Aviary Attorney – Compatibility

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

System Requirements

Windows

Operating System: Windows 7, 8, or 10
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.7 and above
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard Disk: 500 MB

Windows 10

This game was designed for and works flawlessly in Windows 10.

Aviary Attorney – Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney Title Screen

Aviary Attorney was developed and published by Sketchy Logic and released in 2015. When I was reading up on this game to determine if I wanted to play it, I read a review by PC Gamer that billed Aviary Attorney as a visual novel. As I played it I did receive a choose your own adventure vibe, but as the game’s title indicates, this is a light legal sim set in 1840’s France.

The player takes the role of Monsieur JayJay Falcon. At the beginning of Aviary Attorney, Monsieur Falcon is greeted by his apprentice Monsieur Sparrowson who reads Falcon his daily mail. The letter they received is from Seigneur Purrtoir Demiaou requesting legal services on behalf of his daughter, Dame Caterline, who had been charged with the murder of Monsieur Grenwee at a dinner party they all had attended the night prior.

Black Jack Mini-game with Sparrowson

Black Jack mini-game with Sparrowson

Many role-playing games have a mechanic by which the backstory is told at the beginning of the game and then the player is greeted with a dialog asking them whether they would like to accept the quest presented to them. I have never understood this mechanic since selecting the negative option indicates the player would rather not play the game, and choosing the affirmative option is really the only logical way in which the game progresses. Aviary Attorney employs this same mechanic. Sparrowson asks Falcon if he will take on Dame Caterline’s case. A dialog greets the player. The player may choose “Of course!” or “Nope.” I chose “Nope.” to see what would happen.

Monsieur Sparrowson chided me briefly for not taking the lucrative case, but when I stuck to my guns through another presented dialog he offered instead to play a game of cards with me. Apparently I had unlocked a mini-game of Black Jack that I played briefly with Sparrowson playing as the computer player. Once I had confirmed that I understood the rules of the card game, Sparrowson made a wager with me. If he won, I would have to take Dame Caterline’s case. If I won, I could choose from a list of three mildly devastating scenarios to happen to Sparrowson. I made the wager and then handily lost the next round of play. It appears that once the wager is made the card game is rigged such that the player will always lose and be forced to then take Dame Caterline’s case – a clever use of this traditional role-playing game mechanic.

City Map Screen

City Map Screen

Each case taken on by the player in Aviary Attorney is broken up into a number of days. In the first case there are three days prior to the beginning of the trial. Each day, the player is greeted with a map of the city along with a series of known locations relevant to the case. Locations with a watch face next to them indicate a location that will take a full day to visit. Locations without a watch face may be visited prior to a location with a watch face without time passing to a new day.

I spent my first day visiting the Conciergerie Prison to meet with my client Dame Caterline and get all the information I could for the case. From there I received two additional leads, to the studio of the photographer who was invited to take photographs at the party in which Monsieur Grenwee met his untimely demise, and to the scene of the crime at Baron Rorgueil’s manor where the party took place. Both locations showed a watch face beside them on the map which seemed perfect since I had two days prior to Caterline’s trial.

A Dialog Menu

A Dialog Menu

I decided first to visit the photographer, Monsieur Robittio de Robinio, to discuss the photograph he had made on the night of the crime. Upon arriving at his studio, I found a note on his door indicating he had left for the day. I knocked on the door anyway, but there was no answer. Falcon and Sparrowson had a bantering dialog back in forth in which they were debating what to do. If they left, a day would be wasted in which the player would not be able to return. Provided in the dialog was the illegal option of breaking into the photographer’s studio and snooping around. I chose that option to see what would happen, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Aviary Attorney is a fantastic repository of clever quick witted humor and terrible puns. Sparrowson is the primary source of such comedy, but all of the players are well drawn and play their parts marvelously. This game is comedic through and through, I laughed frequently had couldn’t stop smiling throughout the initial time I have played it.

Investigation Mode - Searching for Evidence

Investigation Mode – Searching for Evidence

When the player visits a location, they are able to search through the environment looking for clues and evidence relevant to their case. These items are then compiled and written down into an evidence folder that may be used later in the court room. On the final day before the trial, I examined the grounds of Baron Rogeuil’s manor and talked to him and his housekeeper. It was discovered that his housekeeper was a kleptomaniac and had been stealing the Baron’s silverware. This led the dinner guests to have to eat without utensils on the night of the murder. These details helped me later at trial to inform the jury why Dame Caterline had blood on her hands and mouth when she had eaten a rare steak at the dinner party.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

The player may choose which statements from the witness to cross examine.

