May 30, 2012

The Journey Down Giveaway

Journey Down HD by the brilliantly named SkyGoblin is a stunning game to look at. Simply stunning. Happily, it also is a properly funny and, quite frankly, great adventure game I should have already reviewed ages ago, but, well, that bundle is an incredibly time-consuming beast. Anyway. Take my word for it: if you ever loved adventure games you'll adore the Journey Down.

You can handily grab it via a healthy selection of online download shop-thingies (including Desura) and you can also try and win one of the five copies SkyGoblin is graciously giving away for Gnome's Lair readers. Just leave a comment here and make sure I've got some way of contacting you. You have till Monday! The winners will be announced via this very post.

[UPDATE]: And now for the winners; please do drop me a line!

  • MoP
  • Panayotis Pantazis
  • Johny Rivera
  • Barts
  • Nick Burgener

May 25, 2012

The Sea Will Claim Everything Postcard

Sadly, I don't have the time to properly review The Sea Will Claim Everything by Jonas Kyratzes, even though it is the game we are debuting via Bundle In A Box - Adventure Bundle. I do, on the other hand, have the time to impress you with the above postcard (disclaimer: not really a postcard; more of a screenshot). You see, it's not only a beautifully hand-painted picture, but one hiding dozens of whimsical details and a myriad hotspots. Even the tiniest of books on the upper shelf comes with a silly/serious/satirical/brilliant title and author, and absolutely everything you see surrounding The has a story to tell. 

So, uhm, grab the game, will you? 

May 23, 2012

It's Alive! Bundle In A Box - Adventure Bundle is alive!

Yes, it is true. Bundle In A Box - Adventure Bundle, the indie gaming bundle I and Kyttaro Games have been working on since, well, December is finally live! And it comes with its Indie Dev Grant, its important charity, its unique twist on the pay-what-you-want model, its DRM-free downloads and, well, all sorts of bells and whistles you can discover over at the bundle site itself.

What I'd rather talk about here though are the games we've managed to secure (for your eyes only). Let me present them, starting off with a title that's making its exclusive world-wide debut via Bundle In A Box

The Sea Will Claim Everything by Jonas Kyratzes. A huge, stunning, brilliantly written foray into the debt-stricken Lands of Dream and Jonas' magnum opus. Also a game sporting wonderful hand-drawn graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, a huge and incredibly detailed world, demented characters, and, yes, great puzzles!

Gemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games. The indie neo-noir masterpiece that has won a ton of awards and I reviewed (and loved) not that long ago. 

Metal Dead by Walk Thru Wall Studios. Games with zombies are common. Games with a heavy metal theme are too rare. Metal Dead is unique, funny and brilliant. Remember my review? Good.

Ben There, Dan That! (Special Edition) by Size Five Games. A surreal love letter to the Lucasarts adventure and a surprise indie hit I've actually complete three times. The Special Edition comes with all sorts of extras. Oh, and here's an interview with Dan Marshall; the heart of Size Five Games.

Time Gentlemen, Please! by Size Five Games. BTDT's direct sequel and an even better game with extremely stylish graphics and Nazi dinosaurs.  

1893: A World's Fair Mystery by The Illuminated Lantern. Text-adventures (or is that interactive fiction?) are far from dead and Bundle In A Box is doing its very best to bring them back into the hearts of the masses. 1893, one of the last commercial offerings of the genre and a huge and lavishly illustrated mystery, is finally available as a DRM-fee download. 

The Shivah by Wadjet Eye Games. The historically important point-and-click adventure that kickstarted Wadjet Eye Games and a most excellent and at times taxing game with atmospheric graphics and some innovative puzzles.

As for the extras that will unlock as the bundle reaches wider audiences, they are pretty exciting themselves. We've managed to box (heh) the never-before-seen Making Of Metal Dead booklet, and the original soundtracks of both Gemini Rue and The Shivah into a lovely digital present any adventurer should enjoy.

And, that's that. Better head over to Bundle In A Box methinks...

Oh, and please do help spread the word by writing, blogging, twitting, facebooking (?), redditing and googleplusing about it. Thanks!

May 21, 2012

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land Review

Sometimes the truths of the universe are too shocking for us to accept and some other times cosmic realities simply cannot be understood. Still, I just can't comprehend why Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is the only (and thus first) Lovecraftian, turn-based, tactical game I've ever encountered; let alone one of the few games to use the trenches of WWI as a dark and desperate setting.

