Sunday, 13 March 2011

Review of Jane Jensen's Gray Matter

Fans of the Gabriel Knight series have been waiting for over a decade for the next instalment in the franchise. unfortunately, that has not yet come to pass, but a new project from creator Jane Jensen (I say new, it has also been in development for around eight years) has just been released on PC and Xbox 360, and it shares many of the same elements that made the Gabriel Knight games so beloved.

In my full review at, I delve deeper into the supernatural mystery that delves into the history of Oxford and the world of Magic. The game mechanics may be a bit hit or miss and the console conversion nowhere near perfect, but the game will reward the persistent adventurer and long-time fans of the genre will find plenty here to appreciate. So go on, read the review and see if it has been worth the wait.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

More Casual Adventure Games - Back Once Again

Once again its that time of the month when website put up their latest monthly Casual Adventure Game round-up. Covering the good and the bad of the past month when it comes to lite Adventure Games available via the internet, several contributors pass their judgement over a selection of titles.

This month I took a look at the spooky and mysterious Maestro: Music of Death. Set in Victorian Paris , the game concerns a troubling epidemic where locals are aging far too quickly and dying suddenly. As the chief Investigator, you will follow the clues to try and find the truth behind the illness. Read my review here.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Game That Made Me Appreciate Action/Adventure Titles - Beyond Good & Evil

As the pure Graphic Adventure game started to decline in profitability and popularity, I was always wary of Action/Adventure titles. Games like Tomb Raider flooded the market and replaced the traditional Adventure games that had been so successful - the driving force behind the growth of PC Gaming. But now gamers wanted more action, they wanted 3D graphics. Less emphasis was put on story and character development - and I couldn't make the transition to Action/Adventures. I didn't find them interesting or involving. I began to fear good videogame writing was only present in a Graphic Adventure.

But then in 2003, Adventuring forums were abuzz with talk of a new game, and Action/Adventure hybrid - Beyond Good & Evil. Created by Rayman mastermind Michel Ancel, I was far from convinced by his back catalogue. I couldn't imagine the title having any real depth as I never appreciated the charms of Rayman - at least not until the Raving Rabbids got in on the act with him.

But real hardcore Adventurers were raving about this title. Players who would never normally touch action sequences with a barge pole were extolling its virtues. I however, remained unconvinced. I had already had some bad experiences with titles that were Action/Adventures, but had been recommended by pure Adventure gamers. For example, Outcast by Infogrames. In that game I certainly appreciated the music, design and story that it presented, but I loathed the gameplay and controls. I feel bad as I never gave the game a proper chance - I had my preconceptions and as soon as I met with the niggly navigation and often-unforgiving combat, I made my judgement. I wouldn't persevere. And that - as they say - was that.

Flash forward to summer 2004. With an ageing PC I was resorting to the PlayStation 2 for the majority of my gaming needs. Lacking any great single-player titles I hadn't tried already, I thought of Beyond Good & Evil. Could I put my reservations aside and give it a real opportunity to win me over. I tentatively took the plunge.

And how my fears were proved wrong. The game was more original and compelling than any point-and-click game of the time. The ideas and subject matter the game explored were mature and exciting, the game mechanics innovative and genre-defying. This game definitely deserved gamers' time.

But it was sadly unsuccessful at retail. Gushing gamers and critics with loving reviews couldn't help - the game suffered from poor marketing and a crowded release slot and never reached its full potential. Revered by those who did play it, it became a forgotten classic.

Until now. A High Definition remake has just hit Xbox LIVE, opening the game up to a whole new audience. It needs to be played to understand, but to get a better I dea why it is so good, read my full review here. I just hope that this time around, more people take a chance, like I did, and sample its delights.