It's the second Saturday of March, which means it's once again time to start looking through my vast digitally distributed backlog in search of unfinished games to feature in this month's instalment of...
March Edition - Point-and-Click Adventures!
If you're not familiar with this monthly featurette, permit me to get you up to speed. Letting Off Some Steam is a blog I'm planning to run on the second weekend of every month in 2014, in which I look at some of the games I've bought on Steam but never had the time or the inclination to play through. The hope is that by doing this I can decide which of these games interest me the most, which in turn should help me to better prioritise my Steam backlog. This month's 'theme' for Letting Off Some Steam is point-and-click adventure games, and first up on the agenda is...
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars (Director's Cut)
The first thing that came into my head upon starting this remastered version of the original Broken Sword was "damn, that's some bad voice acting". The unconvincing French accent of Nico's voice actress doesn't make a great first impression. Thankfully, the game managed to redeem itself once it got going. Having not played the original version of Broken Sword, I don't have a point of reference to talk about gameplay changes, so I'm purely judging the Director's Cut on its own merits here. The point-and-click gameplay and inventory interface are both intuitive to use and visually well-presented. The glowing 'points of interest' on-screen proved helpful in my exploration of the environments, but at the same time I still felt in complete control of the experience and not like I was being guided. I'm not a huge fan of the updated character art, but all in all Broken Sword seems like an interesting adventure game, and one that I'll probably be coming back to in the future.
Can a game sucker-punch a human being? Because I'm pretty sure that's what Jolly Rover did to me in the half-hour I spent playing it earlier today. Before that, it was just a by-product of buying a cheap indie game bundle - something I had no interest in playing. Now, it's a charming, funny indie adventure game that I'm very keen to get back to playing as soon as possible. The art direction is simple but appealing, and the humorous dialogue had me chuckling to myself numerous times. In terms of both its gameplay and its presentation it reminds me of the remake of Secret of Monkey Island I played a few years ago, to the point where I'm curious as to whether it's running on the same engine. It also seems to have a well-implemented hint system whereby you can trade in-game collectibles in exchange for advice on how to progress. Jolly Rover is definitely one of those cases where I was very glad to have my preconceptions shattered.
Of all four games I played in preparation for this month's Letting Off Some Steam, Loom is the one that left me feeling the most divided. On the one hand, I admire its efforts to break the conventional point-and-click mould in terms of its simplified interface and music-based object interaction. It's also the game that seems to be telling the most interesting story out of everything I sampled today. On the other hand, though, the lack of a detailed interface or inventory, or even a book of 'drafts' (the game's name for sequences of notes that affect objects) left me feeling like I lacked the proper information I needed in order to play. It also moves painfully slowly, even by the standards of the usually methodical point-and-click genre. Add those shortcomings to its outdated presentation and the result is a game I'm not sure I'm willing to persevere with - a real shame, considering how interesting the game's premise is.
Tales of Monkey Island
I love the way Telltale do adventure games. Last year it was The Walking Dead that got its claws into me, and the year before that it was the first season of Sam and Max. Tales of Monkey Island is pretty close to the latter when it comes to both presentation and gameplay (a fact which also served as a welcome reminder I should really get back to playing through the rest of the dog-and-rabbity-thing duo's episodic adventures). As you'd expect from a Monkey Island game, it's also pretty funny to boot - the opening forty minutes of Episode 1 were full of referential jokes and other oddities that had me gleefully giggling at Guybrush throughout. If I had to level one complaint at the game, it's that the inventory management side of things seems a little messy . Combining inventory items in particular seems unnecessarily clunky - why I can't I just drag one item over another and release? That's a relatively minor quibble, though, and one that I'm sure won't keep me from playing through the Tales of Monkey Island series at some point down the line.
That just about does it for another instalment of Letting Off Some Steam. Out of these four games, I think it's going to be Jolly Rover that I return to first, while Loom is the lowest priority of them all. It's been a pretty fun edition to write, actually, and a good example of why this was worth doing in the first place, because I probably would never have even installed Jolly Rover otherwise.
Away from Steam, I'm continuing to work my way through Final Fantasy VIII little by little. I'm right at the end of Disc 2 now, I believe, and am about to confront Sorceress Edea inside Galbadia Garden. I also spent the last week or so playing through the 3DS version of LEGO The Lord of the Rings, which my good friend @ThomasMayhew got me for my birthday last week. Having never played a LEGO game before I had a surprising amount of fun romping through its cutesy, brick-based version of Middle Earth. I finished the main quest with a completion percentage around 70%, but I'm still dipping in and out of it at the moment to find more hidden items and unlock new characters.
All that remains to be said at this point is thanks, as always, for reading. I'm hoping to put together the next part of my Pokémon FireRed Nuzlocke Challenge tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Until then, take care and I'll see you around.
Currently playing - Final Fantasy VIII (PS3)