Opinions and reviews Major League Baseball 2K12 – Nintendo Wii
To the sharp tactical strategy formula are meaningful. There’s also a new race of characters – centaurs, sort of – and two story lines based on two main point-of-view characters. They’re not cheap, by the mega-cheap standards of mobile gaming, but these long-lasting and solidly replayable RPG adventures provide more than enough richness and value to justify the entry fee. But one warning: even though the second game may look like a better-value offer – a newer game with additional features for the same price – the continuity between the two stories is so strong that you really must play the first game first. David PriceHardcore adventure gamers – many of whom backed the project on Kickstarter – were disappointed by how much it seems to pander to the mainstream market.
The puzzles are mostly easy (although trickier fare is promised in the second act) and you can play through in a few hours. There’s also no ‘look at’ command or indeed anything beyond an all-purpose ‘interact with’: the interface is far simpler than those in Monkey Island and its 90s ilk. The suspicion was raised in PC gaming circles that these decisions had been made with touchscreens and mobile gamers in mind. But I, and others, adore its heart-stopping visual loveliness, its gentle but subtle story (which allows you to switch at will between two parallel coming-of-age tales), its humour – including a gloriously immature raft of jokes about the word ‘stool’ – its high-calibre voice acting and music… and the fact that you probably won’t have to resort to online walkthroughs in order to solve any of the puzzles. David PriceA head-scratcher par excellence, this one. While some have complained that it’s a brief experience – and brainiacs will no doubt buzz through in a couple of hours – we’ve only just finished the second of Device 6’s five chapters, and can confirm that the puzzles in this primarily text-based adventure are hard if you’re not keenly observant and willing to note down everything you see. Use of a pen and paper comes highly recommended.
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The look is unique: antiquarian and weirdly restrained, with judicious use of black-and-white photos and illustrations to supplement the words. The audio is richly atmospheric (not to mention key to solving the puzzles). And clever use of touchscreen controls and unconventional layouts – the sentences snaking round the screen – helps make this an experience like no other. David PriceI’m one of those poor souls (forgive the pun) who never played the original Grim Fandango on PC, but I was always intrigued by the premise.
After playing the remastered version for iPad, I’m happy to report that the game’s hype is fully deserved. Grim Fandango is a neo-noir mystery set in the Land of the Dead. Fans of classic black-and-white films will appreciate the witty dialogue, art deco style and slithering jazz soundtrack, but it’s also a love letter to Mexican folklore: the characters’ design, including protagonist Manny Calavera, are heavily influenced by calaca figures.
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It’s a point-and-click adventure that involves talking, thinking and problem solving; this isn’t a game that features a lot of gunplay or action sequences. But the cut-scenes and puzzles help move along the plot, which centres around Manny uncovering corruption in the Department of Death, and then starting a journey through the underworld that is both bizarre and hilarious.
The four-chapter story takes hours to explore and the artistic aesthetic is as central to the game as the writing (which is continually amusing). Immerse yourself in this strange, funny and exceptionally enthralling world, and pray that Tim Schafer makes another.
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Chris HoltYour job is to sift through hundreds of unorganised video clips; fortunately these have been transcribed so you can search for words using a free-input search box. When you start the game, the first search term has already been typed in for you: MURDER. There are few other instructions, which means solving this mystery is entirely up to your detective skills.
The script is well-written, unsettlingly realistic, and dark. And no two people will have the same experience playing Her Story: the experience depends on how you search, in what order you watch the tapes, how many tapes you watch, and what conclusions you want to draw. Sarah Jacobsson PurewalThis classic robotic point-and-click adventure offers a unique experience with more heart than the average tin man. Each room has a puzzle for you to solve, moving you forward as you try to find your ladyfriend and thwart a dastardly plot by some robo-bullies. You’ll scan environments for items to interact with, combine objects in your inventory and solve a variety of brain-teasers.
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Machinarium manages to feel both electronic and organic. The hand-painted visuals feel both cartoony and believable, and the soundtrack blends ambient electronica, jazz and dubstep.
