Disco Driscoll

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

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Le Musee

How's your knowledge of French art? Good, I hope, because you've found yourself at the heart of something mysterious taking place in a gallery.

Anode et Cathode are a French design company who have made a few point and click games for us all to enjoy online. The best of the batch is Le Musee, wherein we have to find the items that are missing from a bunch of paintings. For example, the toga'd Roman figure in one painting is missing his headgear, so we have to hunt the museum for appropriate Roman headgear and then replace it on the painting.

Doing this brings the painting briefly to life, and then we move on.

A basic knowledge of French comes in handy at certain points in the game, and given that my skills are just that, basic, I'm assuming that even if your Gallic is non-existent you should be able to progress.

The atmosphere of the game is nicely surreal, with the cupid and the squirrel in the outdoor maze (maybe it makes sense in French...), and the slightly unnerving graphical style helps to set a sinister scene. We're never 'trapped' in the museum, so this isn't a frantic quest for keys, computer disks and four-digit codes, but rather an educational stroll through some French point and click.

Definitely worth a punt.

Sunday, 23 September 2007


It's a platform game and not a point and click, but I reckon you'll enjoy Knytt. It's made by the good people at Nifflas, who are responsible for the popular Within A Deep Forest, and is available as a download for Windows.

The story goes thus: Knytt is kidnapped from his home planet by an alien in a UFO, only for the craft to crash-land on a mysterious planet en route to the alien's world. The impact of the smash sends the various mechanical bits and bobs for miles over (and under) the planet's surface, so Knytt sets off to find each item to rebuild the craft.

Knytt can move, jump and cling to walls, as he explores the various zones that make up the planet, from desert sector to a subterrenean gloom guarded by spiders. Each area holds one of the pieces necessary for repair, and Knytt can get a clue to the nearest piece's whereabouts by shining a light and watching for the direction the light indicates.

This is a terrific little game, and although it's relatively short and gameplay not too varied, it represents a decent challenge. Each of the different areas are drawn superbly, and a great imagination is showcased here. The puzzles basically consist of working out how to access the various pieces, as one usually has to take the long way around, going past, around and over the residents of the world, as they go about their business unfazed by your presence.

Music is limited, with just the occasional little flourish of sound for a few seconds when you enter a new zone. That is not to say that the game is poorer for the lack of music, in fact you could say that it benefits from the subdued ambience. I particularly enjoyed the sounds that greet you when you come across the Mexican-esque level, with its cacti and snakes.

Take some time to enjoy the Knytt experience.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Tomb Raider... the saga disintegrates

Tomb Raider 2 >>>>> Tomb Raider 3 >>>>> Tomb Raider >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> any of the other feeble attempts since.

But, to be fair, Tomb Raider 2 is still one of my favourite 10 games across all formats, like, ever!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007


Haluz escaped my radar when it was initally released in October 2006, and only came to my knowledge when I saw that a part 2 had been released. You'll see from the screenshot that Haluz is somewhat of a Samorost clone, but an excellent one at that.

As with the aforementioned Samorost, you control a little guy as he interacts with his surroundings in order to complete a bunch of tasks which will enable him to achieve his goal. But rather than avoiding an asteroid in the face, our hero is trying to get his satellite dish back from a pernicious bird.

The game is beautifully done, and the backgrounds are vivid and magnificent. The puzzles involve pulling, pushing and generally irritating the flora and fauna, as with Samorost, into giving you a hand up (or down). Some of the solutions are a little absurd, but this only adds to the charm of the game, as you can be one minute staring at an unfathomable predicament, and the next you will have solved it and be onto the next unfathomable predicament. All of this is accompanied by some great atmospheric music.

The graphics are heavly influenced by the designer's native country Slovakia, and the forests on display here act as a neat little advert for a country I must confess I have never considered as a holiday destination.

The game has more screens than Samorost's 6, although like the Czech game it is nicely lunchbreak-sized. The fact that the game is so heavily influenced by another series of games makes it hard to be too effusive (although I'm making a go of it), but it should be said that an army of Samorost clones of this quality would be most welcome.

