Tag Archives: Point-and-click

Best of 2012 #6: The Walking Dead

The Walking DeadIt’s going to be hard to come up with much to say about this given how recently I spent a few hundred words gushing about how well done The Walking Dead was, but I’ll do my best.

The best evidence of how effective the story here was the fact that I’m still thinking about it. Daring stuff compared to the cliched nonsense that passes for in-game plots most of the time. I’ve spent hours poring over flowcharts about what might have been, had I been nicer to this person or saved that one instead. It feels cheap to boil it down to the numbers like that, but it’s an outlet when the wait for the follow-up series. We are getting a second season, right?

In all seriousness, I would refer you to the recent post for my thoughts on the game, because they’re so recent that my opinion hasn’t changed. The Walking Dead represents Telltale finally fulfilling the promise that it had only threatened to before, despite the quality of the licences it had to work with.

I wouldn’t go as far as some in praising it as it has some annoying niggles and occasionally not that much game, but it’s going to live on forever more as evidence that a game’s story can make you cry.

The Walking Dead

It always seems to happen this time of year. There I am, happily whittling down my annual game of the year list, and then something comes along and throws it all off. Usually it’s a Christmas present or an acquisition in the new year sales that now seem to start at some point in mid-December, but occasionally it’s a game I overlooked that is suddenly being showered with accolades. I’d heard good things about Telltale Games‘ adaptation of The Walking Dead, but with its previous adventures frequently falling short of the promise of the subject matter – some being significantly better than others – I was content to wait for the inevitable Steam sale appearance.

The Walking Dead

The recent plaudits pushed that schedule forward, however, and I’ve been playing through an episode at a time over the last few days – as with watching a TV series on DVD, I find that to be a much more agreeable way to experience an episodic story.

It’s strange, because all those point-and-click classics are known for enjoyably obtuse puzzling and a great sense of humour, and this doesn’t really have either. There are puzzles and there are funny bits, sure, but neither is the main impetus behind progression. This is one of the great modern examples of pure interactive storytelling, as if a point-and-click adventure got spliced with one of those visual novels that occasionally makes it over from Japan. Continue reading The Walking Dead

Monkey Island: Not-so Special Edition

Seriously, I feel like some kind of traitor by posting an opinion like this, as someone who owns every SCUMM game and would give the world for legitimate DS and/or iPhone versions, but The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition has left me quite disappointed. It’s not entirely the fault of the new version but rather the fact that the flaws of the original seem magnified with the shiny new presentation and without the full benefit of nostalgia.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

It’s not bad, though. The voice acting is excellent, bringing great delivery to the old jokes and with some great touches, like the way selecting the wrong riposte during an insult swordfight will result in a different delivery to if it was correct; the new background art is superb, with some nice enhancements to familiar environments – I particularly liked the ships docked behind the previously uninhabited Scumm Bar, for example (see above); and it even controls acceptably with the analogue stick, only becoming mildly annoying during certain sequences that involve time-sensitive manipulation of certain corrosive materials between receptacles.

I also love how you can switch between the old and new versions completely seamlessly, which is a feature that should be in more retro remakes. In fairness, I suppose having to keep the versions in sync was limiting in what could be done to update things, and it is quite technically impressive – I assume that the Special Edition is some kind of new ‘skin’ running on top of the emulated classic version. It shows when you occasionally get overlapping dialogue, presumably when a line runs out of time to run without bringing the two versions out of sync. On a similar note, it’s also a shame that you can’t play the old game with voice acting, but it seems like that’s more of a technical limitation than anything else.

But as nice as it is to see the original Monkey Island looking fresh, I’m not the biggest fan of the new art style. I thought that just flicking between the two versions on the close-up character portraits – compare this and this – shows the new style as really soulless, particularly when there are existing sources of inspiration to use when taking the Monkey Island series in a more cartoony direction.

All this makes me wonder if it really justifies the ‘Special Edition’ tag. The voice acting is the only absolute improvement, there’s no new content whatsoever, and the flaws of the original – my main beef is the to-ing and fro-ing when you’re going from place to place, in particular the arduous walk from the town on Melee Island to the overworld map, which you’ll have to do several times – are still there. If this was a DVD special edition, it would be from the days when ‘interactive menus’ counted as a bonus feature.

Even so, it’s still Monkey Island and I’ve already finished it twice in the five days it’s been out. It’s still very funny, only helped by the voicework, and I’ll be first in line for Monkey Island 2: Special Edition, if only because it’ll be a nice experience to play one that I haven’t finished several times before with the new look.

And, while we’re on the subject, how about those DS and iPhone versions?