Contrast Review

Long setups that never actually result in anything meaningful are a trademark of the artist who creates while having nothing to say; everything is designed so as to suggest a deeper meaning, but nothing ends up delivering on that promise as you’re led deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until things have become so complicated that any kind of sane-sounding explanation becomes impossible. That’s not to say that the end result is necessarily bad, but it’s most definitely not art despite the artist’s desperate attempts to make it so. This is Contrast in a nutshell, a game that spends several hours engrossing you in a time period filled not only with jazzy music and organized crime, but also two parallel worlds that are largely unaware of one another. While the latter is the more interesting element of the two, only the former lives up to its potential and makes the game worth recommending thanks to the dual worlds and the rules/purpose behind them being self-contradictory or otherwise left shrouded in mystery. Read more →

Contrast Screenshots

Not so long ago, I was involved in a small internet argument about the importance of stories in games. One thing many seemed able to agree on was that either gameplay or story could hold a game on its own, though ideally a game would excel at both. Contrast got me thinking about that, because it has interesting elements of both that each happen to be flawed in one way or another. The shadow mechanic is unlike anything I’ve seen before, but you’re all too often forced out of the shadow world unexpectedly to the point where certain platforming sections that take place in the shadows are needlessly difficult. The story has all the ingredients of an intriguing story, as well, but the plot threads never coalesce into anything coherent or meaningful because the rules of the world(s) and the role/abilities of inexplicably mute main character Dawn are never explained well enough to account for all of the weirdness you encounter. The nonsensical plot is made up for somewhat by the beautifully noir atmosphere, though, so this is one of those games like Blood Knights that can be considered objectively bad, but that’s nevertheless charming enough to be worth a look despite that badness. Read more →

Ankh – Anniversary Edition Review

For the longest time, only Ankh 2 and 3 were available as digital releases and you had to find the original game secondhand on this site or that site, which turned out to be weirdly frustrating due to the game’s relative obscurity and the rarely-used “reverse the curse” line being used in some listings and not others. Needless so say, I kept kicking the can down the road so that I wouldn’t have to deal with untangling all of that. I was interested in the series, of course, being a fan of later Deck13 games and having an interest in their earlier stuff, but only if I could start from the very beginning without having to worry about accidentally ordering the wrong game. Then out of nowhere the developers released the digital Anniversary Edition of the original Ankh, which isn’t a remake so much as the normal game with support for HD resolutions. My interest was piqued, but I convinced myself that there was a reason the Ankh games received so little attention. Just days later, it showed up in a bundle for a price too good to pass up and I couldn’t help but finally pull the trigger. As it turns out, the original Ankh is an amazing game. It suffers from a few shortfalls like the occasional crash/bug and the beginning being a bit overwhelming, but it’s also filled with the kind of unabashed weirdness that seems to have fallen out of fashion since Rare’s heyday. Read more →

Ankh – Anniversary Edition Screenshots

While I still consider myself fairly new to point-and-click adventure games, I reviewed The Longest Journey—my gateway drug into the genre—a little over three years ago. Since then, I’ve played somewhere between 10-15 such games of varying quality, but never really found anything that captured the same magical feeling of playing TLJ for the first time. That’s not to knock titles like Memoria or The Last Express, of course; those games and many of the others I’ve reviewed positively are brilliant, but they also tend to be a bit on the heavier side. That’s why something lighthearted and inspired by classics in the genre like Ankh was so entertaining to play, really. Its willingness to break the fourth wall and center progression around all types of miscellaneous absurdity is weirdly refreshing, and it serves as a reminder of why I’ve come to enjoy the genre so much. Read more →

Save files: Ankh

I was knocked out of my normal sleep schedule recently, so I figure I’ll post some saves for the next game I’m going to review today, screenshots tomorrow, then the actual review itself the day after that. Otherwise a whole laundry list of spelling and miscellaneous grammatical errors become likely, and Ankh deserves better than that; this is one of Deck13’s earliest games, and it’s filled with the same kind of lovable weirdness that makes games like Venetica so worth it. It’s a shame the game is so rare, with it only seeming to be available secondhand or in the criminally overlooked Ankh – Anniversary Edition (which supports higher resolutions) available on Steam. These saves were made on the latter, though I confirmed that they work on the original game, as well. Read more →

Puzzle Quest Review

I picked up Puzzle Quest and its sequel quite awhile back, but never got around to trying it until I saw a comedy video about it. That’s when I knew I needed to try it. Unfortunately, it really didn’t live up to my expectations, and I can’t help but wonder if the near-universal praise for it has something to do with the match-3 concept being more interesting back in 2007 than it is now that a million mobile games have exhausted it (many of which do it better than this game, in my opinion). Coming at this game without any nostalgia, I was blown away by just how shallow it was despite all of its complexities, with the vast majority of the game coming down to the same flawed matching system and feeling same-ish no matter what items and special attacks you have. That’s to say nothing of its non-story or the fact that the last third of the game is a giant, seemingly unending fetch quest, either. It’s just not anywhere near as enjoyable as its praise led me to believe. Read more →

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