Trilogy Complete

I finally completed my favorite adventure trilogy, Gabriel Knight, with The Beast Within. Took me 20 years because there were no playable formats once technology advanced like mad, so you’d either have to find the right custom computer in order to play the game CDs you owned (which crashed on me all the time so I gave up), or wait until someone virtualized it, which 20 years later I did.

I love this series for a number of reasons:

1. Interweaving of real life history, culture, with fiction

GK1  focused on New Orleans voodoo history. GK2 mixed Bavarian history with the occult and werewolves. GK3 featured the Knights Templar and Jesus. There are those moments that remind me of what I remember from those games that makes the experience feel a little more familiar and encourages you to step out a little further.

2. Player engagement in deciphering puzzles from real life artifacts and locations

I can’t say that all the clues from the games are completely accurate, but every game featured locations and museums that are real and can be visited. These games are the predecessors to Dan Brown, and everyone who played them know it.

3. Each story takes place in a different location

New Orleans, Germany, France. I’m not a great traveler, but I do like to see different histories and cultures, and it’s so much more enticing to discover when there’s a mystery thrown right on it.

4. Each story utilized a different visual format (This is not necessarily a good thing, but I’m a sucker for gimmicks)

Beautiful 2D art and animation, Full Motion Video, and 3D art and animation (IMO, the worst).

5. Grace Nakamura

Best sidekick ever. She’s female, APA, witty, and smart. Though she could be a little less sour, but not much you can do when your partner is a slacker.

Adventure games have always had an issue with the hint system, sometimes you just never know what to do next. Designers never want to give something completely away, but I think a robust hint system which smart ways of delivering hints would have saved adventure games. A character’s thoughts on event triggers seems doable enough, but visual and audio cues are definitely more appreciated. It adds ambient life to the environment, and if done correctly, it stands out enough to engage the player. It was probably a huge resource in its time to do, but I think it would have been fun to play god and find ways to deliver “signs” to their protagonists, which the player would have to pick up on in order to know what to do next. For example, I was especially stuck with getting the lily and putting it in the water in memorial to Ludwig… Would have never thought of that unless I saw the lily plant blossoming, or a ghostly Ludwig calling from the water.

This series started in the 90s, so lessons have been learned since then. In any case, everyone agrees that the narrative is the backbone of a good game, but there are so many ways to present the story. I like to predict what’s going to happen in a movie, but I do appreciate seeing it being unfolded before me, so these kinds of games are exactly what I love to play.

The Adjustment Bureau

A romantic drama disguised as an action thriller pitting the free will of the protagonists against higher power, their fate, destiny. The theme was similar to Never Let Me Go, in that they journey to an almost mythic vessel of authority in an attempt to change their fate, but the means to get there was a web of convoluted and tough decisions. In the end, there is no one happy ending, it all just depends on what you value. One thing is for sure, love destroys ambition!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, but I’m glad it was my first movie of the year. Here’s to 2012 and all its tough decisions.