Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Game 21: Police Quest 2 - On the Trail of a Killer

Sonny Bonds Journal Entry 2: "We’re gonna catch this bastard again! I can feel it! Keith and I have been following Bains’ trail all afternoon, from the jail to the mall, to Cotton Cove, and then onto the airport. We’re always one step behind him, but it’s only a matter of time now. I’ve got so much evidence on the guy, picked up from the scene at Cotton Cove, where we unfortunately discovered the jailer’s body in the river. I’ve even found the murder weapon at the airport, and now know that Bains faked flying to Houston and instead hired a car. I’ve got a good feeling that we’ll catch up with him tomorrow, but since I have to wait for all the evidence to be assessed, I’m getting ready to spend the night with Marie. I deserve a few hours out after all that excitement today!”


Be advised that it took me two and a half hours to leave the station and get in my car!

It was probably pretty clear from my first gameplay post that the first couple of hours of Police Quest 2 rubbed me up the wrong way. I was really struggling, and I didn’t feel like all the trouble was due to my own failure. I was not yet certain whether the game was deeply flawed or whether I’d just had a session where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The many comments of condolence and agreement that came through during the 24 hours after my post at least told me that I wasn’t alone, but I was willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt, and kick on with an open mind. I’m very happy to report that the game has become much more enjoyable since I finally made my way out of the station, and my progress has been fairly consistent if not always filled with confidence.


I'd be very surprised if Keith's lungs make it to Police Quest 3

My last post finished with Keith and I heading to the jail that Bains escaped from, hoping to find some clue as to where he might have gone. The jailer there was very concerned for his colleague Luis Pate, who Bains had kidnapped on his way out, and he also offered up the now-fugitive’s file. Inside I found another mugshot, this time showing Bains with a dodgy looking mullet, which must be the photo Captain Hall was wanting me to get my hands on. With no other clues apparent, I left the jail and hopped back in the car with Keith, intending to return the photo to the station and hopefully to receive further orders.


Cut the small talk...give me the damn file!

We didn’t get very far, as the radio called in to say the correctional officer’s vehicle had been discovered at Oak Tree Mall. We put the pedal to the metal and headed straight over there, prepared for action. We didn’t get any, but it did give me an opportunity to examine the car, looking for any evidence that could be used against Bains. I didn’t uncover anything, but a rather large woman at the site claimed her car was now missing. She couldn’t even remember her full license plate number, which wasn’t very helpful, but I did get down that it was a black 1986 compact Chevy station wagon. All we could do was hop back into the car to report our findings.


I'm sure you can remember how to get to McDonalds

Thankfully another call came through for assistance, this time requesting we go straight to Cotton Cove. On arrival we found an excited young jogger, claiming she’d found blood and drag marks down by the river. I then proceeded to follow the manual’s instructions on how to handle a homicide investigation, very much in the same way I did throughout Police Quest 1. I got as much information out of the girl as I could, drew and loaded my gun, then walked down the river to the location she’d given me. Despite being totally ready for it, I was stunned when Bains jumped out of the bushes and started shooting at me. I eventually came to my senses and fired at him, but by that stage it was too late. Bains had taken me down, and it was time to restore.


Well this restore's for you, LOSER!!!

My next attempt went much better, but I merely scared the bastard away rather than hitting the target. Moments later the black station wagon the woman had described at the mall came flying by with Bains at the wheel. It was all pretty cinematic stuff, and suddenly all the tediousness and struggle of the first session was forgotten. It was time to check out the crime scene! I opened my field kit and began collecting evidence. I took photos of the scene, took a sample of the blood, and took a plaster cast of the footprints. With all that down, I went to head back to the car, but ran into the police diver on the way. He told me he didn’t like to dive alone, but that there was no-one else available to do it. I suddenly remembered the diving certification in my wallet!


Seriously, is there any doubt who did this?

Offering my services, I quickly found myself in the back of the diver’s van, choosing gear to wear. I put on fins, a wetsuit, a mask, a belt, and then stared at the four oxygen tanks wondering which one I was supposed to choose. There was nothing in the manual about scuba diving, so I just had to take a guess. I chose tank 1, put it on, and made my way over to the river. I have no idea whether this was the most ideal tank to use or even if there’s a difference between any of them, but since I made it through the scene I can only assume I didn’t do the wrong thing. I did run out of air and die once, but I simply did everything quicker on my second attempt.


