Sunday, 17 November 2013

Olav and the Lute

Olav and the Lute is a magical point and click adventure which has been heavily influenced by early Nineties game, Loom. While it only takes around 25 minutes or so to complete, its delightful mechanics, sombre setting and chunky art style make this a perfect game to play while enjoying a coffee.

Olav awakens in a deep underground cave and soon finds a fine magical lute and a broken loom. Using his newly acquired wooden instrument, Olav sets out on a quest to reactivate the loom - a task he hopes will return him to the surface.

By learning and playing music patterns, Olav can manipulate the environment and objects within it. For example, freezing a fast flowing river allows Olav to cross, while healing a giant of a terrible hangover allows the hooded protagonist to gain access to a new part of the world.

Experimenting with the four-note melodies sometimes has nothing more than a cosmetic effect, but it's fun to mess around with the environment and see what happens when a tune is played.

Olav and the Lute was created by Shelly Alon, Quirin Nebas and Daniel and Johann von Appen and is free to either download or play in your browser HERE

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Puppeteer - PlayStation 3

With its stunning presentation, wonderful art style and delightful theatrical flourishes, Puppeteer has upstaged many big name titles this year to become one of my favourite games of 2013.

Essentially, it’s a side-scrolling platform caper, but there's so much style packed into this dark, twisted pantomime that Puppeteer often feels like a completely different beast. The game follows the adventures of Kutaro, a young scamp whose soul is taken by the evil - and wonderfully named - Moon Bear King and poured into the discombobulated body of a wooden puppet.

What makes Puppeteer so special is that all the action takes place on stage in a quaint theatre, where an unseen audience whoop, cheer and applaud valiant deeds, and gasp and squeal in terror as the Moon Bear King and his minions wreak havoc. It's a quite brilliant touch and helps give Puppeteer a truly marvellous atmosphere.

Because of the game's setting, Acts are introduced by the parting of red velvet curtains, while background sets shift and change on the fly with a handmade charm not seen since Sackboy bumbled his way on to the PlayStation 3 back in 2008.
Kutaro leaps through the gorgeous sets collecting shiny trinkets and evading all manner of devious critters. But while the platforming antics are fairly standard fare, Puppeteer throws in a few neat ideas to mix things up.

The first is Ying Yang, a bedraggled feline Who the player controls via the right stick. This magical flying cat can interact with the backdrops, allowing the player to uncover secrets, snuffle out hidden golden shards and free the children who have been imprisoned by the grizzly Moon Bear King.

Kutaro also gets his little wooden hands on Cerberus early in the game - a pair of enchanted scissors which enables our puppet hero to cut through environments and slice up troublesome foes. But that's not all, as you make your way through the game, Kutaro uncovers more knick-knacks to help him on his quest.

As if this wasn't enough for Kutaro to contend with, the cheeky rapscallion has lost his head and is forced to collect makeshift noggins as he scampers around. Each of these imaginative objects is imbued with special powers and experimenting with them and watching the accompanying animation is another of Puppeteer's visual charms.
The game packs in a lot of content and there are plenty of reasons to go back and revisit the levels once you've initially polished them off. There are heads to collect and fabulous picture books to unlock, complete with wonderful paper-style animation and narrated brilliantly by Stephen Greif, who gives a blinding performance all the way through this rip-roaring adventure.

Collected heads can also be viewed, each one featuring a lovely little vignette and the models can be spun and manipulated for a closer peek at the exquisite art style. Puppeteer is also the first game since Batman: Arkham City that I played through in 3D and it truly shines. The depth of the theatre sets look splendid, while objects and characters are thrown around the screen making making it a visual treat from start to finish.

It's a spellbinding title that has me completely smitten. Even with the imminent launch of the next generation of consoles and the promise of bigger and better games, this magical title will definitely be in my top 10 come the end of the year... oh yes it will!