On the other hand, ignorance is bliss and creative people get strange dreams courtesy of the Outer Gods, who have been slumbering and waiting for an ambitious take on X-Com that will actually feature Dark Youngs, undead soldiers, mad mages, hints of Reanimator and the spawn of Cthulhu. Happily, said dreams spawned The Wasted Lands, which, as should have already been made blatantly obvious, is a lovely turn-based, tactical affair with a few RPG touches.

You get your characters, your action points, your experience points, your oppressive 3D terrains, your campy but delightful plot, your spells, your otherworldly monstrosities, your cultists and your zombified soldiers in one of the most honest (and cheap) strategy games I've recently played. What you also get is a truly elegant adaptation of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu rules, the first ever sanity mechanics to actually work in a wargame and a most successful atmosphere. 

On the downside, this is a really short game sporting ten or so missions, that will last you for roughly ten hours, and, irritatingly, a game with a few control problems. Apparently, its iOS roots haven't been ironed out, but trust me when I say that you'll very soon be used to its, uhm, eccentricities. Oh, and you can only grab it over at the universally unknown Intel AppUp online store, meaning that more middleware will have to be installed on your ever-encumbered PC.

Still though, hadn't had this much fun with a turn-based strategy game, since, well, X-Com and that should be all you need to know.

Verdict: Cthulhu would smile and devise new tactics.

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May 16, 2012

Bundle In A Box to launch on May 23

Yes, the Bundle In A Box - Adventure Bundle will indeed launch on May 23; that's a week from now! Head over to, bookmark the site, subscribe to the newsletter and wait for those seven brilliant DRM-free games I have personally hand-picked. Oh, and you do know we are debuting one fantastic new game, don't you?

Adventure Lantern - the May issue

Another month, another issue of Adventure Lantern. Download the (free as ever) magazine here and read all  the latest adventure related news, as well as an eclectic selection of reviews, previews and interviews. Expect quite a bit on The Dream Machine, The Journey Down, The Walking Dead and The Lost Crown. Oh, and while you are at it, do not forget to read (or, well, listen to) this excellent interview with Chris Jones on Tex Murphy - Project Fedora that has just been posted.

May 15, 2012

Grab a Fedora and Kickstart Tex Murphy - Project Fedora

Tex Murphy, adventure gaming's fedora-wearing, wise-cracking, lovable and down-on-his-luck detective, has been solving crimes ever since his first appearance on 1989's almost classic Mean Streets. More than a few games followed and each and every one of them managed to be a mostly brilliant, generally succesful and usually innovative point-and-clicker that humorously managed to mix sci-fi and noir elements.

Now, as you may have noticed, there hasn't been a Tex Murphy game since Overseer and that was back in 1998. But, as with the recent blooming of the Adventure Renaissance apparently anything can happen, a Tex Murphy Kickstarter campaign happened and you should definitely support it. 

Project Fedora, for this is how the game is currently being called, is aiming to be the best Tex Murphy to date, and, well, hopes are high. It will apparently be another FMV/3D trip to post-apocalyptic San Francisco that will reunite creators Chris Jones and Aaron Conners and resolve any cliffhangers that may have been tormenting you those last years. Oh, and, so you know, there are some excellent reward tiers to help you part with your money; $15 will indeed be buying you a copy of the game.

[EXCITING UPDATE]: The ever-brilliant Adventure Lantern posted a brilliant interview with Chris Jones on Project Fedora for you to read/listen to.

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May 9, 2012

The Prestigious 2011 AGS Awards

Yes, reader, it is that time of the year again and the adventure gaming community, or, well, the Adventure Game Studio part of said tasteful community, is presenting its prestigious and much coveted awards: the 2011 AGS Awards. Find out which brilliant games won the popular vote below and do allow me to congratulate three of my favourite games for their success: Gemini Rue, Blackwell Deception and I Fought the Law, and the Law One.

Best Game: Gemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law One, Blackwell Deception, King's Quest III Redux, Technobabylon Part 3.

Best GameplayGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: Arden's Vale, Blackwell Deception, King's Quest III Redux, Space Quest: Vohaul Strikes Back.

Best Original StoryGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law One, Chance of the Dead, Draculator II, The Far Corners of the World Chapter 1.

Best Dialogue Writing: Blackwell Deception by Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law One, Barn Runner 5, Draculator II, Gemini Rue.

Best Puzzles: The Far Corners of the World Chapter 1 by Wesray Productions | Nominees: Arden's ValeGemini RueTechnobabylon Part 3, The Visitor.

Best Short Game: Arden's Vale by Antipus | Nominees: Chance of the DeadDraculator II, Submerged - LaSol, The Unfolding Spider.

