The Fabulous Explorationsland
Who wants to go on a treasure hunt? Everybody? That's what I thought! Then grab your green backpack and safari hat, and dive into The Fabulous Explorationsland, a new adventure game from StefanT, and one of the top entries in our 6th Casual Gameplay Design Competition!
Gameplay is completely keyboard-driven, with [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move, and [space] or [enter] to interact with the environment. Menus, although few and far between, are also completely controlled with the keyboard, so you won't need your mouse at all for this one. The aim of the game is to light all of the torches and open all of the chests, with a brief list telling you what you're looking for at the beginning of each area.
There's a reason this game tied for first in fitting with the competition's "explore" theme; that's what you're going to be doing the entire time. No enemies, no time limit, just a brave adventurer with a jaunty green backpack and a hunger for hidden treasures. Although there are some visual clues to let you know where to go, you're still going to have to check every corner to work your way through to the end. From the beginning you'll only be able to explore the ancient temple, but other environments will unlock as you progress. Although the game progresses in a fairly straightforward fashion, you're free to go back and find anything you may have missed on your first trip through a level.
Analysis: With its cute graphics and quirky sense of humor, The Fabulous Explorationsland manages to capture your attention from the very beginning and keep it all the way to the end. One of the biggest challenges of creating a game revolving around exploration is trying to keep the player interested in exploring everything. Each world gives you an inventory of what you need to find, but there are a lot of little surprises to keep you interested on the way. Nearly every piece of scenery you find can be interacted with in some way, even if it's just to give you a quick description, and there are plenty of other objects to find that you didn't even know you were looking for, making you feel like you're participating in the world's most abstract scavenger hunt. Burrito shop? Check! Soccer field? Check! Jackal-headed depiction of "The Thinker"? Better believe that's a check! I think the only things you don't find here are Waldo and Carmen Sandiego, and that's probably just due to copyright issue.
Artistically, the game gets it right in every way. The background music does a good job of adding to the light-hearted atmosphere, and the bright colors make it clear from the very beginning what you can expect from the game. Each area has a different theme, with the graphics done accordingly. Even the random decorations that are scattered about the landscape seem to fit within the theme of the area they're located in. Sure, there may be a soccer field inside of a ziggurat, but it fits! It's a ziggurat-themed soccer field! The designer clearly took great care in making this game, and it shines through in all of the small details that are guaranteed to keep a smile on your face.
Packed with secrets and surprises, The Fabulous Explorationsland is a shining example of what exploration is all about, and is sure to keep you grinning all the way through.