When the trial day had arrived, not only did my character Monsieur Falcon feel overwhelmingly unprepared, but I did as well. Aviary Attorney had already by this point in the first case remarkably immersed me in the world presented. The trial began in which using the evidence I had gathered the previous two days I daftly struck down the accusations presented by Rupert Rabbington, the prosecutor. After a witness has given their testimony on the stand, the player may question them based on that testimony. It is up to the player to decide how to proceed, and there is a great deal of dialog that won’t go anywhere. The jury will get frustrated with the defense if their time is wasted, so attempting to match the evidence to the testimony and questions asked will achieve the greatest results. Each time a biting piece of evidence is presented by Falcon that refutes the claims of the prosecution there is a pause and then the evidence is delivered with beaming rays shooting from Falcon across the screen. It was a comical and satisfying moment each time I did it.

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Ate a Bloody Rare Steak! (Plot thickens.)

Now that I have won my first case and Dame Caterline has been pronounced not guilty by the jury in her case, I am excited about playing the remaining cases in Aviary Attorney to see if I can complete the game. Aviary Attorney seems to be a good game to play after a long day. It will make you laugh and doesn’t require too much thinking. However, there is a decent bit of potential intellectual challenge when entering the court room to keep the player engaged. The background music chosen for the game is on point with the 1840’s setting, along with the drawn animations and artwork and the fonts used for dialog. Aviary Attorney is thus far a stellar game; I’m happy to have it in my collection.

Oxenfree – Compatibility

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

System Requirements

Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 16.04
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.8
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Windows

Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit
Processor: Intel i5 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 / Radeon HD 6750, DirectX 11 required.
Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible
Hard Disk: 3 GB

Oxenfree – Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11 Game First Impressions

Oxenfree Title Screen

Oxenfree Title Screen

I saw Oxenfree pop up in ads on Steam and GOG for some time and wound up getting it on both platforms during two separate specials. It seems like this game has developed quite a following and from the little time I have played through it, it is easy to see why. Oxenfree is a graphical, point-and-click adventure game released in January of 2016 on Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS X 10.11. It was developed and published by Night School Studio.

The player character plays the role of Alex as she goes along with her friends to camp and party for the weekend on the beach of Edwards Island. Alex’s friend Ren takes her and her new stepbrother Jonas on the last ferry of the day to the island. When they arrive, they meet up with Clarissa, who once dated Alex’s brother, and Nona who is Clarissa’s best friend.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Think fast when presented with dialog options.

Oxenfree relies heavily on auditory methods to tell its story. Even more so than most adventure games, I would advise using a pair of earphones since dialog is everything in this title. The primary game mechanic in my gameplay thus far has been how I chose my dialog when interacting with non-player characters. If you don’t choose your dialog quick enough, your option to say anything in the context of the moment disappears. If you choose your dialog too quickly, it seems like the game actually allows you to talk over people, a clever mechanic. Already around thirty minutes into the game, I want to go back and replay it. There appears to be so much rich story here that I want to continue through many, many hours of gameplay.

The party at the beach.

The party at the beach.

In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge there was a percentage notification that would tell you how far you progressed in the game each time you saved it. This progress indicator would continually depress me the further I progressed in the game because I was sorry that the game would eventually be over. I haven’t seen such a progress indicator bar in Oxenfree, but thus far it has provided me that same feeling of sadness that the game as I have been enjoying it will at some point be finished.

The game designers intentionally developed the story in such a way where the characters have such depth to be interesting in their own right, while holding a great deal back within a veil of mystery that keeps the player intrigued as to what plot twists will come next. Oxenfree’s synopsis on Steam is ominous.

Oxenfree is a supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift. You are Alex, and you’ve just brought your new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight island party gone horribly wrong.

I haven’t gotten to the ghostly rift part yet, so I hope Oxenfree retains all the charm and intrigue it has managed to muster thus far as I continue to play it.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

The radio is causing strange things to happen here in this cave.

One frustration I have had while playing Oxenfree is with understanding the controls. To my knowledge I never saw any tutorial on what button to press to interact with objects within the environment. Once I understood that I needed to stand in the right place and press the Spacebar, things became a lot easier. To the game developer’s credit, they labeled every object that can be interacted with throughout the game using a white circle. If you see a white circle, then there is an object behind it that can be interacted with. This is a remarkable thing for those who have experienced point-and-click adventure games where you just blindly click every pixel on the screen to progress at some point during the game.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Press W, A, S, or D to move.

Alex is moved by the player across the screen using the W, A, S, and D keys on the keyboard. The Ctrl key brings up a map of the island, and right-clicking the mouse button brings up the radio. These controls are presented and integrated into the storyline fairly well at the beginning of the game while Alex, Ren, and Jonas are riding the ferry to the island. As I said previously, the player must always be ready to press a dialog option when they pop up using the left mouse button, since they can disappear rather quickly.