Best Non-Adventure Game: Cart Life by Richard Hofmeier | Nominees: Concurrence, Prime Minister's Questions: The Game.

Best Demo: Wretcher by Alan v. Drake | Nominees: City, He Watches.

Best Player CharacterGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law OneChance of the DeadDraculator II, The Unicated.

Best Non Player Character: Space Quest: Vohaul Strikes Back by Team VSB | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law OneBarn Runner 5Draculator IIGemini Rue.

Best Background ArtGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law OneConcurrenceKing's Quest III ReduxSpace Quest: Vohaul Strikes Back.

Best Animation: Adventure: All in the Game by Akril | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law OneArden's ValeDraculator IIGemini Rue.

Best Character ArtGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: I Fought the Law, and the Law OneChance of the DeadKing's Quest III ReduxThe Unicated.

Best ProgrammingCart Life by Richard Hofmeier | Nominees: AGS Ceremony 2010ConcurrenceGemini Rue,  King's Quest III Redux.

Best Sound EffectsGemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger and Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: Egress - The Test of STS-417.

Best Voice WorkBlackwell Deception by Wadjet Eye Games | Nominees: Gemini RueDraculator IIKing's Quest III Redux.

Best Music: I Fought the Law, and the Law One by Ben Chnadler (music by Sebastian Pfaller and David Pfaller) | Nominees: Blackwell DeceptionGemini RueKing's Quest III ReduxSpace Quest: Vohaul Strikes Back.

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May 8, 2012

Thomas Was Alone on IndieGoGo

Ever since Gnome's Lair came to life back in the first days of 2006, it has been happily enjoying the works of Mike Bithell and that, dear reader, is one of the reasons the particularly exciting Thomas Was Alone IndieGoGo campaign couldn't go unnoticed. The other reason is that Thomas Was Alone is an excellent minimalist puzzle platformer about friendship and, rather obviously, quality game design that simply has to be properly made. You know, complete with voice-overs, sleek graphics and all the demented puzzles we could ask for, so well, why not reserve your copy and help it out?

May 4, 2012

Fracuum by Tyler Glaiel

Like a psychedelic version of the Atari 2600 Adventure on steroids, Fracuum is a brilliantly designed and utterly mind-bending maze game. It has you navigating a complex and expertly designed labyrinth that feels quite a bit like a zoomable fractal, while avoiding baddies and collecting points and power-ups. Play it and have your mind messed with.

May 3, 2012

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters

I hate motivational and/or inspirational books. They are always written by some sort of half-illiterate manager person, are morally dubious and tend to forget (as George Carlin once pointed out) just how motivated Hitler was. Happily, and despite some pretty silly things I've read online, Anna Anthropy's Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is not a motivational book. It's a bleeding manifesto; some sort of a DADA/Bauhaus attempt to strengthen the popular assault on corporate gaming, provide it with the necessary tools for the job and inspire it.

Now and to keep things simple, here's what I have to say: if you ever thought of creating a game, if you ever created one, but even if you have never played a game before yet feel you have things to share with the rest of us, this is a book you simply have to grab.

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters starts off by explaining just what a game is and what it can achieve in order to swiftly focus on games created by individuals; auteur games. Admittedly, this might sound pretentious or even of elitist origins, but, trust me, it's not. Far from it really. What Anna Anthropy wants is for people to express themselves via the creation of games; easily and without the need of assembling teams or raising money. She doesn't attack the other ways of creating them mind (well, she does have a few things to say about the shitty corporate offerings of today). She merely points out that you could and should do it.

Yes, that would indeed be YOU. Probably even me too.

A game after all can be about anything; just like a short story, a poem or a fiery article. It can be personal, political, funny, fun, thought-provoking, wildly innovative, aesthetically important or something its creator simply had to share. What Anna urges us to do with this book is to actually let our creative selves free to, well, create. She even provides with some ideas on the processes, sites and tools that should help us.

What's more, she takes it upon herself to convince us that a game can also be created by anyone: freaks, normals, amateurs, artists, dreamers, dropouts, queers, housewives and probably even those dreaded geeks. Just not fascists; their games are bound to be as grotesque as the insides of their heads, but I digress.

What I wanted to say was that this book is brilliant and very well written indeed. It's most inspiring, deeply personal and filled with helpful tips and ideas and should even come in handy for people professionally creating games. It even reveals some shocking yet not entirely unexpected truths regarding the way game design universities overwork their students in order to prepare them for the notorious crunch big developers will subject them too.

Read it.

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