Mini-Reviews: The Journey Down, Broken Age, Pearl’s Peril, The Room 3

The Journey Down: logoMy second batch of digital game reviews, covering the last three months.  Being afflicted with poor hand-eye coordination, I play mostly puzzle games with a plot.

The Journey Down — Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (Skygoblin): A classic point-and-click with an Afro-Caribbean look and sound, offering challenges that require ingenuity without becoming exercises in pixel-hunting. I really enjoy this series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the third chapter. You can accomplish the tasks in any order and as far as I can tell, you can’t mess it up enough to have to restart.  The first two chapters are available on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux as well as on iOS.  I played it on Steam for Linux with Ubuntu 14.04 and have no technical problems to report (and if I recall correctly, Chapter 1 was free on the Ubuntu App Store).

Broken AgeBroken Age (Double Fine Productions): Another point-and-click that you can do in any order.  You alternate between two point-of-view characters, one seemingly in a fantasy tale and the other in a science fiction universe, until they start colliding and even switching places.  The last chapter was much more challenging for me that the previous ones because you need to meta-game and use information that a given character would not have had a chance to learn in-game.  Available on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux; I played it on Steam for Linux with Ubuntu 14.04 and had two minor issues: mouse speed could not be slowed down enough to use my Wacom stylus and was in the upper range of usability with the mouse; and occasionally in the last chapter the game froze and I had to restart it, but I didn’t lose any progress.

Logo-PearlsPerilPearl’s Peril (Wooga): A hidden object game that is both surprisingly addictive and infuriating.  Pros: Great production values, beautiful images, and some clever use of similar objects with different names (e.g.,  barrel and drum), different objects with the same name (e.g., a spade can be a playing card symbol or a garden tool, a fan can be a paper object or a piece of equipment), and different objects with similar sounding names (e.g., bell and belt, car and cart.)  Cons: Horrible mishmash of anachronisms, geographical heresies, and illogical statements as facts; no real opportunity to put clues together to resolve puzzles or investigate; “freemium” model that keeps trying to get players to spend more money by blocking progress.  Available as a Facebook in-browser game and on iOS.  I play it on my iPhone 5s and it periodically drops progress, forcing the player to repeat a sequence or wasting in-game resources.

room3The Room 3 (Fireproof Games): Recently released sequel to the award winning series; so far I’ve enjoyed it as much as the first two instalments, though the puzzles may be a tad easier this time around.  As before, the graphics are superb, the music lovely, and the experience immersive.  Available for iOS, and the Android release is upcoming.  No glitches to report so far, in the early part of the third chapter.  

[Edit: I finished my first run-through in 8 hours 24 minutes, without the help of walkthrough hints.  (I had to use them in order to finish Broken Age.)  No technical difficulties to report.  There are more scenes to explore and four alternate endings to check out, so this is good replay value.]

[Edit No. 2: Finished the second ending at 10h48m, or an additional 2h24m of play. Had to go look at a walkthrough for one clue.  Then 11h26m for the third ending and 11h36m for the fourth.]

Dipping my toes in the digital pool

TengamiMy friends know I love, love, love tabletop games, but rarely play digital games.  For one thing, I have poor reflexes, speed, coordination, and dexterity, which cuts down entirely swaths of games; and I don’t get very excited with resource-management games.

I do, however, enjoy well-made mysteries and puzzle games, and sometimes even excel at them. I particularly enjoy the ones that have a narrative and some good graphics. Recently, I worked my way through the following, with great enjoyment:

Alchemy Mysteries: Prague Legends (Jet Dogs Studio): Not too hard on normal settings, perfect to while away a few hours and strike a good mix of challenge and brainlessness.  Some pixel-hunting and occasional glitches, but nothing terminal.  You can also play on advanced mode for more limited access to clues.

Tengami (Nyamyam): Beautiful and oddly relaxing, based on Japanese paper art.  Pretty quick to move through, but so pretty.

The Room and The Room 2 (Fireproof Games): Boxes within boxes which you have to open. Best balance of challenging versus feasible in the bunch.  Completely addictive, beautiful, logical. I can’t wait for No. 3.

Monument Valley (ustwo): The adventures of a princess on a quest in an Escher-inspired landscape. Sweet and clever, stylized art, a bit like Tengami.

I’m still working on the last three:

Last Voyage (Semidome): Visuals reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Very attractive but some puzzles require more reflexes than I have. Yes, they are minimal, but I’m just that clumsy.

The Guides (Kevin Bradford): A cryptography game? I have not figured out that one yet. It may be too smart for me.

DEVICE 6 (Simogo): Combination of puzzle and choose-your-own-adventure ebook. I loaded it but have not gotten very far because it’s hard on my eyes (it’s on my phone).