Reviews by NorthernSpruce

Return to Mysterious Island Icon
Sets the standard
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 27th 2014

This is one of the first adventure games I played when I got into gaming and it set a high standard in my mind for the genre that is rarely attained. The game is clever, challenging, rich in environments and smart puzzles, with a diverse inventory and a wide array of puzzles. Really a lot of fun and you get your money's worth in terms of time and entertainment.

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Nancy Drew: The Deadly Device Icon
Good enough to play more than once!
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 26th 2014

I really liked the setting of this one - a remote laboratory - and actually liked it enough to play it through again after a couple of years. There is diverse and developed cast of characters and many puzzles, some really tough. Recommended.

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River Simulator 2012 Icon
Relaxing, pleasant
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 26th 2014

It's not a very complex game - you pilot an array of river craft down the rivers of Germany - but you get to play with the different controls for speed and direction as well as navigation and collision-avoidance tools. The cities are rendered quite nicely as well. There isn't much of an objective - you deliver cargoes of various kinds up and down the river - but it provides some nice, peaceful escapism!

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LEVEL 22, Gary's Misadventures Icon
Mediocre
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 26th 2014

To be fair, the game description didn't promise much more than what you get: an arcade-style game of trying to sneak through 22 levels without getting caught. There are a few puzzles to solve along the way but probably the biggest defect is how far back you have to go every time you get caught. I just couldn't take replaying the same inane steps over and over because there are too few save points, so I just gave up. Otherwise I might have been up to making my way through methodically.

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Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion Icon
Not the best ND
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 21st 2014

Convoluted story and convoluted puzzles - not up to the usual ND standards. I like most of the other ND titles but this one can be skipped

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The Whispered World Special Edition Icon
Just too unwieldy
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 21st 2014

The interface with the scenes and objects is plodding and time-consuming and saps the game of interest and dynamism. The story may be well-done and the puzzles clever but I just found it too boring to continue

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1954 Alcatraz Icon
Regret money spent
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 21st 2014

This one is well made with evocative scenes and artwork but I could not get into the interface - you travel using a map of San Francisco and play as two different characters, and small steps sometimes require lengthy puzzles and plodding searches. I couldn't get into it and didn't come close to finishing. The dialogue/themes are a little dark and racy, which I do not care for when I am playing for light entertainment/mental stimulation.

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Memoria Icon
Huge
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jun 21st 2014

This must require massive amounts of drive space - I simply can't get it to play on my MacBook Air, no matter how much space I clear up. It takes forever to download and won't run for me.

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Syberia Icon
Good-quality nostalgia
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - May 24th 2014

The steampunk aesthetic of this game is terrific; the voice-acting can be grating and the movements are a little stilted, reflecting the style of older games. The story is fun. The puzzles are pretty good although occasionally don't make much sense, and I found the biggest flaw to be the standard flaw of Anuman games for Mac that were originally made for PC: you can clearly see what you need to do in each scene because the gear or hand icon is prominently displayed by default. There is no investigating or searching to do, which makes for pretty easy puzzles. But those gorgeous scenes make it worthwhile!

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The Inner World Icon
Tiresome
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Mar 29th 2014

Visually amazing, the puzzles are not that interesting or satisfying and the story is dull. You have to endure a lot of tiresome dialogue (fortunately skippable). I don't recommend it.

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Eschalon: Book III Icon
Perfect
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Mar 10th 2014

The Eschalon series is excellent and this third instalment was the best of the three. I am a casual gamer and I really like many things about Eschalon III: it is turn-based, so you don't need reflexes or hand-eye coordination, but the battles are tough so you need to think and plan and explore. The world is huge and full of treasures, hidden perils and secret spots. Th enemies are varied and some of them very difficult to beat but with time, effort and the right weapons they can all be defeated. You have a lot of control over your character's stats and abilities and some real choices to make about how the game unfolds. It took me about 25 hours to reach the end so you get your money's worth. I definitely recommend it and I wish there were an Eschalon IV to look forward to, but I bet Basilisk Games will not disappoint whatever their next project is.

A small but pleasant surprise is that the music is quite well done: it doesn't grate or make one weary.

Good work!

