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Adventure Afterlife - A journey through 20 years of Adventure Games [ Part 2 ] 1993

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I’m starting my Adventure game play-through in 1993, the year after Monkey Island 2 came out. I’d played all the games in my selection before, though not for quite a while. This became evident after purchasing Gabriel Knight off GoG, and I realized I had no music at all. After about 90 gagillion hours I finally figured out that Windows 8 & 10 don’t actually have midi support, and then after messing about further I finally got it to work.Let it not be said I am not committed to this project. (I am also aware there is a remake on mobile, however it changes puzzle flow and has re-recorded VO). 1993 was blessed with a lot of adventure games, and it was quite hard to pick what ones to play.

I’m also going to admit the flaw in my weird project is that I didn’t set rules about what I should and should not play. I am therefore going to pretend this is a deliberate recreation of how I picked what games I played in the early 90s.Mainly by going into poky old game shops, then wandering around asking what adventure games they had.*

* Most of the time they tried to sell me lemmings or else lemmings came free with a lot of other games. I am not going to play lemmings.

Lure of the Temptress. (Revolution)

I should mention there's some moments of great dialogue. Like when Ratpouch controlled by AI will wander in and try to buy beer ( he's underage)/
I should mention there's some moments of great dialogue. Like when Ratpouch controlled by AI will wander in and try to buy beer ( he's underage)/

Lure of the temptress has several interesting features right from the start. It uses the ‘virtual theater’ system which allows NPCs to move from screen to screen. You can if you want follow them or at some points in the game an NPC will follow you. If you bump into them , they’ll say something and NPCs can also be given fairly complex strings of commands. This means that you can instruct the other character to go into another room and pull a series of levers, or press a button at theoretically the same time as the player.I say theoretically because the pathfinding can be extremely awkward, if your character takes too long to path to the target NPC or gets stuck then command will time out and end up with both characters standing around with a question mark over their head. It’s also fairly easy to loose Ratpouch your companion from the start of the game. I ended up needing him for a puzzle and having to traipse back the way I came to find where he’d gotten stuck. It’s a shame because Ratpouch’s semi autonomy leads to several funny points in the game. If you enter the rougher pub in town, he’ll try and buy beer from the barkeep. There are a few brief cut scenes that manage to do a lot with very little animation, and it’s a shame there aren’t a few more. The story is a little bare bones, but is enhanced by pockets of very funny dialog.

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Lure of the Temptress hasn’t aged well control wise, there’s a lot of wandering about trying to get things to happen, and the jankyness of the pathfinding makes it fiddly to play. However the use of NPCs is really interesting, they act more like characters from an open world RPG wandering around and interacting with each other. It’s a system that very few other straight up adventures ever used and adds a bit of life to the town. Similarly it’s the snatches of very funny dialogue that shine in a fairly average story. Since one of my aims in this blog series is to cover interesting things about adventure games, I urge you stick with me for 1994 for Revolution’s next game which took these two elements and ran with them.

Simon the Sorcerer

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In 1993 if an adventure game had voices it was a talkie, and despite a spate of awfully voiced games in this period Simon the Sorcerer cast Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie as the title character. Simon is meant to be a young teen in this, and despite what I think is a slight pitch shift Barrie is probably a little old. However he and the rest of the voice cast are excellent. The gameplay is fairly standard in adventure games, the puzzles largely make sense although there are a few utterly frustrating points which let the game down somewhat:

1.Tiny Bespoke Rocks

At at least four points in the game you need to find some kind of small rock. Several of which use the same sprite in the inventory. These rocks are usually hidden somewhere on the floor….or these wonderful incredibly densely packed pixel backgrounds. But only certain rocks on certain screens can be picked up and used. This happens four times in the game with rocks alone.

2. It wasn’t finished

The final part of the game features a lot of weird dead ends. A small wooden wedge appears then disappears from your inventory. Simon picks up and can polish a shield, only to leave it hanging on the wall as he enters the final area where it’s never used. Whilst the game is still completable these numerous dead ends toward the end of the game are frustrating.

3. Tiny Bespoke exits

Whilst the fast travel map is a great way to backtrack, it only features select locations. It also doesn’t hint if you’ve missed something, especially annoying when several screens have exits you can only leave when you click on the right object ( usually something Simon has to climb).

Despite these flaws, Simon is still a funny game. The talking wood worm stuck with me for years after I originally played it ( on an Amiga CD 32 no less, puzzle hunting is not fun with a gamepad). Interestingly it also moves save/load and fast travel to inventory items. This means with the verbs and inventory permanently taking up the bottom half screen the top half is almost never obscured.

