Featured Article: Ray's E3 Report 2012 - Part 2 of 3
Ray Ivey continues his account of the goings-on at E3 2012
Classic Point-and-Click Adventuring!
Prolific adventure game publishers Daedalic Games have two upcoming adventures, and Hauke Schweer sat down to show them to me.
The Dark Eye / Chains of Satinav
June 22, 2012
Based on one of Europe’s most popular table top roleplaying systems, The Dark Eye/ Chains of Satinav is an ambitious new point-and-click adventure game.
The graphics, which are inspired by the table top game’s rule books, are simply gorgeous. They remind me of the watercolor/storybook style of Final Fantasy IX, and for your reference, that is a very good thing. Additionally, the hand-painted look of the environment is nicely accented by small animated details (like, charmingly, the breathing of a sleeping pig!).
The main character of Geron is a young bird trapper who has a collision with destiny after an audience with the king. His quest will take him all over the Aventuria.
All of the dialog in the game is voiced. Unfortunately, as in the last game of theirs I played, A New Beginning, the voice actors are German. And, as in A New Beginning, it shows.
The interface seems solid, with the admirable “spacebar reveals all the hotspots on the screen” feature, always a plus in a third-person game like this.
Magic will figure into solving some of the inventory- and environment-based puzzles.
While the player has choices to make while engaging in dialog with other characters, his choices have no effect on the gameplay and the story. Disappointing. Also, as in A New Beginning¸ some of the dialog just seems… odd. Like it wasn’t well translated.
I like: Those gorgeous graphics. They help create a world I want to spend time in. Also, having a solid, decades-long roleplaying IP like The Dark Eye behind it seems promising. However…
I’m concerned: That creative team repeated some of the same mistakes that made A New Beginning such a frustrating mixed bag.
On a much lighter note, Daedalic is also working on a humorous adventure called Deponia. It’s a comic adventure from the creators of the Edna and Harvey series.
It’s got a fun, cartoon, colorful look. The game’s title refers to a planet that is so filled with junk, your character (“Rufus”) is desperate to escape it to a happier planet called Euphoria. His main ally in this endeavor is his ex-girlfriend.
As with The Dark Eye, the interface seems very solid. It even features choices for the inventory systems. You also have the choice to play through or skip the game’s tutorial. The game also has a selection of minigames, which are also skippable if they aren’t your cup of tea. [Choice is GOOD!].
To give you an idea of the offbeat comic nature of the game: Rufus is so dirty that his toothbrush comes to life to escape his dinginess. No, I didn’t understand that, either.
He’s so dirty . . . his toothbrush comes to life (struggling to find the logic there…)
The puzzles are inventory-based in this third-party game. I’m sure Deponia is a title we’ll want to keep a close eye on.
Tad Williams Online!
Calling all Tad Williams fans. If, like me, you managed to make it through all 3,300 pages of his four volume cyber fantasy masterpiece Otherland, you may be interested to know that this fascinating IP is becoming a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game!
I got to speak to Anthony Guzzardo of Gamigo, the company producing and developing the game.
Otherland will take place sometime after the events of the concluding volume of the book series. It’ll be free to play, and you’ll start the game as a fairly anonymous character trapped in a Virtual Reality world. Your mission is to sort out its mysteries.
There will be four starting classes: Assassin, Rage, Energizer and Gunner (Mr. Guzzardo emphasized that these class names are subject to change).
You’ll begin the game in one of three launch “lands:” Lambda Mall. It’s the social and character hub of the game. Visiting various stores with appropriate titles like “Metamorph” or “Class,” you’ll be able to design your character’s appearance and play style.
The game will be free-to-play, so micro transaction opportunities will abound. Example: Redesigning your character.
One of the most interesting areas of Lamdba Mall will be Mr. J’s Club, which will be a social area and quest hub. If you can figure out how to get into the club’s “Hacker Zone” you can delve into the game’s PvP portion.
In addition to Lambda Mall, the game will launch with 8 Squared Land, which looks like a huge, wooded chessboard. You’re caught between the two factions of the huge game that is in progress.
Finally, there’s the Asian-themed 5 Isle. It’s based on the Chinese elements, and it’s a place where you can investigate the mysteries of the origins of Otherland.
Guzzardo told me that combat in Otherland will more action-oriented than in traditional MMORPGs.
Design-wise, the game has fun with the concept that the environments are “virtual.” In places you see random bits of code (like in shallow water) and even wire frames as incomplete structural elements.
PvP in Otherland may include the concept hacking – rival clans stealing your group’s IP address so they can invade! The game will also include minigames that will be “fun to play with your friends.”
I Like: The idea of a game based on Otherland, the freedom, and the fun “meta” feeling of playing in a virtual VIRTUAL world.
I’m Concerned: It looks awfully rough for an MMO scheduled for launch this year. Plus, isn’t the Free-to-Play MMORPG market getting a Tad crowded?
More Free-to-Play From Gamigo
Free-to-Play Sandbox MMO
Gamigo was also showing a rowdy game called Grimlands, billed as a “Free-to-play sandbox MMO.” It’ll be characterized by tons of character and gameplay freedom and no set classes. Players can design their classes by focusing on the particular skills they want to develop. The system sounds similar to that employed by the recent Elder Scrolls games: Improve a skill by using it.
The game will feature 25 highly customizable weapons.
I like: The game looks very pretty, and could appeal to the crowd who enjoyed Rage and Fallout: New Vegas.
I’m concerned: That, like me, potential players might not get quite exactly what the game is. Is a PvP action game? A PVE MMO? Both? I wasn’t quite sure.
For Those of You With Too Much Money
You might be interested in the gimmicky new Spheero Gaming Ball. It’s basically a simple robot ball that you can control from your smart phone or pad. The idea is that you could race yours against a friend’s, put it through an obstacle course, frighten your pets, etc.
The big problem? It costs $129. That’s not a misprint. I played with it for about five minutes, and it was fun, but it was nothing approaching $129 fun. No way. I wonder who they think their customers are.
For the record, you can also reverse the controls, and use the ball as a game controller for your smart phone or pad. The examples I was shown of this looked primitive and uninteresting. The developers hope the ball will soon be supporting lots of games (I’m not holding my breath).
Finally, I could conceivably understand the crazy price tag if the ball was very very sexy. It could fit into a sort of “Sharper Image” niche. But the sad fact is, the ball is cheap-looking and not particularly attractive.
I like: The general concept.
I’m concerned: How these dudes will pay their rent when this overpriced toy tanks.
Spheero Robotic Ball