Disco Driscoll

Point and click, retro, music, meh...

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Emily Enough: Imprisoned

Emily Enough is imprisoned in an asylum because, in spite of her tender years, she massacred her family at her own birthday party. We take control of the precocious child as she attempts to escape her incarceration, although whether we should be attempting to reintegrate the girl into civilised society is questionable.

First off, the humour is very dark, and some of the things that Emily has to do to escape (including at least one of the Deadly Sins) are even darker. If you can handle that, then Emily Enough is a richly rewarding experience. However, it’s not for kids or the easily offended.

The backdrop of the game is that a pharmaceutical company, Claxochem, has effectively taken over the hospital, and are using it to test drugs on patients. Their unique way of testing involves simply plying the patients with drugs and then throwing them back out onto the streets to see if their psychotic tendencies are in any way sated. So, it’s a little like the system we have in the UK already.

The characters in the asylum, as one would expect, all have their own particular problems, but crucially some of them are coherent enough to help Emily out.

The game has a nice line in absurdist humour, from the vending machine which distributes pick and mix pots of pills, to the rep canvassing the opinions of those patients with a proclivity for knives, before rewarding them for their assistance with, yup, a shiny new knife each.

The artwork is terrific, and the pale, ghostly faces of the inmates tell their own stories of sadness before the dialogue even kicks in; likewise, the dolorous music calls to mind a cross between a funeral march and something you might expect to have heard coming out of a radio in a communist country in the 1970s.

My only criticisms of the game are that quite a few of the characters seem superfluous, and you can spend quite a lot of time talking to people and hoping to advance the story, but ultimately getting nowhere. Also, the game is a little on the short side, but that might just be because it seemed to be building to a definite climax, only to end a somewhat of an ‘oh…right’.

Nevertheless, this in my top 5 of p’n’c easily, so you should play it now.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Disco Driscoll 23.07.07

The search for decent point and click games can be a laborious one. I visit Lazylaces and the AGS page, to name but two, on a daily basis, but you sure have to open a few oysters before you get the pearls. As the majority of the games are fan-made and free, you can’t really complain if the action is not to your liking, but nevertheless it can be frustrating when you haven’t played a great game for while.

The wait for new games from heavyweights of the scene like Grundislav and Yahtzee is somewhat akin to a perpetual Christmas Eve, with (hopefully) not the same kind of underwhelming ‘oh well that’s that over for another year’ at the end of it. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration; I remember Xmas morning as a kid slightly more fondly than I do the first time I played Trilby’s Notes, but only slightly.

So here at Disco Driscoll, we sift through the plethora of point and click / adventure games out there and report on the best. But not just the best, also the odd, the extremely risible even- anything worthy of a mention.

So you don’t have to plough through 1,000 interminable Japanese stuck-in-a-room games (inventory: match, jug of water, cable) only to get some incomprehensible (unless you’re Japanese) congratulatory message at the end. We’ll do it for you. Or more likely, we’ll just recommend other games.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


From the ridiculous to the sublime (whilst staying in the Czech Republic), it’s Samorost. A short, but legendary, game from Jakub Dvorksy.

This one’s slightly different from your common or garden point and click. Firstly, there are no items to collect and use; the way to progress is by interacting (ie, clicking) on the scenery in the correct order.

By doing so, you set in motion the chain of events that gets our little white-hatted character from one end of the screen to the other, and so onto the next screen.

The premise of the game is that our hero’s planet is going to be hit by a rogue planet or asteroid of some description, and so he does what any of us would do: he charters his little tin can of a rocket ship, and flies onto the alien rock to avert the danger.

The art really is quite beautiful. If you check Dvorsky’s webpage for Amanita Design, you will see other examples of animations and games in a similar style, including an awesome video that he created for a song by the brilliant Danish band Under Byen . It’s the kind of thing that if you like Samarost’s style, then you’re likely to appreciate all of the Amanita stuff.

The puzzles are abstract, but if you don’t possess that kind of brain then a bit of random clicking will usually see you through; quite often, you will see the solution to the problem only after having solved it, as things move slowly into place.