CAPs to anyone that can tell me whether it mattered what tank I chose.

The underwater scene involved swimming around and examining the items on the riverbed below me. It was mostly rubbish, but I did discover the jailer’s badge, which I planned to hand into evidence later. Eventually I made the ghastly discovery I’d been expecting, finding the body wedged between some rocks. The other diver and I grabbed hold of it and took it up to the surface and out. On further investigation I found a “bullet hole in the head and superficial cuts and scratches on the throat”, and since I didn’t seem to be able to collect any further evidence, I got changed and went back to the car, once again planning to go back to the station to hand evidence.


A scuba diving scene was an unexpected but pleasant surprise

As with the last three times I’d planned to go to the station, the radio kicked in to tell me about yet another scene I needed to investigate. The black station wagon had been spotted somewhere near the airport! I made the decision to pay a quick visit to the station to hand in all the evidence I’d acquired, worried that I might miss out on any findings that came from it if I continued to hold onto it. I gained a bunch of points for it, and then rushed over to the airport on Bains' trail. I quickly located the stolen car in the carpark, and began investigating the interior for clues. I spent a long time looking, but I couldn’t find anything in the vehicle. I still feel like I missed something here, but quickly forgot about it as I realised I could enter the airport. Hopefully I don’t regret not looking harder later in the game!


My car has more criminal evidence than this one!

Outside the airport I found a woman selling flowers. She offered single roses, a bouquet of carnations, or a pot plant. I tried purchasing each of them and received the same amount of points, so I went with the rose, thinking I might need it later with Marie. Once inside the airport, the mugshot of Bains became very useful indeed. I walked around to each person I could find, showed them my badge to get their attention, then showed them the mugshot to see if they’d seen the fugitive anywhere. One of the ticket agents responded in the affirmative, and I got out of them that he’d bought a ticket to Houston. Unfortunately his flight had left twenty minutes ago, but I decided to purchase tickets for Keith and I to follow in his footsteps.


He should be!

I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet to purchase the tickets, but after a quick call to Captain Hall by Keith, we were ready to board. I actually struggled to find the gate to board the plane, and at one point found myself in an empty bathroom, wondering why it was there in the first place. It was unusual for a Sierra game to have screens with no purpose, but since I couldn’t find anything in any of the cubicles apart from some dodgy graffiti, I moved on. Eventually I found my way to the gate, and after a quick chat with the waiting Larry Laffer, boarded the flight to Houston. I should point out that I noticed a very dodgy looking man at the bottom of the escalators before boarding, who was described as “looking unusually scruffy for a business man”, but didn’t seem to be able to interrogate him.


Seen it...was alright!

So there Keith and I were, seated on a plane to Houston, wondering how we were going to track Bains down once we reached our destination, when something unexpected happened. The flight attendant informed me that Captain Hall had called to report that Bains had not arrived on the previous flight to Houston, so was still somewhere in Lytton. Slightly confused, I found myself back in the airport, wondering whether that was supposed to happen, or whether I’d done something wrong. I suddenly thought about the scruffy looking business man, wondering whether that had actually been Bains in disguise. I spent some more time interrogating him until I was satisfied he was a red herring, before moving onto others in the vicinity.


We better bloody get a refund!

The salesman at the car hire outlet recognised my photo of Bains, and I soon got out of him that he’d rented a 1988 green CMG sedan, with license plate #C43256. This seemed to be all I needed to leave the airport and report my findings, but curiosity led me back to the men’s toilets to see if I could discover its purpose. I’m very glad for this curiosity, as a short while later I discovered the murder weapon, hidden in the top of one of the toilets. I grabbed it, and made my way straight to the station to hand it in as evidence. Feeling pretty satisfied with my efforts, I waltzed into the Homicide department, hoping to get some sort of praise from the captain. I got none, but instead I was told to go home as I’d done enough for the day.


Strangely I don't have any gloves in my field kit, meaning I've probably added my own prints to the murder weapon.

