NETWORK / INTERNET
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From the gore obsessed mind that was behind the adventure games 5 Days a Stranger and 7 Days a Skeptic (also on Gamehippo) comes 1213. This is a sidescroller adventure game that plays much like the classic Prince of Persia.
You take the role of a prisoner with a severe case of amnesia. You have no idea who your captives are or even why you are being imprisoned. Heck, you don't even know your name. You simply identify yourself as Twelve-thirteen, the number you've been assigned by the doctors who preform experiments on you. As the game starts, you wake up in the same confusion and pain as any other day. A doctor arrives at your cell, hands you a pistol, forces you to go through an obstical course (which functions as the game's tutorial), and subsequently gets the guards to lob you back in your cell. Oddly, the doctor doesn't take the pistol away from you. It would seem that he's just taunting you with the thought of the freedom you'll never have again. Suddenly, your cell door opens...
I'll start off by saying the storyline is great. The author of the game did a fantastic job with this. There is a creepiness to the story that I havn't seen in any game in a long time. Most of the game's pieces of story are portrayed through computer journals written by the guards and doctors running the prison. If the gameplay fails to keep you interested in the game, the story definately will.
As mentioned before, the game plays a lot like classic Prince of Persia games. It's not my cup of tea, but it works well enough. It's very simple, and not really all that interesting. You've got your running, jumping, shooting, climbing, and environment interaction. That's pretty much it. However, there is the interesting and rather strange health system. Instead of a healthbar, you see and hear your heart. The faster it's beating, the more pain you have suffered so far. To replenish your health, you have to stand in a shower. I know taking a shower is sometimes refreshing, but healing wounds...? Strange, but more interesting than the overly-used white box with a red cross on it.
The music adds a good deal of atmosphere to the game, and is quite well done. Sadly, the songs are rather short and loop often. The sound is average, nothing much to say about it... gunshots sound like gunshots and dying guys make grunts. Although both the sound and music are taken from other things, it does fit the game nicely.
The graphics aren't very good. While everything is distinguishable, everything is also very simplistic and undetailed. However. there are parts in the game where the graphics do a good job at portraying the eerie atmosphere. Oh, and there is blood. Lots of blood. Bucketloads of blood. That makes any game better, if you ask me.
I recommend this to everyone, solely because of the story. Much to my dismay, 1213 is short and ends with you wishing you had more. Each episode will only take about 15-20 minutes to beat.
[Note: The download link takes you to the author's page where you can download all three episodes.]
| 5 Days A Stranger
Trilby is a tall, elegant, English gentleman thief. Thanks to an informer, he's heading to the now deserted DeFoe manor, whose owner and wife tragically died recently, hoping for a good booty. But, once he breaks in, he can't exit; doors and windows leading outside the huge estate can't be opened anymore. Moreover, there's other people inside, trapped like him. And things get even worse when someone dies...
So, we have a classic haunted house theme, but the entire game is very well developed over it, you'll quickly forget this detail. The plot, articulated through the five days of the title, develops greatly; a lot of reading is required to know more of the mansion and its former occupants. Atmosphere is one of the game's strongest points. Gore is very scarce, there are more fear and terror than visual horror. What I liked the most, are the cutscenes involving events where you can't tell when reality ends and nightmare starts, or vice versa: this made me, the first time I played, genuinely SCARED. Later in the game, you could be afraid of going on, in fear of witnessing more bad events. Really a great work on this side.
Graphics are nothing to scream about. They just do their work more than decently, reminding me of Sierra adventures of the late '80s, early '90s. I must point out, however, that good efforts were put into animations, you'll get to see some noticeable ones in action. Music is declaredly taken from the RPG Maker 2000 library, but fits with the atmosphere. Most of the time, however, it's just silence and strange noises, developing the tension.
The interface is simple and not invasive. You can use the icons on the bottom of the screen to select the main actions, but it's better clicking the right mouse button to recall the complete interface with actions, items and save/load/quit functions. Only annoyance is that you have to move the mouse outside the interface to close it every time.
The game is not exactly long, also due to the limited amount of rooms - but, after all, you are confined inside a mansion, so a huge variety of locations wasn't to be expected from the start. Some puzzles could prove to be challenging, you may feel clueless about what to do next until you gather the necessary information; remember, often reading is the key. Don't forget to save sometimes: in the second half of the game, there are a couple of situations were you could get killed.
There are some game design flaws. You will find, at some points, a couple of objects practically popping out of nowhere at the right time you need them, an artifice I never liked in adventure games. And at times, for example after Trilby heard a strange noise or a bad event just occurred, he talks to other characters like nothing happened.
These problems, however, don't hamper the quality of 5 Days A Stranger too much. It hasn't the lastability of some of the best freeware adventures, but it beats many of them in terms of atmosphere. It's far from perfect, but with such small download size you shouldn't miss it.
| 6 Days A Sacrifice
When Trilby�s Notes came out, another episode was already planned. In the weeks preceding the release, Yahtzee built up the wait with �The Countdown�, three text adventures foreshadowing the events of the adventure game (they are available at the same website). They are short and easy, but very well written: it�s recommended to play them before 6 Days A Sacrifice, but also after, since at that point you�ll have a better understanding of the story. If it�s some time since you last played the three previous games, better refresh your memories, since they will be heavily referenced, right from the intro.
