Germany really seems to be standing up for the point and click adventure. With varying results. At the shinier end is Deck13's Ankh, but more often by the time they're in our English-speaking hands the humour is completely lost by poor translations and localisation. Nevermind the crappy puzzle design that's currently endemic throughout the genre.
So, is there hope on the horizon from German developers Daedalic Entertainment? They've got not seventy, not minus six hundred, but three new point-n-clickers due over the next couple of years. Here thems are:
This one is apparently an "eco-thriller", telling us about the issues of climate change in gaming form. Set in the distant future where we've buggered up Earth beyond repair, the only logical response is time travel. After heading back to 2050, and then even earlier, what results is a globe-trotting adventure that aims prioritise story over puzzles. While it's likely to be tricky to avoid being preachy, it'll be nice to be literally saving the world for once. Plus the hand-drawn 2D design is exactly the right environment for adventuring, using over twenty layers to create its stylish look. What it needs to remember is to be fun.
This is a bit of a rescue. TWW was original to be published by Bad Brain, then had a brief an unsuccessful life as a fan-made freeware project. Now Daedalic have picked up all the rights, and are developing to completion. Cleverly, the company has hired Marco Hüllen, the man whose graduation project the game first existed to be. Due Winter this year, it's another 2D, traditionally animated adventure, telling the story of Sadwick, a young clown in a fairy tale world. How happy and lovely - except he's on a "disappointing search for meaning in his life." Buddied by a fat green worm called Spot, The Whispered World seems to be putting its focus on melancholy. You know what - that's a really splendid idea, and a mood that far too few games have aimed for. While the setting and design doesn't grab me at all, simply that - a melancholic tale - has me intrigued.
Edna and Harvey: The Breakout
It's odd that the most imminent (due in May) game should have no website of its own, nor any screenshots available. The game's logo is below, too big to chop into one of our sexy letterbox graphics. This is also the game that looks most doomed to suffer in relocation. It's 'wacky'. Edna wakes up in an insane asylum, in a padded cell, with no memory, other than a certainty that she's wrongly imprisoned. Her absolute sanity is confirmed when her stuffed rabbit, Harvey, tells her so. So bust them out you must, while meeting the keerrrazzeee characters inhabiting the, er, mental institution. My flashing red nose is going off, which is always a sign that something seems too self-consciously zany. Let's hope not, but the logo's design looks a bit web-toony for comfort. [Anti Pessimism Edit: I'm too judgemental here. I've not even seen a screen of the game to make a call. My instincts are worried based on history, but obviously it's not fair to condemn this at all.]