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Three Cards To Midnight

A front room, yesterday.

Here’s some news that should enhappy a decent number of people, and just confuse the rest. The two-man driving force behind the Tex Murphy games – Chris Jones and Aaron Conners – have reunited, and are revealing details of their first story-driven game to be released by their new studio, Big Finish Games.

IGN has a nice piece, interviewing the pair, and discussing their recently announced game, Three Cards To Midnight.

Big Finish make some big claims. Everyone’s trying to reinvent the adventure game at the moment, and while I’m delighted to hear that they are focusing on combining the puzzles and the story in a more meaningful way, it’s a claim I’ve heard a lot. However, I loved Tex Murphy, and I want to trust these guys. I really, really do. In the IGN interview they say,

“One big thing we’d like to emphasize is the connection between gameplay and story. A lot of adventure games had almost no connection between the two. Our game has what we consider the perfect balance between story and gameplay, which will keep players locked into the illusion.”

The RPS Orbiting Station has a lovely games room.

The game’s story revolves around using tarot cards to help someone gradually recover their memories… Erk. Gaming’s most strained plot device rearing its head, but perhaps, for once, in a reasonable way. Rather than having your character conveniently forget everything in order to simulate your ignorance of their past as a player, this is to be a game that’s actively about recovering memories piece by piece. It is the plot, rather than used to excuse the plot. More unfairly, I’ve noticed that including tarot cards in a game doesn’t bode well. The number of pisspoor adventures I’ve played that have had an animated Death card swoop onto screen, or used the cards as menu buttons, or otherwise involved the woo-woo nonsense in some dreadful way has become disturbing. Big Finish: break that trend!

An odd thing: there’s no plans to involve humour. In fact, they’re positively against it.

“For this game, our objective was to create an atmosphere of suspense and danger and, frankly, humor can detract from that pretty quickly.”

That’s a strange claim. I’d suggest that a horror lacking humour is in terrible danger of becoming po-faced. If you’re laughing with, it’s very hard to be laughing at, never mind the potential for being disarmed before they lay on the fear.

This looks about as trad a puzzle as you can get. These guys are going old skool.

My guess, from reading the interview and looking at the screenshots, is that this will be a mix of old-school adventure-as-radio (with static backgrounds), and more modern casual gaming themes. The trailer shows no graphics at all, but rather focuses on the voices. In fact, in many ways I keep thinking of The Fool’s Errand, which was of course the Tarot Card Exception.

Of course, right now, no one knows how it will be. Like I keep saying, I really enjoyed the Tex Murphy games, and these guys know how to tell a decent story. They’ve created a development studio with the sole intent of telling decent stories. So consider me excited and hopeful. The game is due to come out in November, and will apparently be priced under $25.

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Who am I?

John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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