A-Fforde-able Adventure (It’s Free!)

By Richard Cobbett on July 20th, 2011 at 10:07 am.

I think you mean pooooooooooooisonous snakes

Before you even start Adventure: All In The Game, you’re asked whether you think your knowledge of adventure games is Minimal, Adequate or Extensive. I immediately quit and opened the Readme to see if it was made by Games For Richard Inc. It wasn’t. But it may as well have been. This is one of my favourite AGS adventures in ages, with great writing, solid design, and an excellent ‘behind the scenes’ premise that’s far more than just a cute gimmick.

The basic idea is the same as in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels. You’re Thalia James, a cop who patrols adventure games in search of trouble like characters rebelling against their set roles or stealing the precious objects us Outsiders need to solve important puzzles. The very first scene in the game involves an argument between characters originally cut from The Dig and a conspiracy to return it its earlier, darker Brian Moriarty design. Later, you visit everything from Space Quest X to bits of the cancelled Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, first to train an impetuous new recruit, and then to take care of a bigger challenge involving the world of adventure games slowly turning into a rather more violent place than usual.

Manhunter. Now there was a freaky game. 10 geek points if you can guess the joke here.

The first couple of screens may look slightly unwelcoming, making it seem like you’ll really need to know your adventures really, really well to enjoy the story. You don’t. If you know who all the characters are, you’ll enjoy it more, but for the most part you can just let Thalia say “Oh, it’s Jerrod from Gold Rush” or whatever and be absolutely fine. Most of the major characters are actually original creations, including Thalia herself and Sledge, her newly assigned rookie from Action, with the main plot revolving around the clash between their philosophies and Thalia’s refusal to budge even an inch from the One True Path of cerebral puzzle solving.

Don’t let the use of borrowed sprites and backgrounds fool you – this isn’t just some quickly thrown together game. It’s long, well written, and while the puzzles won’t really challenge you unless you miss a slightly hidden hotspot on the screen, they’re entertaining and perfectly in keeping with the premise. Creator Akril has a great feel for the genre, with Adventure equally comfortable as a tribute to adventuring as a parody of some of its sillier traditions. If you’ve ever loved the greats from Sierra, Lucasarts and friends, definitely clear an evening in your schedule to go see what their stars get up to when your cursor isn’t bossing them around.

That's a crime now?! No jury would convict!

Can you solve the puzzle of clicking this download link? Hint: Use a mouse.

(Extra Bit: All In The Game is actually the second Adventure… uh… adventure, with its ideas first tried out in The Inside Job. That’s an okay game, but nowhere near as accomplished as this one, and you won’t miss out on anything by either skipping it or playing it afterwards.)

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31 Comments »

  1. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    “Can you solve the puzzle of clicking this download link? Hint: Use a mouse.”

    Uhhh, can I get another clue?

    Every time I click that important line of text (it’s bold and red), my whole tab changes!

    And I don’t like change!

  2. Tei says:

    I have found this MUD, but is not any good:

    User: Adventure games.
    Cleverbot: I love adventures.
    User: Kill rat.
    Cleverbot: Kill what?
    User: Search.
    Cleverbot: I was hoping you could tell me.
    User: Exits.
    Cleverbot: I’m cleverbot.
    User: Inventory.
    Cleverbot: How old are you?

    This was probably not the puzzle I was tryiing to solve.

  3. Drake Sigar says:

    You had me at ‘free’.

  4. Carra says:

    Minimal, Adequate or Extensive… John Walkeresque.

  5. Luke says:

    I always wanted the Space Quest series to continue, just to see if when they got to X they really did name it Latex Babes of Estros.

  6. I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, this looks interesting. And while we’re on the subject of expressing gratitude, thank you for writing that Realms of the Haunting retrospective way back when. That game needs a lot more love than it’s been getting.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      You’re welcome. ROTH hasn’t aged well (especially the almost non-existant AI and mazes), but I absolutely loved it when it came out.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I remember buying that game as a child, trying to play it without understanding it at all. Thanks for the article as I probably would never have remembered it existed otherwise.

      In fact I believe it was the first game I ever bought.

  7. Diziet Sma says:

    Oh I was hoping it was a Thursday Next reference given the title. I must must play this, all of fforde’s books are worth a read… go go go.

  8. BooleanBob says:

    Sounds a bit like what Kid Radd was (or eventually became) to 8-bit platformers, or Matt Hazard was to something, but nobody’s really sure what.

    My first thought was that my knowledge of adventure games would be ‘extensive’, but having read the article I realise it’s must be nothing like that. I think there must be something of a generational gap – what would you categorise ‘played most of the better-selling Lucasarts games, plus the Broken Swords and Toonstruck’ as?

  9. LionsPhil says:

    I’m now wondering what the other seven things on the Things Not To Touch In Adventure Games list are.

    I think “toilet flush handles” has to be on it somewhere just for one of LSL1′s most unpleasant ways to die.

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