Captain Zaron and the Trials of Doom
Life's not easy for the fearsome pirate mercenary antihero Captain Zaron, star of Studio Meristem's adventure game Captain Zaron and the Trials of Doom. His sister Elsa is to be sacrificed at the stroke of midnight as part of a doomsday prophecy that will wipe out the kingdom, and he'll be damned if he's going to let that happen unchallenged, even if it means tracking down a legendary skull in an ancient tomb, traveling to the afterlife and back, and blowing down a boarded-up door with a Molotov cocktail. (He probably cares more about his sister than the kingdom, but a motivator is a motivator.)
Controls are a fairly simple task of pointing and clicking. Click items of interest to examine them, handle them, talk to them, or use your equipped item with them, depending on which action is selected. Change that action by clicking the icon in the lower left or pressing [A]. The treasure chest icon in the lower right is where you can access your inventory screen; from there you can inspect your inventory items, switch your equipped item, or use things on each other or on yourself. You can also access the options menu from the inventory screen, from where you can adjust a variety of settings and save your game. Later you'll also get a spellbook from which you can cast a number of different spells, and even later than that you'll get involved in two or three swordfights for which you'll need to use the [arrow] keys and [D].
Analysis: Don't let the simple style graphics fool you, Captain Zaron is a game with meat. It's an compelling adventure game with logical puzzles and the perfect level of challenge. There's an in-game source of two kinds of hints when you need it, which is certainly a plus. It also has a very gripping plot, albeit slightly corny, and is filled with hilarious shoutouts to classic adventure games such as Zork and Space Quest.
Peter Lemiszki's Studio Meristem does a great job of ironing out the many frustrations that plague adventure games old and new. For example, one thing that was pretty controversial with older adventure games was how they handled actions that could get the protagonist killed. On the one hand it can be frustrating losing a lot of progress by forgetting to save before doing that risky thing; on the other, finding all the hilarious ways you can kill the protagonist off was one of the appeals of Sierra On-Line's games. Meristem has found the perfect middle ground: Captain Zaron can still die in amusing ways, but you won't lose any progress over it— you can undo your mistake and get right back to playing. There's no way to make the game unwinnable, either, so feel free to try anything.
There's no question about it, this is a game made by lovers of adventure games, for lovers of adventure games. A game doesn't need to look pretty to be a worthwhile experience, and Captain Zaron proves it.