Escape to Obion
Escape to Obion is a five-part series of short point-and-click games by Matt Slaybaugh of SkepticTank.net. The games are strongly reminiscent of old-style adventure games such as Myst, complete with the mysterious atmosphere, fiendish puzzles, and an absolutely gripping sense of exploration.
Dr. Saturday is hatching an evil plot to hijack the mind of every sentient machine in the world. The government is too weak and unorganized to stop him, so the responsibility falls to a few small groups of concerned citizens. You have just learned the location of the entrance to one of Dr. Saturday's labs: in the charming neighborhood of a dormant volcano named Mount Terror. That second helping of apple pie will have to wait, it's time to get to work.
Each area is presented in a series of still-scenes with clickable hotspots and movement arrows that highlight when the cursor passes over. You'll gather clues in the form of cryptic hints scrawled in various parts of the game and use them to solve other puzzles. Keep a piece of paper handy to jot down the odd note for later use. Also keep an eye out for subtle changes in the scenery, as they could be clues to your next move.
The scenery is rendered in grainy detail that adds a surprising amount of depth to the world. What the screen doesn't show the mind creates itself, and Escape to Obion offers just enough detail to let your mind run rampant with ideas. Sound effects are also minimalistic, pulling your attention right where the author wants it: inside the game's world.
The first chapter, Fire and Ice, starts you off with shorter puzzles to get you warmed up. Later installments: The Hidden Map, The Alchemist's Notebook, Closer To Zero, and The Chemisphere continue the story and introduce more intricate problems to solve. You'll have to find out what happens yourself, as spoiling the plot would deprive you of a fantastic gaming experience.
Analysis: The Escape to Obion games exude a remarkably complete atmosphere in short, bite-sized installments. Each chapter is wholly satisfying on its own, but I found myself so enamored with them that I couldn't stop until I played them all. I've always been a big fan of adventure games and Escape to Obion really had me hooked.
The puzzles, storyline, and sense of exploration are all very well-balanced. The areas aren't so large you can get lost in them, but there's enough there to let you feel free to roam. Having the game divided into chapters lets you play at your leisure, accomplishing the difficult task of taking an epic adventure and turning it into several smaller casual games. Everything about Escape to Obion is done remarkably well, and it shows in every puzzle, every scene, and every chapter you'll be clamoring to play.