Hopping into my private vehicle brought up a message telling me that I spent “a boring and restless evening, wondering why I never called Marie for a date”. I restored back to the office, wondering if I might actually be able to call Marie from my desk phone. I rang the operator and asked for the number of Marie Wilkans, stoked when she gave it to me! I then called Marie and had a very brief conversation, resulting in her asking me to meet her at Arnie’s when I get off work. Well that sure beats a lonely evening at home, and I have to wonder what the consequences of not calling Marie actually would be. A dead end or just less points? Regardless, with my first work day over and a hundred points on the board, this seemed like a good place to stop. I’m actually quite keen to see what my night with Marie brings, not to mention day two on the job, which is not something I expected to feel after the disastrous first session. And I've only followed manual procedures once!


Sonny's employment made getting the ladies easy.

Session Time: 3 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've recently written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


50 comments:

  1. I think the air tanks are randomly full/empty. You're supposed to look at them to see how full the gauge is, then pick the fullest one.

    Looks like you lucked onto a full one on your first guess.

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    1. Yes, I think "check air" worked for me. One of the tanks has 5 or 6 times the air of the others.

      I don't know if the following will be needed later, so here are a few things I did that you apparently skipped (and for all I know they may be just for points):

      Hint 1: Ng gur wnvy, qb lbh xabj lbh pna gnyx gb fbzrbar ryfr nobhg gur bssvpre'f xvqanccvat?
      Hint 2: Vafvqr gur pne ng gur nvecbeg, pna lbh guvax bs NAL pbzzba hfr cbyvfurq fhesnpr jurer lbh pna hfhnyyl svaq svatrecevagf? (Vg qbrfa'g arprffnevyl arrq gb fubj hc va gur tencuvp)

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    2. Other optional bits of evidence you appear to have missed:

      Spoiler 1: Lbh pna gnxr svatre cevagf sebz gur tybir pbzcnegzrag bs gur pne ng gur Bnx Gerr Znyy.
      Spoiler 2: Lbh pna nyfb svaq gur xavsr Onvaf hfrq ng gur evire obggbz.

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    3. Wow, I got the first one, but I'm surprised I missed the second. I thought I had been thorough. I like the amount of optional things to discover in this game, it seems to be comparatively higher than others and it makes the scoring game more fun.

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    4. Aha! I guess I would have tried checking the gauge if I'd run into trouble. 5 point to TBD!

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    5. I've not yet read all the hints and spoilers people have left, but it really makes me realise how much I've missed. I've had that feeling pretty much the whole way through the game. In fact, I'd love to know what I was supposed to find in that black station wagon. If it was optional evidence, can someone tell me without ROT13 encryption?

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    6. There's a fingerprint on the glovebox. You have to make sure you dust it and take the print before you open it, or it's lost (too smudged).

      Also on the subject of the police diver: they're either really understaffed or really incompetent.

      1. Why would you take three empty tanks with you? Surely you'd make sure the ones in the van were all full, and leave the empties behind to be refilled?

      2. Why didn't he have a buddy with him? If he didn't want to dive alone, then surely he would have contacted someone to meet him there, or called/radioed ahead to check if there was someone at the scene who was appropriately trained?

      It kinda felt like they'd decided to put in the police diver, and then had to shoehorn a reason why Det. Bonds would have to take part. (and don't get me started on the wedged body hidden away by Bains.

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    7. Wait... just thought that the fingerprint might have been in the other car (the first one). Can't remember now.

      There might not have been anything in the black station wagon, I think it's just there so you have to visit the airport.

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    8. Yes Andy, the glove box print was from the other car. The black wagon also produces a print that you can lift off the rear mirror. I was about to give up when I decided to try the mirror - voilá!

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    9. Lifting prints off a glove box seems less plausible. Textured surfaces are notoriously hard to get prints from. Personal experience speaking here, my car interior is textured surfaces everywhere, and not a single print could be found. First time I was ever exposed to dusting for prints in real life... they make it look so easy on TV and games.

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  2. Oh and I agree that the game improved a lot. Once the bullets start flying and the corpses begin turning up we're in familiar PQ territory. It's the thrill of the chase!

    It'll be interesting to see how much the shoddy first act hurts the final score.

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  3. Prints aren't recoverable since the gun was soaked in water. At least that's been my impression from movies/TV.

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    1. And even if it had prints "gun can be picked up by the textured surface on the grips without fear of placing unnecessary fingerprints on the weapon" (http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/evidenc3.html). In addition, Sonny does have finger print equipment in his field kit, so he could at least try to get some prints from the gun before picking it up.