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Namariel Legends: Iron Lord Collector's Edition Icon
Steampunk adventure
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Feb 9th 2014

A delightful steampunk adventure with excellent and varied puzzles and a fun story. Many hours of play in dozens of different locales. There is a brief segment where the writers seem to have lost their minds: you must float an airship with ridiculous creatures called wibby wobblies or something, and around the same time an excruciatingly annoying kid shows up for a few scenes, with stilted faux-archaic and faux-rural dialogue delivered in a Midwestern monotone. Fortunately he disappears pretty quick. The only real flaw in an excellent game.

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Tesla's Tower: The Wardenclyffe Mystery Icon
Good balance
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Feb 2nd 2014

This is more puzzle and adventure than hidden object, though there is a good dose of all these elements. The story is fun, the voice acting is quite good, and the puzzles generally challenging and entertaining. Some puzzles are quite simple, a couple are very difficult, but altogether fun and well-made and suitable for people who prefer puzzles to hidden object. It took me about five hours, so it's a little short for the price, but not bad!

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Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy Icon
Gold standard
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 26th 2014

This is the best of the Nancy Drews so far. It's the gold standard of puzzle adventure games: the puzzles are clever and challenging and varied, you get many hours of gameplay, you learn a lot and the scenes are really picturesque. The storyline can be a little odd and the characters sometimes a little annoying, but that's typical of Nancy Drew. This is an excellent game and I strongly recommend it. Incidentally, I received a warning from Macgamestore that my computer did have the right specs to play this game - the video RAM on my MacBook Air was supposedly not high enough - but I took a chance and it plays just fine.

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Left in the Dark: No One on Board Icon
Not bad
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 19th 2014

It's pretty short but the puzzles are very well done. There are many hidden-object puzzles but a good selection of other kinds as well. I don't care too much for hidden-object but there was enough variety of good puzzles to make it worthwhile.

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Margrave: The Blacksmith's Daughter Icon
Offbeat but diverting
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 19th 2014

The theme and storyline of this game is definitely eccentric (you have to suspend disbelief and not ask too many questions about the oddball world in which the game takes place) but it provides quite a few hours of play. It isn't mainly a hidden-object game, which suited me fine - there is a good variety of puzzles. I enjoyed it.

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Noire Icon
Wooden, slow and aggravating
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 19th 2014

You play a stiff stick figure who moves very slowly around the screen. Mistakes when solving puzzles often lead to death and require starting over a chapter from scratch - which means moving slowly and painfully through uninteresting puzzles you have already solved before - maybe many times, if a particular challenge keeps blocking you. The inability to use the characer's hands means even small mistakes in moving boxes and planks requires a restart since you can't make small adjustments. Stiff gameplay, no flexibility and dull puzzles makes for a bad combination. Not enjoyable.

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Battle Fleet Icon
Decent at the price
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 19th 2014

It is a diverting little strategy game; there aren't very long or complex campaigns or many options, but it is a decent inexpensive diversion with realistic physics.

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Finding Teddy Icon
Adequate
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 19th 2014

Not outstandingly clever or challenging, but it features a good variety of puzzles and an interesting (albeit fantastical) storyline. You help a child find her teddy bear. The musical puzzles are pretty clever. Not my favourite game, but pretty well made and entertaining.

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Knytt Underground Icon
Okay
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 6th 2014

My original review for this game read:
"This is a terrific little game. The challenges and storyline are interesting and varied, the mood offbeat and upbeat, the gameplay smooth and entertaining. The specs warned that this game wouldn't work with my video RAM but I tried the demo and it worked fine, so after playing most of the demo I took a chance and bought it. So far, so good. Recommended."
This was after playing two of the three chapters.
I am still trying to get through Chapter 3 which is exponentially, magnitudes longer than the first two. This could be a real plus if the game kept introducing new elements or a sense of progress, but it feels interminable. The same kinds of challenges just keep repeating, punctuated by quests that never seem to go anywhere. Most bizarrely, the friendly, upbeat theme is periodically interrupted by R-rated tirades and opinionated rants on controversial subjects, totally unnecessary for the game. So I can't keep up the original five stars. Get it if it's on sale and you want many monotonous hours of gameplay. The scenes are exquisite, I must admit.

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