The Painscreek Killings is a 1st person, point-and-click, free-roaming, mystery game. You begin the adventure as a journalist who wants to find out exactly what has happened in Painscreek to write a compelling story. Upon arrival; however, you find out that the town has been abandoned, gated and many investigators before you were tasked with similar missions but for one reason or another ended up unheard of.
As soon as the main menu came up, I felt very pleased with what I was seeing. The music is soothing and the graphics look like they’ve been filtered with a vintage lens. In a way the game resembles a walking-simulation but eventually you realize there’s a lot to tackle beyond the surface. I play PLENTY of adventure and mystery games and I consider this game probably the closest I got to a real detective-experience.
The village is very charming and immensely enjoyable to explore. This is a good thing because you’ll find yourself going back and forth through many of its locations. The layout, design and lore were carefully laid out. The various locations are interconnected and will definitely require you to write things down.
The game doesn’t depend on AI interactions, neither is it a straight-forward puzzler like most detective adventures these days. It heavily depends on visiting each destination, reading journal entries, letters and notes left behind by the village inhabitants and forming a picture. Eventually each location will augment pieces missing in another place until you draw a clear map of who the killer is, what weapon was used and where did the incident take place. In fact, you aren’t bound by a set of events taking place in this game to the point where you could end the game at anytime and immediately solve the mystery if you think you’re ready.
I truly loved this game. It felt pleasantly immersive and from the moment I started the game to the very end it kept me hooked. The horror factor in the game isn’t associated with goblins and monsters but there is a very prominent creepy theme going on. I consider games with subtle touches of horror far more effective than those that deliver it to your face.
While playing this game the weather wasn’t that great and we encountered a big storm that left us staying at home for days. This game was the perfect companion. I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters and following up with their leads. I also had a lot of fun experimenting with different note-taking apps to help me organize my thoughts & solve the investigation. Google Keep & Simple Mind mapping helped a great deal. The following is a mind map that I created for the game and it really helped to keep track of who’s who and who’s related to what. Although it doesn’t include the answer of the mystery, you might not want to zoom in too much to avoid spoilers.
My final score is 5/5 ★★★★★
- 5/5 for gameplay
- 4/5 for plot
- 5/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 5/5 for overall experience
Game Platform (played on): PC, Steam
The Silent Age is an indie point-and-click adventure game by the Danish developer House on Fire. The story takes place in 1972 and centers on a character names Joe who works as a janitor in a company. One day Joe meets a strange man from the future and receives a device that enables him to travel back and forth between two realms– Joe’s current day in the 70’s and a post-apocalyptic version of his world. In order to solve the mystery and find answers Joe must toggle back between his realms to manipulate items and solve puzzles.
The Silent Age is visually stunning. The graphic style of the game is trendy and unique. The colors are vibrant and the characters are amusing. The narrative of the story is well written and is deeper than what is initially expected. By the end of the game all loose ends are met and you get an overall sense of understanding of how everything was brought together. I also found myself actually caring about Joe despite how short the game was.
The game is sold for $10 on the Apple store. On the iOS, the game is divided into 3 episodes, each selling for around $5. On steam, the price tag is $9. The game is divided into 10 short chapters. I do feel for the price offered the game is shorter than what it should be.
The game is categorized as a ‘puzzle’ game but there weren’t really any puzzles per se. The game is purely dependent on item manipulation. I also think the overall difficulty of the game is not to my liking. For instance, at any given time you aren’t given more than 3 items (for the most part even only 2). Eventually it becomes very predictable where these items will be used. A more challenging experience would have been to either allow the gamer to carry more items making it difficult to decide what is to be used where or to limit it to few items but expand the area of exploration (similar to Thimbleweed Park). By the time I reached the last 4 or 5 chapters, I found myself getting bored. My motivation to continue was to find out what was going to happen.
For an indie game I think The Silent Age is decent. I would imagine the game isn’t best suited for Adventure game veterans though. For a lesser price, I would have thought the game is a must try.
My final score is 3/5 ★★★★
- 4/5 for originality
- 3.5/5 for plot
- 2/5 for puzzles & exploration
- 3/5 for overall experience
Game platforms: Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems
Links: Official Website, Video Trailer, Steam, iTunes/Apple
I just finished playing The Eyes of Ara and I’m pretty excited to share my opinion about it. It’s not everyday that I get to find a game that I really really really like. I grew up playing Adventure Puzzle games like Zork and Myst. While many games have surfaced over the years inspired by these classics, very little of them delivered well in my opinion. Almost every game now is developed in an adaptive first-person perspective that moves in real-time. Thanks to touch screens, they are slowly returning. In The Eyes of Ara, aside from the real-time horizontal/vertical camera perspective, the actual navigation is true classic point-and-click.
You begin the game in a boat being lead down a river that takes you to an abandoned castle. You find a letter in the boat which states the reason why you’re there. Many people have been troubled by this abandoned castle due to hearing a weird signal. This signal remains unidentifiable because not many people are keen on investigating the source especially with a lot of rumors going around town about the sanity of the original owner in addition to other supernatural stories. You’ve been hired to investigate the place and put to rest these rumors once and for all. Upon arrival; however, things take an interesting turn.
Continue reading “Review: The Eyes of Ara”