Reviews by NorthernSpruce

Nightmare Adventures: The Witch's Prison Icon
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Jan 2nd 2014

This game is not very long but you get a terrific variety of puzzles to solve. There is some hidden-object gameplay but by and large these are integrated with many others. Some are quite challenging and most are clever. A few gaffes - your charcater throws away a crowbar after one use that she could have used a few minutes later on - but generally a solid, pleasant, entertaining couple of hours.

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Montague's Mount Icon
Really frustrating
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 30th 2013

I could barely start this game: the interface is so bad. You play a character who awakes, amnesiac, on a beach. The character doesn't see too clearly and can't walk well so you kind of stagger around slowly in the gloom, painfully trying to interact with objects. The screen is rarely still, so trying to focus on an object to click it is maddening. This constant swaying also creates a lag between your inputs and what happens on the screen, so it can multiple tries just to click on a stationary object. I cannot express how quickly this becomes a major frustration. I have asked for a refund.

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A New Beginning - Final Cut Icon
Really enjoyable
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 24th 2013

This is a very good game. I'll get my quibbles out of the way first: the sound editing isn't great, and dialogue sometimes jumps from one sentence to another without a pause, or a stock phrase in a monotone voice will follow another panicked exclamation: not very realistic.

The premise is built around global warming and climate change, and this is very well done: a realistic imagining of what the future is likely to be and a drama arising from the imperative to repair the harm we've done. The puzzles are very good, varied, challenging, and mostly logical. The characters ar einteresting though mot exactly likeable, for the most part.

I really liked it and would recommend it.

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Journey of a Roach Icon
Promising, but many headaches
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 23rd 2013

JOAR takes place in a (mostly) underground world of caverns and control rooms. It is dominated by an unexplained conflict between roaches and other insects (and spiders) on the one hand, and miliarized ants on the other, though the real goal is to get one roach back to a flower he came across. So, as you can see, flaw #1 is a confused and confusing storyline. What you can make sense of, though, is sometimes funny and even touching.

There is no dialogue; instead, sometimes thought bubbles appear with cartoons of what's going through the character's mind. This could be rather pleasant, except the cartoons are often not very clear, which makes solving the puzzles harder. Flaw #2.

Flaw #3, alas, is the poor quality of many of the puzzles. Some are good, most are very challenging, but many just don't make any sense. When they don't make sense, you can't figure out solutions but most resort to random combinations of objects, and that is not fun or satisfying. To be honest, without a walkthrough I would have given up in annoyance.

Flaw #4 is a little shortcoming in the interface. In most point-and-click games, when you click anywhere in a scene on a hotspot, the character walks over to pick it up or use it. In JOAR, the character just stands there complaining that it is too far away. You have to move it closer and then try again. The scenes are cluttered and the roaches can walk on side walls (but not rear walls!) and ceilings so moving around is not always obvious. A little shortcut for interacting would have been nice.

It isn't a very long game, but probably acceptable for the price (I got it on sale for $5). I wouldn't enthusiastically recommend it, but I did derive some enjoyment from it.

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Type:Rider Icon
Unusual but excellent
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 21st 2013

A very unusual concept - a journey through the history of typography from the perspective of a coiple of dots - but the game is beautifully made, challenging, instructive and satisfying to play. I liked it a lot. Good for a few hours of play. Each level has slightly different kinds of challenges you need to beat.

I am not very fond of games requiring speed or coordination/reflexes and not very good at them; I was able to get through most of this game although some challeneges were pretty tough for me. If you really don't like games involving reflexes, you may not enjoy this one as much.

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Contraption Max Icon
Well-made but not entertaining
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 19th 2013

I downloaded Contraption Max last week and have played it a couple of times this week, but though it is very well made, it is not very imaginative or entertaining. (The story is fun, but the actual gameplay is not). The one and only goal is to re-arrange pieces into conveyor belts and remove hindrances to their functioning (e.g. blocks of ice, hostile robots). This would be great as an occasional puzzle within a larger or more diverse game, but as the essence of a game it is not entertaining or interesting for very long.

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Pahelika: Secret Legends HD Icon
Not as good as the sequel
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 19th 2013

This game is quite short, but like the sequel it has a good variety of puzzles at various levels of difficulty. The hint system is helpful. The story is a little corny but it doesn't matter too mcuh as the game is really about the puzzles.

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Deponia Icon
Can't play this on a MacBook Air
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 11th 2013

There comes a point where the dialogue options don't display correctly on the screen; the options that would at least allow you to leave the conversation are hidden, so you can't continue the conversation, can't continue the game, and can't save or chnge settings without force quitting. I have a MacBook; the same bug happens whether it's full-screen or windowed mode. Basically a waste of time and I don't understand how such an elementary bug was allowed to occur. Don't bother buying it; you won't be able to play [on a MacBook Air].

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The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles Icon
Really good
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Dec 8th 2013

The puzzles are challenging and original, the story fun, and you get many hours of play. I prefer it to the first Unwritten Tales, though that one was quite good.