Circles indicate interactive objects.

White circles indicate interactive objects.

I have really enjoyed playing Oxenfree thus far and I’m really excited about playing more of it in the coming weeks. I have been burned in the past by prematurely recommending adventure games that I haven’t played all the way through (I’m thinking of you, Myst.), but thus far Oxenfree has been a very intriguing adventure that has set itself apart already as one of the best, fresh adventure stories I have played in the past few years.

Syberia – Compatibility

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows XP or later
Processor: Pentium compatible 1 GHz or greater
Memory: 512 MB
Video: DirectX compatible graphics card. 128 MB.
Sound: Direct X 9.0c compatibility required.
Hard Disk: 1.2 GB

Windows 10

The GOG.com version of Syberia is fully compatible with Windows 10.

Syberia – Windows XP Game First Impressions

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia Title Screen

Syberia is a visually stunning, point-and-click adventure game released in 2002, published and developed by Microids. In some cases it was also licensed to be published by DreamCatcher Interactive under The Adventure Company brand. Today (November 10, 2017), it is available on GOG.com for free. Because of the mysterious nature of the game, I am placing a spoiler alert disclaimer here. Although I will only be offering a synopsis of the beginning of the game in this first impressions article, the game developers of Syberia did a superb job at introducing background story throughout gameplay. They divulge plot points little bits at a time to reel the player in, and reward the player with more the deeper the player explores. It is for this reason that I will say this is a fantastic game and if you like adventures you owe it to yourself to download Syberia off of GOG.com and play it without reading any further.

There is so much woodgrain in Syberia.

There is so much wood in Syberia.

For those still here I’ll go over the game mechanics and plot. The beginning objective of Syberia is straight-forward enough. You play as Kate Walker, an American lawyer sent by her firm to secure a deal to purchase the famed Voralberg toy factory in Valadilene, France, known for their automatons. Syberia plays in the third person with a stationary or slow-moving camera, zoomed out on each screen. The default mouse pointer in the game is a circle. When the circle pointer glows, there is a door that may be investigated. Frustratingly, doors that don’t go anywhere will also glow. When you click on these, Kate will inform you, “No need to go down there!” Doubly frustrating is the fact that there are more fake doors than real ones.

No need to look behind this door the game draws attention to...

No need to look behind this door the game draws attention to…

When the pointer changes into a magnifying glass, it is indicating there is a character that may be interacted with. The pointer will change into a hand when hovering over something that may be taken into inventory, and a magnifying glass with a chunk taken out of it indicates the player can use the item underneath the mouse pointer. Inventory may be accessed by right-clicking the mouse. Kate also has a cell phone accessible from inventory that she uses to keep in contact with those in America. This added component really adds depth to Kate’s character.

Some of the screens in Syberia are very large and take a great deal of time for the player to move from one side to the other. This becomes annoying when backtracking across multiple large screens. In order to compensate for this, in most cases the player may double-click in the direction they wish to go and Kate will jog to that location. Sometimes this doesn’t work. I haven’t been able to determine if this is because of a programmatic bug in the game or whether the game developers did not create animations for running in every case required.

The Voralberg Automaton Factory

The Voralberg Automaton Factory

Visually, Syberia feels a lot like Myst, but with regard to story and character, it is so much deeper than the average adventure game. Syberia also scratches the itch of the mechanical gear turning clock punk niche. There is something satisfying about seeing all of the intricate mechanical art. Even though it boggles the mind to even think about how the automatons depicted in Syberia could even work in real life, their animations are inspiring in many ways. Playing this game makes me want to take up the study of mechanical engineering.

The objective of the game seems simple. Meet with Anna Voralberg and negotiate a buy out of her factory. However, Anna Voralberg died shortly before Kate arrives to Valadilene. Easy enough, Kate will simply negotiate the buy out with Anna’s executor. But unfortunately for Kate, Anna’s brother Hans who everyone believed to be long dead is the living heir of Anna’s properties.

Hi, Oscar!

Hi, Oscar!

As play continues Kate discovers that Anna had been in contact with Hans, and that most of the automatons coming out of Anna’s factory were based on Hans’ designs. Hans’ latest designs sent to Anna were for a train and a conductor to drive the train so that Anna might come visit after Anna had closed on the sale of the factory. The first section of the game involves exploring the tiny village of Valadilene, meeting Oscar the automaton conductor, and getting the train and Oscar ready for the journey to Siberia to find Hans to purchase the factory from him. Once this is accomplished, Kate boards the train and her journey begins.