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    2. I suspect that this is not really the case. Fingerprints are left behind by the skin oils. Generally speaking oils are hydrophobic (meaning they repel water) so I would think that a gun dunked in water would not have the prints un-readable after a relatively short time (the gun could not have been in that water for much more than a few hours).

      Presumably, Bain wiped his prints off with the readily available toilet paper before dumping it in the toilet.

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    3. Actually...

      Lbh pna erpbire cevagf sebz gur tha, ohg lbh unir gb or pnershy! Jura V svefg sbhaq vg, vg zragvbarq gung vg jnf jrg. V glcrq "qel tha" gbb pybfr gb gur cncre gbjry qvfcrafre naq vg tnir zr n zrffntr fnlvat V'q qevrq gur tha - naq jvcrq bss nal cbffvoyr cevagf gbb. Jung lbh unir gb qb vf hfr gur unaq qelre.

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    4. When I handed the gun in at the evidence window, Sonny requested prints be taken from it. So at least in the world of Police Quest the prints are still intact despite the water.

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    5. @Andy: Vg'f gung glcr bs guvat jurer V jvfu gur tnzr jbhyq fnl, "ner lbh fher lbh jnag gb qb guvf?"

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    6. To be fair Zenic, with a Sierra game you should have made plenty of save games in case you do something like that!

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  4. Wow, I never found the stuff about Houston. You're doing great!

    Minor Funny Easter Egg: Try walking behind the partition at Arnie's. Don't worry, this has no effect on the game and won't kill you.

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    1. MacDuff, you're saying that whole segment is not required to finish the game? Because I didn't buy a ticket either and went into Day 2 having missed all that. Was considering reloading...

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    2. Yes, I finished the game without buying a ticket to Houston or ever getting on the plane on day 1. So it appears that part is optional.

      I also showed up to the airport too late on my first playthrough and the Black Station wagon wasn't there. Neither was the flower girl. I think you have get to the airport within a certain time after the Cotton Cove sequence.

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    3. I missed the houston part, I guess I asked the wrong person at the check-in desk? I showed my badge, the mugshot then (spoiler?) nfxrq sbe gur cnffratre yvfg, naq ur jnfa'g ba vg.

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    4. You probably were talking to the wrong person. Lbh fubhyq unir frra gur qrnq wnvyre’f anzr va gur yvfg, juvpu jbhyq unir vaqvpngrq gung Onvaf hfrq uvf VQ gb ohl gur syvtug.

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    5. @Illmari

      I guess I didn't realise gung fcrnxvat gb gur bgure purpx-va crefba jbhyq erfhyg va n qvssrerag nafjre, nygubhtu gung unccraf ntnva jvgu gur eragny pne.

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  5. Trickster, for the underwater screenshot you wrote the caption "A scuba diving scene was an unexpected but pleasant surprise."

    Unexpected? Did you forget about the scuba diving scene present in the game introduction screens? :)

    Also, are you doing MT-32 sound for this game? There are lots YouTube videos for PQ2 and other games if you want a quick comparison of the MT-32 and Adblib music.

    The MT-32 cost I think $600 in 1988 and was experienced by very few. It is a lucky time we live in where this amazing device can now be emulated for free.

    MT-32 was easy to setup on ScummVM. You have to acquire the 2 ROM files, put them in the same folder as the ScummVM executable, and MT-32 works great.

    The big difference in sound for me was the realistic percussion sounds. The conga drums(or whatever they were) during the Cotton Cove sequence are a highlight.

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    1. Well, unexpected before I watched the intro. ;) I thought maybe the intro was just trying to go all James Bond on us, and not necessarily representative of the game. I was glad to find out it was!

      I have to admit that I haven't played around much with sound settings on these old games for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I'm pretty short for time, and playing and blogging takes up a lot as it is! Secondly, sound is still pretty sparse in these games. In fact, Police Quest 2 seems really quite silent for the most part. If it's really as easy as you say, I might try to tinker a bit going forward.

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  6. I only played PQ1 as a kid very briefly. Certainly never beat it, and it was always one of my least favorite of the old Sierra franchises. I never tried any of the subsequent PQ games. Your write-up for this one has me looking back and regretting that assessment. This sounds like a really fun game with lots of interesting things going on in it.

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  7. The airport has a lot to offer...

