Tainted Olive: Chapter 1
Black Olive Games' newest point-and-click adventure series begins with Tainted Olive: Chapter 1, where you take control of Silvian. Silvian's mood has been bleak lately and his luck only seems to go from bad to worse when he runs afoul of the local thieves guild, who, as it happens, don't take kindly to people trying to run out on their debts. A job posted by the local church to investigate the sudden silence at one of their heavily guarded orchards seems like a good idea, both in terms of cash and an excuse to get out of town for a while, but before he can leave, he has some unfinished business to attend to. To play, all you need to do is click to interact anywhere your cursor highlights with a white glow, and the map you gain early on will let you travel from place to place. Friend, this is one maudlin game, so hopefully you're in the mood for some bleakness and some sad doo-doo-doo music.
Though the story is extremely text-heavy, your actual choices are fairly limited and so are any actual puzzles. The game does some clever things with its puzzles, but they stutter somewhat from poor explanations or awkward interfaces. This first chapter of a planned six part series shoulders the burden of introducing us to a new world, one vastly different from The Grey Rainbow. A lot of it is interesting, like the Blood, the Five Hundred Year War, and the importance of olives, but not everyone will appreciate the jarring breaks to the story the narrative often takes to infodump it in your lap. If you can stand the bumps, however, Tainted Olive is a curiously engrossing game that feels like it has the potential to open up into an even more creative world. The risks it takes with its puzzle design might make it seem rough around the edges, but they stand out from the pack. Chapter 1 itself is on the short side, and don't expect to finish with more answers than questions, but the series shows a lot of promise, and later this year we'll see if it can continue the momentum.