Talesworth Adventure Episode One
Got hero? Talesworth Adventure Episode One, a challenging puzzle game from Sean "Jinx" Gailey (MrJinx), really hopes you do, because the people cry out for a hero as cunning as he is strong and brave. Unfortunately, all they've got is Questy, who, on a scale of one to ten in the brains department, is brick. Fortunately Questy's got you and an undying love of big sacks of cash to help him reach his goal. Along the way, he'll learn the true meaning of friendship, and lessons about life and love. Or, uh. Get shot with a whole bunch of arrows and fall down a whole lot of pits. Which, when you think about it, is practically the same thing.
The goal is to use the tools at your disposal to get Questy to the exit of each level, preferably with any treasure he might find. Click on an item from the sidebar, and then click on a valid spot on the floor to place it. Different items will affect Questy's journey in different ways; one-way doors will slam shut behind your hero, for example, and bags of money will always send him running in their direction. When you've laid out your course, click GO! to send Questy off on his way and hopefully towards success. FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.... oh, wait, it totally is. Just hit the reset button on the left if you get stuck in a loop, or click clear tools to have all placeables instantly returned to your inventory. (Or just click on one to pick it up again when Questy stops.)
Initially, the only thing that stands between Questy and sweet, sweet victory is the occasional locked door you'll need to grab the key for. As the levels progress, however, things get trickier; pressure plates, pitfalls, angry monsters and more all stand between you and sweet, sweet loot. I don't know why dragons bother with the elaborate maze setup, really; I'd just rig up a giant novelty anvil over the entrance. Happily, the game also autosaves your progress, so when you need to give your gray matter a cool down, Questy will be waiting at the start of your last level when you get back like a faithful golden retriever. An exceptionally thick one. The sort with uncontrollable drooling.
Analysis: So allow me to put on my patented Captain Obvious hat and say that this game is quite a bit different from Mr Jinx's previous title, Talesworth Arena, which shares only a fantasy motif and a partial title with Talesworth Adventure. This is a puzzler distilled down to its purest, blocky visual'd essence. No cheap gimmicks tacked on to pad the gameplay or unnecessary story; Mr Jinx, who apparently also specialises in really awesome clothes (warning: some designs may be a bit gory for the kiddies), has given us a love letter to yesteryear, when games were more about challenge and brainpower than your graphics card. Which is not to say the 8-Bit look is also nice, but the endlessly looping retro track had me glad for the mute button after five minutes. Which, I guess, is authentic too.
The progression of difficulty and addition of new items and obstacles as you go along definitely keeps things feeling fresh, which is a good thing considering how brain-bending some of the levels can be. The easy stance on resetting means you can resort to trial-and-error if you need to, but some sort of hint system would have done wonders for my frustration. If that strikes you as the quibble of a quibbler who is maybe not so good at maze puzzles, you would be correct. What do you want from me, Questy?! Admittedly, this does make that moment of "Eureka!" all the more satisfying when it strikes.
What's nice is that the game never feels unfair. All the levels are well designed and conquering them will have you patting yourself on the back when you're not sagely stroking your chin and gazing off thoughtfully into the ether, you big, brave, brain-ninja, you. Offering a meaty feast of 30 levels and three bonus maps to test your heroic mettle against, Talesworth Adventures Episode One is a challenging retro adventure . What's next for Questy? I predict a tempestuous romance with lone adventurer, Questina. Or perhaps a duel in the pixel wastelands with evil Lord Questymort. Only time will tell!