Rarely has a game felt so thematically and aesthetically unified. Jason TocciPoor Ruth has a tough existence.
Startup Major League Baseball 2K12 – Nintendo Wii
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She might live in an idyllic Norwegian fjord, but making ends meet requires producing dairy products to be sold in the nearest town, which is more than three hours away. And a nasty storm has scattered Ruth’s tools, meaning she must innovate to make her butter and cheese today. And a massive golden spaceship has just stolen all her cows. If you’re thinking one of those things isn’t quite like the others, congratulations. But that’s how this one goes – no sooner have you masterfully made some cheese in this old-school point-and-click adventure than you find yourself leaping aboard an alien craft. Only then does Ruth’s destiny become clear. Which we won’t spoil here, but we will say that across its short length of a few hours, Milkmaid of the Milky Way is an entertaining adventure, with cleverly designed puzzles and (milk) buckets of charm. Craig GrannellYou’re a border guard in a fictional state, vetting the people trying to get into the country.
You do this by asking questions, combing through their paperwork and looking for inconsistencies, but ultimately the decision to allow them in or not is up to you. Big red stamp or big green stamp? Approve or deny? Be warned, however, that choice is an illusion: every decision you make is double-checked. Wave through someone with a hooky passport because their story moved you, and the little printer in your booth will curl out an official reprimand and (for repeat offences) a fine. A fine which may mean you can’t afford to heat your home, or give a member of your family the medicine they need. You get paid (very badly) based on the number of applicants processed in the time allowed, and the increasingly complex immigration rules (which change, capriciously, every day) are a huge source of anxiety.
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Before long, obvious discrepancies become a relief: this bloke’s passport’s expired, brilliant, red stamp, get out of here, where’s the next one. The human stories start off as a factor in your verdicts, then become a distraction, then are tuned out entirely. For a game about petty inhumanity, Papers, Please is surprisingly enjoyable – and it’s also wonderfully subtle and insightful.
If you want to know what games are capable of as a medium, you need to give this a try. David PricePhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is a text-adventure game that Capcom originally published for the Nintendo 3DS, but has now made its way to iOS devices. Its brilliantly animated and totally ridiculous world provides an uncommon iOS experience.
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You play as lawyers Athena Cykes and Phoenix Wright as they seek to defend Juniper Woods, a shy sunflower-hat-wearing girl who has been accused of bombing a courtroom. But bear in mind that the Ace Attorney games have as much to do with actual lawyering as the WWE has to do with actual wrestling.
Rather, you get a mixture of text-heavy exposition (dominating the early stages of the game, but thankfully reduced later on) and a series of mini-puzzles. In order to approximate things like cross examining witnesses and forming arguments, Dual Destinies lets you present evidence (through careful interpretation of the witness’s statements) to prove that they’re lying. It’s cool to think how Ace Attorney has translated some of the finer points of courtroom lawyering – interrogations, pointing out inconsistencies, making it known when someone has perjured themselves – and made them fun. The game offers hours upon hours of cases to solve, with plenty of weird twists and challenging puzzles.
Chris HoltThe Silent Age is a point-and-tap adventure game that takes place in two different eras: your character’s present-day 1972, and a forty-year leap to the eerie, post-apocalyptic 2012. You play as an unassuming janitor at a large corporation who stumbles upon a time-traveller from the future; the time-traveller asks you to warn him about this meeting… and then dies, leaving you with a pocket-sized time-travel machine and a mystery to solve. While many point-and-tap adventure games can feel overly relaxed, The Silent Age expertly weaves an intriguing storyline around its puzzles – room-escape-type puzzles, quite often, which you solve using a combination of your time machine and various objects you find in the environment – to give you a sense of urgency.
It’s also visually gorgeous. The bright, vibrant colours of the game’s 1972 contrast perfectly with the dystopian, muted greys and greens of 2012.Finally, the writing is excellent, from the witty comments ma
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