    Onvaf yrsg uvf fgbyra pne ng gur nvecbeg, naq ur qvqa'g gnxr n syvtug gb Ubhfgba... ner lbh rkcrpgvat uvz gb jnyx njnl be gnxr n ohf/pno? Gurer ner gjb pne uver cynprf juvpu lbh unira'g zragvbarq!

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    1. Speaking of the airport, you all probably saw Larry Laffer, but did anyone talk with Donald Trump?

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    2. I didn't pick up on that at all actually! I assume it's just difficult to notice anyone else when someone with as much charisma and charm as Larry is in the room!

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  8. I'm really liking that this game has a lot of stuff that's optional. It adds to the realism and replay value. It's like an adventure game with side quests!

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    1. Very true, although it does leave me with the persistent feeling that I've missed something important. I never quite know whether I've done enough to avoid a dead end.

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  9. Why do they have to collect evidence against him? Isn't he already serving time for murder, do you really need to collect evidence for a new trial? Or was he not given a life sentence?

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    1. I think he hadn't gone to trial yet (subpena for Bonds to go to the trial was described by Trickster). Also, gathering evidence is necessary for any crime, even if you know who's doing it, creates a better case.

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  10. FYI, Yahtzee just did a segment on an adventure game on Zero Punctuation: www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/6044-Walking-Dead

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  11. Almost forgot, there's something else to find at the cove:
    Minor spoiler: Jura lbh svaq gur wnvyre, ur'f abg tbg uvf pybgurf.
    Major spoiler: Onvaf jbhyqa'g jnag gb eha nebhaq va uvf wnvy havsbez, fb ur zhfg unir fjvgpurq pybgurf
    Full info: purpx gur genfu pna va pbggba pbir gb svaq onvaf' wnvy havsbez.

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  12. Unsure how long it will last, but The Longest Journey is $2.50 (!) at the Steam Summer Sale right now!

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  13. Regarding the flower lady at the airport: did you actually mean to type "potTED plant"? Or did you just miss out on some potential quest points? ;)

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    1. This is Police Quest, not Leisure Suit Larry! ;)

      I assume this is another language thing. We call them potplants over here in Aus, despite what that implies. We tend to shorten words wherever we can because we're lazy.

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  14. Found on Destructoid just now: http://www.destructoid.com/remix-a-nostalgiac-look-at-the-evolution-of-pc-games-231649.phtml

    Great paean to PC gaming!

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  15. OK, final post of the day: Amnesia is only $5.00 on Steam right now, and the IGN review describes it as a first-person adventure/survival horror hybrid. I really like Lovecraft... is this a game I should check out?

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    1. Amnesia is the most atmospheric and scariest game I've ever played. If you're able to immerse yourself in a game, I think you should definitely check it out.

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    2. Penumbra Collector Pack (The first games by the same people as Amnesia) is another series of games that play similarly (but are not quite as good as Amnesia IMO) and is also on sale for $5

      http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1451/

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/57300/

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    3. I've wanted to play Amnesia for a long time. Heard very good things about it and I love horror themed games. One day!

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    4. What?! You didn't buy the Humble Bundle V!? Shame on you! :)
      Amnesia is indeed a really nice game, to play in the dark...
      There's an Amanita bundle on sale right now (very similar to the "Botanicula Humble Bundle by the way), it includes Botanicula, a very pretty game (not extremely challenging though).

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    5. FWIW, I'm a big fan of well-crafted horror in games. But Amnesia is the only game I've EVER had to stop playing because of its unremitting bleakness; I found it was actually getting to me and I began dreading the thought of playing it... it became an ordeal rather than a pleasurable experience.

      The Penumbra games, while also very unnerving, I found extremely enjoyable. They sit in the genre's Mt. Olympus alongside gems like Dark Fall and Scratches.

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  16. I bought Amnesia! I will report back after the bar exam, when I will have free time.

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    1. Good luck on the bar exam! Fellow victim here: I took it in 2009.

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  17. http://kck.st/N1sW3S
    OURFIRG - 3D Adventure Game
    A 3D Adventure game inspired by classical point and click adventure games, with action elements set in a Fantasy Fictional World.
    $1,697 pledged of $6,000 goal, with 14 days to go.
    Projected finish: 54% of goal.

    ReplyDelete