explore the gloomy corridors of her new prison in order to piece together the mystery surrounding the crew's downfall, and what went on in the main laboratory, referred to only as “the white chamber”. Although the atmosphere is going to appeal to fans of movies such as Event Horizon, the puzzles themselves could potentially disappoint veteran fans of adventure. In addition, once the plot is revealed in its fullest, it might surprise, but will probably not linger on in one's mind as a narrative masterpiece. Nor is it especially long, either, taking most players roughly 2 hours to complete. All in all, even though the white chamber it is not necessarily the absolute height of its genre, it is an above average title, and most definitely good enough to warrant at least one playthrough in order to unravel its mysteries.

Gameplay time: ~2 hours
Web page
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