The Color and the Shade

Since I had some available time this week, I went on a lark and visited the AGS forums to see what’s cooking. One link led to another, which led me to their Pick of the Month for May 2009: Fading Shades. The blurb for the POTM also reminded me of another first-person game I’ve always meant to finish – Unbound.

Walls with Torches

Fading Shades is a short first-person adventure game where the player aims to get back to her world by traversing a bridge made of rainbow colors. However, some of the crystals that produce the colors are missing, and as you attempt to find them, you will also learn about yourself, and where you’re going to.

The game’s graphics are really pleasing to the eyes, and almost all the visible surfaces of the world (except perhaps the demon tablet) are practically colors blending into either a darker or a lighter shade. The music enhanced the atmosphere further by highlighting specific parts of the game, which is appropriate for a game this size.

Starting the game, however, was like what a friend told me when she first read William Gibson’s

Where the Water Comes

cyberpunk novels: “How the f**k did I get here? What happened?” It isn’t very obvious what the player’s goals are, and I had to hazard a guess based on the color crystals list near the entrance to the rainbow bridge. “So here’s a list, and there are some colors missing from the rainbow…ok, got my job cut out for me.”

The player’s goals could have been hinted at through a background story, at least, since part of the game tells you where the player character is from. I was perfectly content with the game’s almost non-existent story until I encountered the character’s diary…which made me ask the same questions.

Until the game’s ending, of course. Nevertheless, Fading Shades remains impressive among newbie works, and should be a gentle introduction to players new to the graphical adventure game genre.

Unbound, on the other hand, pulled all the stops. Being the rather short sequel to his previous work, Heartland (which is in itself part of a trilogy), the game features the remaining days of the last member of the crew, Dr. Fielding, as he struggles to deal with his imprisonment and the result of their project.

Unbound Intro MovieAlmost all the game’s graphics is in black and white, and the author’s excellent use of blending real-life objects and cartoons (for the game’s main character, Dr. Fielding) lends a subtle breadth to the game. What I particularly liked was the quality of the graphics – it’s almost as if the author actually went to an underground research facility and photographed every inch of it.

The Prison in UnboundAlthough the game is a sequel, there wasn’t much in the game that needed figuring out. People have imprisoned you, and before they and that *other* thing outside get into your head – you need to figure out how to leave. What I do want to know is what Dr. Fielding and the others were up to before all this happened.

Which will, of course, be answered once I fire up Heartland itself. Or will it?

Can’t wait for the next part of the 3-part series to come up.