Initially Critter's gibberish is annoying, but I got used to it and came to find it endearing. And there is a a pattern to his dialogue that provides some clues.

One criticism is the needlessly snarky portrayal of an environmental activist - I can see people being offended by it, and for no reason.

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Pahelika: Revelations HD Icon
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 30th 2013

This was a really enjoyable game - puzzle-centred, beautifully rendered scenes, and the puzzles are challenging, varied and clever. The story is so-so but it really doesn't matter - the game provides quite a few hours of entertaining puzzles. At this price especially, I definitely recommend it.

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Don't Starve Icon
Impressive but dull
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 23rd 2013

It really is a very impressive game with a huge and growing world and lots of gadgets and things to collect. However, the game for me has been this: forage during the day and keep the fire going at night, or else you die.

That's pretty much it.

I don't enjoy it and especially don't enjoy dying frequently.

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Dream Chamber Icon
Nice aesthetic, not very entertaining or challenging
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 17th 2013

Excellent voice-acting, nice 1920s aesthetic, fun dialogue and characters, selection of decent mini-games mixed into main game

Pretty short, puzzles not very challenging, story not great; peculiar feature of Charlie's "dream state" is almost an afterthought when it could have been much better used

On the whole, not recommended, but not terrible.

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Big Brain Wolf Icon
Worth it
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 9th 2013

This game is well-suited to different ages, the atmosphere is light and comical and the puzzles are quite varied and generally challenging. I found it entertaining and a pleasant diversion.

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The Tiny Bang Story Icon
One more thumbs up
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 9th 2013

I will add my voice to the chorus of reviewers praising this game here. I like games with a variety of puzzle styles and a light tone (rather than heavy or dark). This game is really nice to look at, entertaining and satisfying to play, and a real challenge at times.

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A Vampire Story Icon
Nice effort
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 3rd 2013

A lot of effort went into this game but there is *so* much talking and the puzzles are are not that interesting. Bugs throughout: at points it is impossible to save or quit so you have force quit and lose any progress, and at points there is no way to fast forward the lengthy speeches with the space bar. The humour was pretty vulgar, and torture is often used as a comic theme, which I find offensive. I regret wasting money on this since I don't enjoy it at all.

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Lilly Looking Through Icon
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Nov 3rd 2013

I love it. It is sweet and quirky and challenging and beautiful, and it is about the only game I have played where I did not want to mute the music after three minutes. It's perfect for all ages - nothing vulgar or violent, but enough adventure and puzzlement to keep anyone busy and entertained.

Big downside: Much too short. Geeta Games, give us more!

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The Cameron Files - Secret at Loch Ness Icon
Quite satisfying
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Oct 26th 2013

Overall a very enjoyable game. The voice acting is not bad, the castle and surroundings are really well drawn and you can explore extensively, the story is pretty good and your character is a fine, decent fellow.

The puzzles are mostly straightforward (a few are not intuitive at all, however). It has suffered a bit from being adapted from PC - the interface is a little stilted and static at times - but it is good for several hours of mildly challenging and entertaining play.

There are a couple of timed puzzles but even I, who am no good at timed and reflex based puzzles, was able to complete them without much stress.

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Stacking (old publish) Icon
Really good
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Sep 9th 2013

- Excellent hint system (I needed it!)
- Creative, fun and clever story
- Good puzzles
- Excellent aesthetic - nice graphics, appealing fonts
- You definitely get your money's worth - hours of play

- Music can't be muted in Options, and it is a little repetitive and grating
- On my Macbook Air, there is an irritating glitch when the character moves: white patches flash all over the screen. Not enough to interfere with play
- There is one boss battle that requires a bit more speed and coordination, tiresome if (like me) you don't like that sort of thing. By and large the game requires skill and cleverness, not speed and coordination, so this a minor quibble.

On the whole, definitely recommended.

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Kairo Icon
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Aug 28th 2013

The graphics are actually quite a bit better than the screenshots suggest. It's a nice, quiet, reflective game, no violent deaths or anything, challenging puzzles. The lack of other people makes it a lonely environment, and you never really know why you are navigating through the rooms and solving the puzzles. I think there may be a bug that prevented me from finishing the next-to-last level. I wouldn't really recommend it; at the price, you get your money's worth in terms of hours of play but I didn't really look forward to playing and finishing.

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Creative but infuriating
by NorthernSpruce, Canada - Aug 19th 2013

It is an appealing, extremely creative game in many ways and the mechanics of the game very impressive, but 24 chapters of trying to keep the bleak little fellow from dying gets a little old. That's the game: there is no story, just a little dude who gets impaled, poisoned, drowned, dismembered by a circular saw, killed by falling, and you manipulate boxes and switches to keep it from happening. It seemed appealing at first but as it became clear that there was no story to advance and nothing new chapter after chapter but more challenging ways to avoid being killed, it became less and less entertaining.

I am also disappointed that it required mostly speed and reflexes rather than problem-solving skill. I am not good at games that require reflexes so this added to my frustration. Definitely would not recommend it.

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