Well, I’m sure that you’ve heard that Disney shut down the video game arm of Lucasarts recently. For those of you who haven’t been living/breathing this stuff for the last 20 years, Lucasarts (somehow) managed to put out videogames that were not only passable, but downright good. Heck, not just downright good, but downright *INNOVATIVE*.
In the middle of a boom of “Sim” games, they came out with “Sim Afterlife”. When First Person Shooters had their first boom, they came out with Dark Forces which took Doom to the Star Wars universe and that worked amazingly well (including, of course, Stormtrooper rifles that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn). They also came out with The Best Danged Adventure Games Ever. The Monkey Island series. The Sam and Max series. Full Throttle. Grim Fandango. Brilliant games with gorgeous environments in compelling universes telling interesting stories…
And, anyway, they’ve been shuttered.
To be sure, it’s not like there have been a whole bunch of adventure games hitting the market in recent years… the First Person Shooter games were limited in their earliest incarnations by simple things like physics and graphics, while adventure games were perfect for limited physics and graphics capability… but as these things improved (by leaps and bounds), the limits of the adventure game were shown and the FPS pretty much took off.
But every now and again, I miss adventure games. A good story, told well, punctuated by puzzles. The Book of Unwritten Tales was on sale on Steam recently for 75% off (!) and I picked it up for five bucks… and I’m positively entranced. The graphics have been updated for today’s computers but we’re still using the same fixed point perspective, point and click interface, add this thing to that thing and then use this item on it to solve a problem. And, on top of that, it’s not dexterity-based. You don’t need twitch reflexes, you don’t even need particularly good reflexes. You need little more than solitaire-level mouse skills. It’s a total flashback.
An example: In the chapter I most recently finished, I had a Quest to Create A Potion that involved finding 8 different ingredients (some of which needed to be processed one way or another) in about 8 different places (which took a good long time, believe you me) and then, having collected them, I had to follow a recipe that was about as convoluted as you’d expect. “Add this ingredient and then stir 4 times counter-clockwise, then add other ingredient and wait for mixture to turn blue” and I had to start over several times because my potion kept blowing up.
The game is a lovely little diversion. Checking out Steam now, I see that it’s $20 and I can’t in good conscience recommend it for $20… but, I’m sure it’ll be on sale again soon (hey, it’s Steam) and if you can catch it for $10, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to you for that.