As of November 2012, I run music webzine A Lonely Ghost Burning.

It's all about short, positive reviews with no genre restrictions. Might be worth a try if you you like your music to feature any or all of the following characteristics;

- Distinctive Vocals

- Palpable Atmosphere

- Believable Emotion

I also write occasionally for the excellent Alternative Magazine Online and keep a far less excellent blog, Cherry Faced Fool.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

What's This About?

With the realisation that my previous 'What's This About' post was a little abrupt and not entirely useful, I have decided to write a new, slightly more structured piece.

If you are a first time visitor, then welcome. I would recommend you read this post to get a feel for what the blog is about. If you're an old-timer, then thanks for your continued support. Hopefully you'll still find this post mildly interesting and informative.

First things first, given the very positive nature of the content on here, it seems necessary to explain why this is the case. My aim for the blog is as follows;

To inform adventure gamers about freeware games that I feel they may enjoy.

The flip side of this is that I have no desire or intention to try and discourage players from playing games I haven't enjoyed. As such, you will notice that there isn't one negative review on here - if I haven't enjoyed a game, then I won't review it. This doesn't mean I don't attempt to point out a game's flaws and constructively nitpick about how it could have been improved, it just means that the overall tone of each review will be positive in nature. To a certain degree, I will have enjoyed that game. How much so, will hopefully be conveyed in the review.

My reasoning for this outlook is that this blog is about freeware - games that are legally downloadable for no cost. Who am I to try and put down the hard work of the people that slave over these labours of love for no financial gain? Providing that criticism is constructive, I have no problem with dishing it out, however if there are not enough positives to offset that criticism, I feel it unfair to give a review of that game. Now if I were paying for these games, then that would be a different story!

Moving on, the key characteristics of an adventure game are often discussed by fans of the genre. My personal opinion is that the most important elements are; Story, Atmosphere, and Gameplay. Other aspects of importance can likely be classed under one of these three areas. For example, exploration is part of the gameplay, characters part of the story, visuals part of the atmosphere. Of course this isn't a science and there are ambiguities in some areas, e.g. I often find characters have an affect on a game's atmosphere too, but as a basic starting point, I feel this model is nice to work from.

A great story makes the player anxious to find out what will happen next, it's conclusion is anticipated and dreaded in equal measure. The other areas of a game can undoubtedly add to an interesting plot, however it is very unlikely they will make up for the lack of one. As with any other medium, a story written for an adventure game needs to be intriguing, intelligent, well paced, and well written.

A game with a great atmosphere makes the player feel as though they are being drawn into the gameworld. If the atmosphere is unable to immerse the player, he/she will feel disconnected from the game, no matter how enthralling the story is. It is also vitally important that the atmosphere fits the tone of the story. This doesn't just refer to the game's setting, it applies to the characters' actions and dialogue too. Humour is great when used correctly, however when used in the wrong situation it can completely destroy any atmosphere that has been built up to that point.

Finally, great gameplay makes the player feel as though they are not just in the gameworld, but actually affecting it. Ideally, the majority of puzzles will be a part of the story - not merely an artificial challenge with no relevance to the plot. The player should be forced to make important connections using their own mind and the information they have at their disposal. Logical deduction is far more rewarding than the 'try everything on everything' approach. Exploration can also be a key gameplay element, helping to add to the immersion set by the story and atmosphere. This is difficult to achieve in a freeware game however because of the time and monetary constraints the developers are under.

There are of course exceptions, games that are enjoyed despite not following all of my own personal guidelines. As a rule however, I would argue that most of the top adventure games contain these elements.

Here are a few examples of games I perceive as excelling in the three key areas.


- Discworld Noir
- Dreamfall
- Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
- Longest Journey, The
- Moment of Silence, The


- Anna
- Ben Jordan Series
- Love and War Act 1
- White Chamber, The


- Black Dahlia
- Discworld Noir
- Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
- Monkey Island 1-3
- Longest Journey, The
- Scratches


- A Second Face: The Eye of Geltz
- Anna
- Ben There, Dan That
- Heed
- La Croix Pan
- McCarthy Chronicles, The
- White Chamber, The


- Day of the Tentacle
- Discworld Noir
- Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
- Quest for Glory 1


- ! (Exclamation)
- Nanobots
- Quest for Glory 2 (VGA Remake)

So, that's it. I hope this post hasn't made you drowsy.

Thanks for reading,



  1. You may not be surprised when I tell you that I agree with pretty much everything you've said about what makes a great adventure game! :-D