The only minor problem with the game is its length. The first time I played it, some years ago, I was convinced that I was getting into the most amazing gaming experience of my life and then… it finished. At 6 screens, it’s nicely lunch break-sized, but you may be a little disappointed when it finishes, such is its beauty.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Vesmirna Becherovka

Also known as '2004: Space Becherovka', this is a game that appears to have been made in association with a Czech alcoholic beverage of same name. It’s available in both Czech and English, and can be downloaded from right here

Firstly, be warned that the translation leaves a little to be desired, and seems to have come straight out of a pocket dictionary. Also, and irritatingly, the final scenes of the game dissolve into periodic Czech even in the English language version, complicating the completion of the game.

The ‘plot’ of the game is that our young hero, Viktor, finds himself first heartbroken, then hostage on a space ship. Once aboard the ship he begins his attempt to escape, which in turn leads to his involuntarily trying to save the universe from Daft Vapour.

Oh yes, it’s a kind of Star Wars parody. Did I mention that? Well if I didn’t, then it’s because the game doesn’t follow the events of that hallowed triumvirate closely enough to warrant the term ‘parody’, yet it is shot through with feebly-named clones (Obi-Wan Cenosis, for example) and allusions to the films.

It really would have been better for the author to have avoided Star Wars altogether, and simply set the game in space, as despite the flaws of bad translation, iffy graphics and odd puzzles, the game is strangely charming.

It’s the standard fare of using items that you collect to solve puzzles, open doors, decapitate henchmen etc. Instead of having a separate command for look, speak etc, you just get the one all-purpose interact command, which works satisfactorily.

Not speaking Czech, or knowing the culture, I’m not aware of whether the game is in someway connected to the company which makes Becherovka, or (as seems more likely) one man’s homage to his favourite drink. Whatever, the product placement doesn’t really get in the way of the action.

It’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend the game, as it’s quite linear, a bit buggy and not particularly long, but there’s something about it that kept me playing. Maybe I’m just a sucker for games set on a spaceship, even if they are mind-numbingly derivative.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Homestar Runner

Without question the best thing on the internet, Homestar Runner follows the misadventures of a bunch of curiously-shaped cartoon kids and their attempts to kidnap mythical birds, found autonomous countries and check their e-mails.

The main characters are Strongbad, who dresses like a Mexican wrestler but with boxing gloves, and Homestar Runner himself, a lanky white…erm…guy with no arms at all. Check out the Strong Bad Email section or the Toons for the rub.

The former showcases Strongbad’s withering responses to e-mails sent in by visitors to the site- example Q- What would you do if a little animal came up to you? A - see for yourself. The latter features the wider circle of characters, including Homestar’s on/off girlfriend Marzipan, unscrupulous concession stand proprietor Bubs, and Strongbad’s sidekick The Cheat.

There’s also a Games section, consisting mostly of little homages to classic 80s video games, but involving characters and scenarios from the Homestar website. Peasant Quest is a particular favourite, an old-school adventure game with a text parser, a lot of mud, and a dragon (the mighty Trogdor).

If you haven’t visited the website before, then check it out. If you have heard of it, then why are you still here? Get over there now! It might have been updated!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

The Farm by Benedict Webb

The Farm is a curious, and frustratingly unfinished, enterprise that draws you in before ending abruptly. To be continued? Who knows.

In a world with Orwellian overtones, our main character is the victim of a midnight kidnapping by persons unknown. He awakes in a darkened room with no sense of where he is or what is happened. The initial puzzle which enables him to throw some light on his predicament is a tricksy one, and most satisfying once solved.

The navigation system is a little different to the norm, using the keyboard to access the usual look, use, speak functions, but otherwise it’s the standard fare. You gather items and information from the various rooms and characters you find once you have freed yourself from your cell.

Because the game is so short, the characters that you meet are sketched but not fully realised. They are an intriguing, if somewhat stereotyped, collection of oddballs, each with their own puzzle to solve that enables our hero to move onward in his quest. The game contains speech, with a pantheon of weird voices, some veering a little too near to Beavis and Butthead for credulity.

Ah yes, our hero. His incarceration seems to cause him a mixture of mild irritation and contempt, as if he has been inconvenienced terribly. He cuts a strange figure, almost like Alfred Hitchcock with his paunch and lazy diction. As the game progresses, and the full horror of what is facing him is uncovered, his tone becomes more urgent, yet it never really rises to the levels that you might expect.

The artwork is a weird mish-mash of styles, but it is never less than appropriately creepy. My main criticism of the game is that it is far too short, but then again my frustration is because what we have been shown is so promising (not to mention macabre) that you’re left wanting more.

The Farm is a free download. Follow the link at the top of the page and download the set-up file. It's 123MB but worth it.