Syberia Game Disc

Syberia Game Disc

Syberia is a game I often come back to when I’m feeling under the weather and need a good relaxing game with rich story to take my mind off of how sick I’m feeling. Sometimes the background music will hit a note that would indicate an impending jump scare in any other game. So far, I have found nothing of the sort in Syberia. It’s entirely mellow and intriguing. If you are a fan of adventure games, I would strongly advise adding this one to your collection.

Beat Cop – Compatibility

Beat Cop Title Screen

Beat Cop Title Screen

System Requirements – Windows

Operating System: Windows 7/8/10
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB RAM or better, Direct X 9.0c compatibility required
Sound: DirectX compatible

System Requirements – Mac OS X

Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 or better
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7 GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB or better
Sound: Integrated

System Requirements – Linux

Operating System: Ubuntu 14.04 or SteamOS or better
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 2.7GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 3GHz or better
Memory: 4GB RAM
Video: GeForce GTX 260 1GB or better
Sound: Requires current Linux sound drivers.

Beat Cop – Windows 10 Game First Impressions

Beat Cop Title Screen

Beat Cop Title Screen

Your name is Jack Kelly. You were one of the best detectives of the NYPD before that fateful night you were called on to investigate a suspected robbery in progress. A sitting Senator’s diamonds were stolen from his safe. You shot and killed one of the suspects at the scene. Unfortunately for you, the missing diamonds were no longer at the scene of the crime, and you’ve just become a suspect.

Beat Cop, a game released in 2017 for Valve’s Steam platform, places you in the shoes of a former detective turned rookie cop that must now figure out who is framing him and clear his name. Developed by Pixel Crow and published by 11 bit Studios, Beat Cop seeks to channel the art and flare of 1980s television police dramas mixed with retro 16-bit classic Police Quest style graphics. The result is nothing short of impressive to say the least.

Morning briefing at the police station.

Morning briefing at the police station.

A new game in Beat Cop begins with Kelly’s first day with his new precinct. The game is divided into simulated days of gameplay. At the beginning of each day, Sergeant Holloway lists the tasks he wants the player to accomplish during that day. The player has a wrist watch they can use to track time during the game while they are working their shift on the street. At the end of the day, they receive a day’s recap score card that shows them how they did in accomplishing their tasks. I didn’t do so hot the first day; my performance made me want to go back through and replay it. A rewind feature is included to help you do just that.

On the street with Fat Mike.

On the street with Fat Mike.

In the first day, the police captain visits Kelly and tells him that he wants him to work on the case of the missing diamonds so he can clear his name. He says there are 21 days left until he retires, which places a 21 day time limit on the game. To add to Kelly’s growing list of challenges, it turns out his ex-wife is demanding alimony, so the player must ensure they are getting enough money from writing tickets in order to pay Kelly’s alimony bills. There are two rival gangs operating on the street where Kelly is assigned. The player through their decisions must balance their interactions with both to succeed in Beat Cop. The first day on the street serves as a tutorial. The player briefly follows Fat Mike around, a fellow officer serving out his final day before retirement. Mike teaches the player the mechanics of the game. Then it is up to the player to introduce himself to people around the neighborhood and start working out the details of Jack Kelly’s new assignment.

Beat Cop is not meant to be a realistic police simulator. Beat Cop is about making tough decisions, roughing up the bad guys, and making it as a cop out on the streets. If you have some idea of how police behavior ought to occur in a game based on real-life rule of law and civil rights, you will want to approach this game with light humor and some flexibility. There is even a disclaimer to this effect near the game’s title screen. This is a fictional game designed for entertainment purposes.

Enter any buildings to interact with people inside.

Enter any buildings to interact with people inside.

Which brings me to my only real problem with Beat Cop – the dialog. By day 2 the banter among the police officers in the daily briefing was incredibly racy and I really couldn’t figure out why. Even for police department “knock ‘em down a peg” banter, it seemed out of place. I feel like they could have made the dialog less vulgar without compromising on the classic police squad aesthetic. Despite Beat Cop’s primitive graphics, the situations and themes are at times incredibly adult oriented. Because of these vulgar dialogs and adult themes, I would not recommend that any minors play this game.

Day Recap Score Card

Day Recap Score Card

I played through the first day to receive my first underwhelming pay check. I knew I had to step up my game for the next day. Beat Cop is nicely challenging, has colorful graphics, and a killer sound track. Everything included in the game fits within its theme; Beat Cop just feels brilliant. It’s like the game designers knew what they could be good at and discarded all the rest. There’s little where I can blame this game for falling short; it’s kind of a masterpiece. If you like police-style gaming or police movies like the Lethal Weapon series, Beat Cop is an excellent title to add to your collection.

At the time this article was published, Beat Cop was available on the Humble Very Positive Bundle 2 at HumbleBundle.com. If you like what you see here, go there to see about getting a deal on the game and helping charities in the process.