On to the proper game. 6DAS takes place about 200 years after 5 Days A Stranger, and about 200 years before 7 Days A Skeptic. Theodore DaCabe is a surveying officer for the Buckinghamshire County Council, assigned to the inspection of the building of some sort of religion, called Optimology. It should be just routine work on a normal day, but soon Theo is forcefully drifted in a nightmare that will see him become an important element in the machinations of destiny.
In some ways, it�s a return to the first two episodes: the characters are imprisoned in a sealed, limited, claustrophobic space (not that Trilby�s Notes was much vaster, but the hotel appeared more spacious), and the nightmare sequences you cannot separate from reality are back, as it is a point-and-click interface, which is practically the same as 7DAS: left-click to walk, right click on an object to bring up the inventory items and the actions you can perform on it. Save/Load/Quit options appear if you move the cursor to the top of the screen, along with two new options: a Cellphone you will use occasionally, and the Journal, an archive of the texts found throughout the game.
Not much to say on the technical side, positively: same good and simple graphics, good animations, and original music. The composer outdid himself and the tunes are some of the best I've heard in a freeware game. I especially loved the intro music, and the remixed version of one of the themes from the previous episode.
Playing as a character in a very bad shape enhances the sense of vulnerability in the player, but you cannot die, at any point of the game. While this departure from the predecessors could seem an odd choice at first, you�ll find out that it makes perfect sense in the plot. Yes, the plot. Always the series� strongest point, it assumes even more importance in an episode which is intended to wrap up all � it even gives more sense to one of the most criticized points in the saga, the ending of 7DAS. Dialogues must be followed very carefully and, while it never got scary as Trilby�s Notes, 6DAS often surprised me with its plot twists.
Puzzles are not banal, but I found them quite easy: unlike the predecessors, I was able to finish 6DAS with no external help. It�s probably the shortest of the series, too, but again, if longer it could have been resulted in a more diluted playing experience. It must be noted, however, that in creating an epic plot, maybe Yahtzee went too far sometimes � there are even time paradoxes involved!
While Trilby�s notes is my favourite episode, 6 Days A Sacrifice is still an excellent closure to one of the best freeware series (not only in the adventure genre), thanks to a surprising ending which is not happy, and leaves some minor questions partially or totally unanswered, resulting in an aura of indefinition that�s scarier than any horror scene.
| 7 Days A Skeptic
As I knew of the release of this game, I expected it to be a new adventure of Trilby, the gentleman thief. With my surprise, the setting is completely different, taking the player four centuries in the future. Exploring the Caracus galaxy, the crew of the scoutship Mephistopheles (not really a reassuring name!) finds a mysterious object floating in space: an old metal locker. Taking the role of counsellor Dr. Jonathan Somerset, the player will soon get in contact with the ancient events of DeFoe manor. After all, "history repeats in cycles". This is the start of a plot with a strong Jason X flavour in it.
Some things haven't changed since 5 Days A Stranger. The graphic style is more or less the same: simple yet effective, with some good character animation. A few background tunes, but only sond effects (many taken from Half-Life) for most of the time. A real classy touch: while wearing the EVA suit, you hear only your breathing inside it, like in the movie "2001" (it's a voluntary reference). The download size, too, hasn't changed: small. There are some screens where you can walk on the exterior, but you are mostly limited to the decks of this small scoutship. Do not take it as a flaw, though, since it strenghtens the sense of oppression and claustrophobia.
The interface, on the other hand, has changed. The save, load and quit functions are located on top of the screen, appearing as you drag the cursor there. The items and actions interface doesn't appear anytime you want, but only as you right-click on something you can interact with, immediately choosing what to do or use with it. This cuts out all that unnecessary cursor movement to close the interface in the previous game.
There's much more gore in 7 Days A Skeptic. I have no problems with it, but the predecessor didn't resort to extremely bloody scenes to be scary: this is much more violent, to the point of being gross at times. In spite of this, probably due to the hi-tech setting, it feels more aseptic to me. There are plenty of chances to die this time; sometimes you will have to run for your life, so save often. Sometimes the "enemy entities" (let's call them this way, I don't want to give spoilers away) pop out from where they shouldn't logically be, for example a room you just came out from! This is intentional, to give doubts and create more tension (are you battling something concrete, or is it more akin to a ghost?), but since you can't cancel a command once it is given, being surprised and killed while walking to reach a door, totally unable to avoid such occurrence, is frustrating.
Puzzles are, for the most, easy, except one in a dangerous situation: it suffers for being far from intuitive. There's another puzzle, instead, which could be quite challenging but you can solve with some reasoning and attention to detail, I liked it. Though the plot is articulated through seven days (again, like in the title), the game is shorter. The ending is a mixed bag: really unexpected and surprising, but it also feels "thrown in", to give some closure to the story.
With all the problems I pointed out, you could think 7 Days A Skeptic is a bad game, or almost; it's not. It's still a solid product, with very good plot development and lots of atmosphere and tension; my beloved cutscenes with no defined boundary between reality and nightmare are here again. When you have to run to survive, it feels almost like a survival horror. So, if you played and liked 5 Days A Stranger (and it's recommended you do it first, so to have the best enjoyment from the plot), I'm pretty sure you will like this one too, even if it's not on par with the previous episode.
|THE REVIEWER ALSO RECOMMENDS THIS SIMILAR GAME:|
5 Days A Stranger [8/10] REVIEWED BY Gendo Ikari
| A Wet Day And Wet Grass
Such a noble quest; you're suffering from a hang over, and you're looking for a smoke! Actually, this text adventure's kinda funny. To play, click the desired option. Includes high score list and some funny pics.