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The Dig

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Lucas Arts 1995
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

The Dig - an experiment in megalomania. An epic science fiction adventure based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, made by the guys who made Star Wars (well, not quite). Special effects by Industrial Light and Magic. The hardest puzzles in a Lucas Arts game since Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Isn't marketing great? Here's an experiment: Let's judge the game exactly according to all the marketing slogans they came up with then.


The Duel in the Snow

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Utkonos 2009
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

The Duel in the Snow (A Tale of Old Russia) is a positive example of a new breed of text adventures: storytelling over gameplay. It is a mood piece, soaking with melancholy: Victor Pavlovich wakes up with a hangover. The memories of his wife Natasha leaving him are slowly creeping back. And then there is this nagging in the back of his head... ah, yes, the duel with Gronovskij who, according to Victor's best friend Kropkin, is an excellent shot.


The Elder Scrolls: Arena

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Bethesda Softworks LLC 1994
Genre: RPG, Action
Rating: 2/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

The first game in the Elder Scrolls series, it is - like many of them - an incredibly flawed, broken, not-at-all-finished game, that has so much appeal and good ideas, that you play it in the wish that there could exist a better version of the same game.


The Elfen Maiden: A Comedy of Error Messages

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Adam Le Doux 2011
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 5/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

Imagining a computer as a quasi-sentinent being might not be a completely new idea, but it hasn't been done that often – especially as a comedy. This particular computer's role is to serve its 'master', as it calls Jason. This might imply doing whatever he wants, but now, the computer simply knows that Jason is about to make a mistake which will scar him for life. Being active in an online role-playing game, he has met an 'Elfen Maiden'. Things are pointing towards a real-life date between the two. However, there are no women on the Internet (at least not Elvish ones), so the computer just knows that this must be a guy just playing the part. A look at Jason's porn stash confirms he would not be (sexually) interested in another man. So the player, taking over the role of the computer, has to prevent this date from happening... and maybe hook Jason up with someone more suitable.


The End of He-Man!

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Mr Creosote 2002
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 0/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

The Good Old Days' second birthday special - an Adventure walking along the fine line of cheesiness and geeky fan-ideas.

The main technical difference to all my other games is that I didn't use a full-blown sophisticated language anymore. Much too much fuss. Instead, I relied on TADS (Text Adventure Developement System), a free C++ like language specialized on IF. The main reason I chose TADS and not Inform or any of the other competitors is that TADS is very easy to learn. It's purely event-based. That means to program a game, all I had to do is define the objects, locations and persons and set routines how they interact with each other. The TADS engine connects it all then with the already great parser which comes with it. Of course I also added to and customized that one. But a big chunk of the work of a real game engine (which none of the older games have) didn't have to be made - I could concentrate on the contents of the game! The source code writte by me is over 2000 lines long. Then add even more for the engine and you get the picture how much work has been put into this.


The Entropy Cage

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Stormrose 2014
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Freeware
System: Interpreter

The interactive fiction community is split into two camps: Those that prefer the more traditional parser games (which mostly put a stronger emphasis on the interactive part) and those that like the hypertext ones (which mostly prefer the fiction part). So as always, a group of people cannot be small enough without quarrelling about how to do things. Some people go as far as outright avoiding games from a certain ‘faction’ or playing them just to criticise them for all the things they are not. The Entropy Cage mirrors this conflict in its story. It is hard to tell whether it is intentional or not, but anyways it is nice to find a game about the dogmatism of a hidden computerised society in an almost obscure online subculture.


The Feeble Files

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Adventure Soft 1997
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC

[Mr Creosote] The Feeble Files, the German version being called Floyd (which is the version we'll refer to at some points in the course of this review), was developed by Adventuresoft, which is primarily known for the Simon the Sorcerer games. Under the name of Horrorsoft, the same people also produced such popular games as Elvira - Mistress of the Dark or Waxworks.


The Forest of Doom

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Puffin Books 1983
Genre: RPG
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: Gamebook, C64

On planet Allansia, our hero travels across the Northern Borderlands without meeting a single soul. Until one night, he is wakened from his sleep only to witness the final words of a dying dwarf called Bigleg. His mission to take a legendary weapon of war to Gillibran, the king of dwarves, at the edge of Darkwood, failed. It has been stolen in an ambush. Without this weapon, the dwarf kingdom of Stonebridge is in danger from warmongering trolls. Bigleg promises our nameless hero great riches if he can find the war hammer again and bring it to its rightful owner. Then he dies right under our eyes.


The Fourth Protocol

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Hutchinson Computer Publishing 1985
Genre: Strategy, Adventure
Rating: 4/6
Licence: Commercial
System: C64

The Cold War... since you're reading this review of a mid-80s computer game, this probably isn't just something you learned from history books. It also filled another kind of book, though: for spy novels, it provided the perfect background. A very successful release in the genre was Frederick Forsyth's The Fourth Protocol. The basic plot: Evil communists have devised a plan to finally tip the balance in their favour. 'Plan Aurora', as it is called, involves smuggling a nuclear bomb into the UK and detonating it, making sure the blame goes to the USA, thus destabilizing the western alliance.


The Gene Machine – The Great British Adventure

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Divide By Zero / Vic Tokai 1996
Genre: Adventure
Rating: 3/6
Licence: Commercial
System: PC
19th century literature procuded many of the iconic figures which are still dominating public mindset even today. Who hasn't heard of Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jekyll, Sherlock Holmes or Captain Nemo? All these original stories being in public domain these days, they provide ample material for more or less free adaptions. Or at least as source of inspiration. Or as the butt of jokes.


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