It's a little known fact that back in the 1920's there was a large tentacled creature roaming the streets of England. William and Thomas have been investigating the odd case in Somewhere in England, 1928. Drink Cider, Make Games has designed a wonderful point-and-click adventure for CGDC #10. The investigators end up in a situation beyond their control. Can you help them escape with their lives?
The controls are simple and familiar. Use the magnifying glass to explore your surroundings, and the hand icon to interact with things on the screen or in your inventory, which is on the bottom of the screen. Click or hit the [X] key to switch between them. Also click the mouse to advance text on the screen. You are trapped in an old mansion with the monster right on your heels. You must escape from one room to the next, trying to stay one step ahead of the monstrosity.
Analysis: The Casual Gameplay Design Competition theme this time around was "escape". The obvious interpretation of the theme in Somewhere in England, 1928, is escaping the monster room by room. However there is more going on here if you pay attention to the dialog between the characters. William is feeling trapped in his life and his job, and doesn't know if he can leave it all behind to find a lifestyle better suited to him. Some of the dialog that makes this clear is not required to win the game, so make sure you hit all of the dialog options if you want to experience that aspect of the game. It adds dimension to the game to have the theme interpreted in two ways.
Somewhere in England, 1928, takes you back in time both in story and graphics. It has great old school imagery and gameplay. The minimalistic story allows you to imagine for yourself what exactly led Thomas and William into this mess. There is no soundtrack, just ambient noise that adds just the right amount of atmosphere to the game. My only complaint is the length of the game: I wanted it to be longer. Despite the fact that it is short, you get surprisingly attached to the characters and end up longing for more once the game ends. If you missed this entry to the competition, I recommend giving it a try!
Author's Theme interpretation:
"1: Both of the main characters are trapped inside a crumbling mansion as a violent monster tears the place apart. The objective of the game is to try and get the characters out of each room."
"2: How do you escape a boring life? William is trapped in more than a physical sense. He can't tell anyone about his secret life of running around in the dark fighting monsters, and he feels trapped. He's thinking of leaving the team and moving away from London, at his family's request, but that's just the easy way out. It would give him a more normal life, something more manageable, but ultimately, it's not what he wants." -Drink Cider. Make Games.
Pastel Games' feedback:
"The black menu screen is a bit of a throw off."
"This is how you start a game. With an intro. With a great sound design. With atmosphere. You got me drawn in from the beginning. That's usually a good sign."
"Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room. The graphics look like Sword and Sworcery - or maybe it's just how pixelart looks like in general, I'm not a big follower of pixelart. But it looks great in this game, I give you that. Consistent graphical design and not a 3D - that's like breath of fresh air right there."
"I love the dialogue in this game."
"One technical thing - when the dialogue displays and mouse is completely hidden - my cursor id flickering on movement. Using Chrome on Mac OSX."
"Another thing - when I choose hand to interact with the surroundings - it goes back to being magnifying glass after using it once on something. It would be nice if I didn't have to change to hand each time I want to interact. The same goes for using items. When I take one in the hand I'd like to be able to use it more than once and then put it back."
"After finishing the game and going back to the menu mouse is still invisible, so the cursor is flickering."
"Other than those minor technical problems - this is by far best game in my opinion. Everything in it is professional and implies a weathered, grown up developer with the sense of what and why he's doing. The gameplay, the story, the sound design, the plot twist at the end - everything is in the right place."
"Congrats, you win at life." -Mateusz Skutnik.
"The game drew me in from the first minute, none of the puzzles were not too difficult nor too easy. I had problems with the look and interact mode. I missed the background music and sound effects definitely exchange. That story was so well written that it begs a second playthrough." -Karol Konwerski.