Take Down a Crime Boss, Battle Your Demons in Black Lazar, a Huge Text Adventure for Android
For all the technical miracles that smartphones are capable of nowadays, one of our favorite things about them is the way they've brought humble older formats like board games and text adventures to a whole new generation.
After a long spell in the wilderness, text adventures are back with a vengeance, and Black Lazar is the latest example of what's possible when you combine the timeless joy of words with the immersive possibilities of touchscreens.
Developed by Pleon Words, a studio with a staff of exactly one, Black Lazar is an epic noir tale about a detective called Viktor Metrakos and his mission to take down a crime lord while battling his own demons.
Your journey in Detective Metrakos's shoes will take you to various locations around the globe and back in time as you revisit scenes from his past. You'll also meet a vibrant cast of characters, some of whom are more trustworthy than others.
Black Lazar is an impressively hefty text adventure, with 250,000 words of prose to navigate. If it were a book it would be 500 pages long. Most Fighting Fantasy books are about half that length. That naturally makes it twice as replayable as your average game book, with 500 variables to explore. It'll take you a long, long time to read every word and reach every ending.
But what we really like about Black Lazar is its ambitious psychological complexity. The decisions you make don't just impact on your actions and the reactions of the characters around you - they affect Metrakos himself. You can make him more aggressive or more neurotic depending on how you play.
Outside the text, the presentation is distinctive and elegant, with more than 120 hand-drawn artworks to experience. These are subtly animated, too, and reflect the choices you make. Plus, there's over an hour of original music in a range of styles, and more than 100 sound effects to really plunge you into the game's bleak world. It would be an impressive achievement from a team of developers, but it's mind-blowing from a studio of one.
To check it out, download Black Lazar for free right now on the Google Play Store.