Ready for some serious content? This week we spill the beans on two games — one brand new, the other, well, not so new. One is serious, the other... not so much. One has a pretty horsey, the other, a bench. One is in color, the other— well, you get the picture.
The Graveyard (Windows/Mac, 24.5MB, free/donationware) - The Graveyard is an interactive short from Tale of Tales, the Belgian artists behind The Path and The Endless Forest. The game has you controlling an old lady as she tours a graveyard, hobbling slowly amidst chirping birds and greyscale scenery while a dog barks in the distance.
The game is an exercise in mood and theme with a minimum of interactivity. The woman can't explore the graveyard, and if she veers off the main path the camera waits silently for you to take her back around, almost impatient in it's insistence. The tank-like control scheme, so bemoaned by fans of games like Resident Evil, makes perfect sense for controlling an enfeebled person wondering at the end of her life. Down the central path lies a bench. The woman can sit down on the bench. And... that's it!
For most intents and purposes, The Graveyard is an interesting exploration of pure aesthetic — but, if you're willing to pay $5 to unlock the "full game", you'll be able to have the woman die while pondering her life in The Graveyard. Sounds like a novel upsell to me.
King's Quest II remake (Windows, 43.4MB, freeware) - For many, King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne was before their time, or simply missed, but the heroic folks at AGD remade it with new graphics and a voice-over. This is a similar treatment given by another group of good people to King's Quest III, which is certainly the more literary and emotionally compelling game. The difference here is AGD didn't just give the game a new coat of paint, they completely re-vamped the structure, puzzles and storytelling into a vibrant homage of a classic, and even modified the map to be logically contiguous.
The subtitle of this remake is "Romancing the Stones", a play off the original, appropriate since each of the game's major quests, which end with the acquisition of a magic gem, have been romanced into enhanced versions of themselves. Added map areas, wholly new puzzles, a chase mini-game with Sharkmen in pursuit, werewolves, a Vampire who is more than one might imagine, a cranky librarian you can harass for tips; it feels like a whole new game.
The overall story has also been modified to fit into the greater saga of the series, pulling story bits for later games into a vision scene, and lacing together the game's villain with villains from other installments, painting a mysterious conspiracy of evil mages in the lining. And to top it all off, they've re-done the intro and the ending, beginning with King Graham's longing for a bride, and ending with a celebration that includes every character in the game. This was truly a labor of love.