Gabriel Knight

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Gabriel Knight was the most serious of the games I played.There are a number of notable voices in the game; Tim Curry voices the lead character Gabriel, Mark Hammill voices his best friend Detective Mosely and Michael Dorn appears as Dr John the creepy head of the local voodoo museum. There’s a bit of pixel hunting in Gabriel Knight, and you can get frustratingly far into the game then grind to a massive halt without even realizing that items can be that hidden. In it’s defense in nowhere in the game does Gabriel have to pick up four tiny bespoke rocks.

The game has two main narrative threads Gabriel’s family history, and a series of ‘voodoo’ murders.These interweave as you go on and you can make quite a big discovery about Gabriel’s family on the first day via solving a really obtuse puzzle. You can also do what I did ( despite having played it before), and forget about it assuming that the puzzle can’t be solved only to grind to a halt later because you arbitrarily need to solve it before the day will end and new events trigger. Gabriel can also die, but the only way you’d know that is if it happens to you. If you do die you’d better hope you’ve saved recently. Lure of the Temptress at least alerts you to the fact you can die by making it fairly likely to happen at least once near the start of the game.

Bonus here's a making of Doc with Tim Curry!

Day of the Tentacle

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I actually started this project back in December, but only just started posting it. The timing has meant that DOTT remastered came out so I was easily able to play the game again. I actually played most of this with the remastered graphics, however I hope this will still be a fair write up. Alongside Simon this made the second comedy game I played. Where as Simon has a very British pantomime feel, DOTT owes far more to classic American Warner brothers cartoons as well as the clear Lucas Arts style. You can’t die at all, in fact there are numerous funny lines hidden around the game that encourage you to experiment and try new things.

The original graphics are still striking to this day, whilst the other games I played used very detailed styles DOTT consciously uses clean cartoon style visuals. I remember it looking absolutely stunning at the time, and the character and background designs still stand out. The voice over is also strong using many recognizable voices from cartoons of the time. The original voices are a little compressed, and crackly which happily Double Fine painstakingly cleaned up from the original tapes. It’s also a funny game, the writing is absolutely fantastic it’s funny and full of character. From the little lines the character’s say when you look at an item, to the cut scenes and overall plot.

Lucas Arts games always made use of the stranger settings and tone to provide a more comfortable context for the puzzles. This is a game where you can put laundry on for 200 years to shrink a sweater, or happy paint a cat’s back white to make it look like a skunk. I was able to play through without looking at a hint guide once which I think is a testament to the game. There were a few points I get stuck though, and largely due to the classic adventure game problem of not realizing something would work either because the game doesn’t tell you or because the action is used so rarely. For example there’s a puzzle used near the end of the game where there’s a large object that’s rather useful but it’s in the wrong place. You’re able to use the item even though it’s not in your inventory on the place you want to move it. It’s only the second time in the game you can do that, and it’s a little frustrating.

However overall DOTT is still fantastic, it’s by far the most polished of the games I played and well worth your time.

1993 was an absolutely fantastic year for adventure games. My top recommendation if you’ve not played any of these before is Day of the Tentacle, however despite their flaws both Simon and Gabriel Knight both have a lot going for them. For me all these years later the character’s in those games have endured. There are very few genres I think with player characters with such distinct personalities. When you look at items or solve puzzles, all these games felt like you were doing so in a way that was consistent with the character. Gabriel Knight is a little sleazy so whilst I roll my eyes, it’s consistent that he’s try and flirt with someone for information. Bernard in Day of the Tentacle shows a massive disregard for the Edison family, and chaos happily spreads throughout the mansion in his wake.

Games I nearly played:

A lot of adventure games came out in 1993! In the interest of this not becoming a blog series about 1993 here are some games I nearly played ( but will probably play later).

Star Trek 25th Anniversary

I think this is my favorite Star Trek game, a problem with a lot of Trek games is they focus on combat but Star Trek has always been about intelligent adults standing around consulting about problems then putting them into action. It stands to reason that they might map well onto an adventure game. The game also features the original cast doing voice over too.

Wayne’s World

There’s a Wayne’s World adventure game! I don’t think I ever finished it and I really should go back and do so. I remember this one being fun too, and considering how bad licensed titles were at the time it seems interesting to me that two of the one’s I remember from that period were adventure games.


In the interest of full disclosure didn’t want anyone saying I was chickening out so I did install Myst on my laptop, but it decided to crash every time I opened a menu. I have a very adversarial relationship with Myst, I’ve tried several times to play it and each time I’ve given up. This may be a new record even for me though ( 8 seconds). This IGN article says it was the best selling game of it’s time, and I certainly remember it being everywhere. I might not get back to this. I even asked an IRC bot if I should play it and it said no. I asked on Twitter when I was originally planning this project and the general sentiment was “ don’t it’s bad”. However I know people who love it, and my sneaking suspicion is it’s people who generally like the story of adventure games but hate the kinds of puzzles the 3rd person point and clicks had. I’ve since gotten it to run on my desktop so I’ll probably head back at some point and play with some friends.