In the absence of any new output from Amanita in a little while, Haluz is just the thing to keep this particular sub-genre ticking over. Play now.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Ben Jordan Case 6: Scourge of the Sea People

It perhaps speaks volumes for how sad I am, that I spent last Saturday evening playing the new Ben Jordan mystery, Scourge of the Sea People. However, I am unapologetic once more, as this series of games is amongst the elite of the point and click scene. Once again, Grundislav has not disappointed.

We pick up with our eponymous hero as he arrives in Athens airport, with his two cohorts from the previous two adventures, Simon and Alice. The triumvirate have decided to take a well earned rest and visit the Greek capital for some culture and relaxation. They should have guessed though that fate would conspire to send them spiralling into the midst of another mystery.

Winding up in the port of Aiga Anna, the three investigators have no sooner settled into peaceful reverie than Ben, never one to shy away from a folktale, becomes aware of the legend of the Sea People. Tourists have been going missing from Aiga Anna’s beaches at night, and the locals blame the Sea People. Simon is reticent to get involved in another investigation, citing the fact that he came to Greece for some r&r.

We therefore take control of Ben once more as he goes it (almost) alone in his search to uncover the mystery. The interface is as per the other Ben Jordan games, and the graphics, whilst slightly improved, still have a reassuringly familiar feel.

First off, I must say that the soundtrack is one of the best I have heard in any game, freeware or not. The chirpy Grecian theme that accompanies us throughout the airport and village is an excellent piece of work, and whilst it is repetitive it never becomes jarring. The feedback-drenched guitar sounds that play whilst Ben explores the sea-lair are simply superb, and fit perfectly the ambience of the scenes, which are done to a tee.

The puzzles are satisfactory, and whilst I got stuck for 5-10 minutes on a couple of occasions, there was never a temptation to seek a walkthrough. In hindsight, some of the puzzles are a little contrived and the gameplay rather linear, but these are minor concerns. Once again, the all-round stylishness of the game, humorous dialogue and empathy with the characters wins through.

I have read criticism, notably on the AGS boards, of certain aspects of the gameplay (the needlessly fiddly navigation of the boat, the anticlimactic end scene), and whilst it is hard not to agree with the nitpicking, the minor flaws do not spoil the game. There are many hours worth of gameplay herein, and the difficulty level is set just about right, although as ever with AGS games there’s a little bit of random inventory clicking needed.

Perhaps the hype which now surrounds the series is placing unrealistically high expectations on each new instalment. All I will say is that there are very few developers out there in the freeware AGS environs who can hold a candle to Grundislav.

Afficianados of the series are keen to know how the series will end, and messageboards are ripe with theories regarding Ben's chums, the mystic's predictions in BJ4 and the tombstone in BJ3, But with parts 7 and 8 still to come the wait will go on a little longer.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Perils of Poom

Perils of Poom is a decent AGS game wherein our intrepid hero finds himself out of work and out of options. Until that is he comes across a shady character operating out of a shady office in a shady part of town, who wants him to run a simple errand. But unlike other simple errands, this one has great financial rewards… but it’s not at all dangerous… well, not unless you count stealing a space craft, tricking an intergalactic bank and attempting to harvest an illegal drug (the titular Poom) dangerous…

The game is a nice length, and should keep you diverted for several hours. There are 4 main locations: the home planet that we start off on, followed by 2 planets which we must visit to collect the items necessary for the harvesting, and then the final planet where the Poom can be found.

The story is a little weak in parts, but overall it’s coherent enough, and the dialogue is quite funny in places. Graphics are basic, to say the least but this doesn’t get in the way of the action. The puzzles are not too taxing, but satisfying enough and there is some nice variation and added touches throughout the game, such as the puzzle where we have to avoid the dreaded sandworm, and the bonus section that can be unlocked at the end of the game if you complete 3 additional tasks, which I can’t go into here for fear of giving them away.

As usual in sci-fi games, there is the odd Star Wars reference, and a couple of AGS in-jokes, but these are bearable. The locations are varied and well thought out, from the squalid grey city streets to the obligatory desert moon (man, could we ever have a sci-fi AGS game without one of those!?).

Overall, for a beginner to the joys of AGS and point and clickery, this is a good way to get acquainted with the kinds of puzzles that crop up routinely. The more advanced AGS’ers amongst us may find the game a little too straight-forward and linear, but the story is long enough to be able to immerse yourself in, and in spite of a slightly soft ending it can still be recommended.