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Many commonalities fondly recall the adventure era of PC gaming, back when purchasing a game didn’t mean beating it and there were no walkthroughs to guide you into solving the cryptic puzzles. At that time PC adventure games, unlike their console counterparts, didn’t require skill or reflexes, but rather patience, wit and persistence. They presented the player with gripping stories or humorous situations and each problem in the game was solvable only by the sharpest of thinkers. Long has since that age been forgotten by most, but die hard fans refuse to move on from the fascinating genre. Luckily enough, some developers are just as reminiscent of the time and are more than ready to bring the nostalgia back, and with crowd-funding options like Kickstarter, these games are now becoming a reality. One such game is Quest for Infamy, a point-and-click adventure which raised over $60,000 and gave hope to adventuresome fanatics everywhere. Does the game manage to bring you back to that golden age of the 90′s, or does it fall flat?
Quest for Infamy‘s gameplay stays largely the same but refines the already familiar points and introduces new modern mechanics to make an even more enticing experience. After escaping an angry baron, the cynical protagonist, Roehm, lands in an alien world where choosing whose side he’s on and what he’ll do falls upon the player. The game largely bases its likability on the humorous dialogues and situations Roehm gets himself in, with the lack of point and direction in the start only making the situation even more ridiculous. While the game soon does get a goal and a fantastically well written plot as mysteries arise all around you, the world moves and progresses unrelated to what the player does, making it seem alive and moving. However this isn’t only a point-and-click adventure game as it tries to combine certain RPG elements in the already established core. Some of these work to immerse you further in the plot while some of them feel tedious and tacked on. Having to eat, sleep and manage your money as time moves on, for instance, make it fairly challenging to go out at night, but they do well in making you feel like you are a part of the game world, something not a lot of games excel in. Sadly the combat is simply abysmal, lacking any kind of depth or ingenuity.
The world itself is beautifully made, every background flawlessly representing the diverse atmospheres and locations. The nostalgic art-style coupled with the small resolution and mandatory windowed mode do well in capturing that classical adventure climate, and are sure to bring any avid player back to that special age of gaming. From the lush forests to the medieval towns, this fairy-tale like world never ceases to amaze, and the events that periodically occur throughout the game make it feel alive.
This is also coupled with an excellent soundtrack that fits just as well as the visuals and manages to pull off every atmosphere impeccably well. And since there’s an insurmountably large amount of them, at no point will they get old so you will oft have a hard time leaving the screen you’re on simply because of the terrific tune playing in the background. The sound design further proves to be well made with the voice acting, speeding up the classical process of having to read every dialogue line. While the voice acting is cheesy for the most part, this is intentional and when the game gets serious the cast does a good job in doing so as well. Not to mention each character has their own personal actor behind them making the world even more immersing than it already is. Special props need to be given to the sarcastic narrator who delivers each line as humorously and condescendingly as possible, giving the entire game more personality.
Technicalities aside, this is still largely a point-and-click adventure game, and since the world is foreign to both you and Roehm, exploring it and learning about it can be satisfying. In fact the story and setting are one and the same, building atop one another as you progress – it’s very open-ended structure. There’s also a lack of hand holding as you can do as little or as much as you want in this stunningly realistic world, and this allows you to organically learn about the environment as opposed to just giving you info, making every conclusion gratifying. You will have to write down notes as you study the magnificent structures and learn about the intriguing and cheerful places you visit, whether it’s by finding items or conversing with the characters. The inclusion of a journal could have made this game a lot easier though, as some of the information you gain is easily forgotten. Since the game is far from linear, you can choose which characters to side with and how to go about playing the many sub-plots and quests that litter the game, which blend perfectly with both the world and setting. Not one person will have the same experience as every choice impacts the plot and tailors the rest of what will happen.
Since the game does feature such a vast and open world with varied locations and atmospheres, it becomes harder and harder to actually solve the presented problems. The usual puzzle structure is just as difficult to figure out as any of the games of yore, meaning you won’t be able to simply solve a puzzle by going from point A to point B, but will mostly likely have to run across points A, B, C and D just to get a piece of the puzzle solved, made even harder by the enclave of distractions and side quests which all offer more opportunities for new adventures and loot. And since there’s always only a slight hint and/or lead as to what you might have to do, actually drawing conclusions and managing to solve the puzzles is acutely enjoyable. The puzzles are focused more on exploration, dialogue and most importantly experimentation and then drawing conclusion from the information that you have rather than the usual mini games, even though these aren’t lacking either. And since you’ll usually prematurely get the items you require, seeing how the seemingly random trinkets fit into the story never fails to amuse.
Exploration sadly isn’t all rainbows and flowers, as your clicks have to be extraordinarily accurate to move on to the next screen and Roehm may sometimes glitch out while you’re trying to get him to do something.
Quest for Infamy isn’t lacking in problems, and it sometimes doesn’t even attempt to fix a lot of the ones the games of yore held, but it also manages to wholly bring you back into the nostalgic world of adventure games with captivating plots and witty dialogue. The large and diverse world feels alive as the player can decide how much or how little he wants to get involved with the unique characters and intriguing sub plots. The setting and story build on top of one another to create an unforgettable and believable experience and they both immerse you in the overall silliness of the quirky story. And while there are some design flaws, namely the awful combat system, pointless grinding and awkward controls, some of the layered puzzles, beautiful locations and enticing events will surely draw you in and lead to satisfying conclusions. Whether you’re experimenting with items or organically learning about the world, the game is sure to draw you in. Just don’t be fooled, this isn’t a game made for people with short attention spans and a desire to let off steam, this is a sophisticated game that makes you think and perhaps makes you laugh here and there. Quest for Infamy‘s wittiness is undeniable and it’s unique and organic flow of gameplay and story will leave even the veterans of this genre scratching their heads, trying to figure out some of the complex puzzles and mysteries in the hours of fun challenge this game provides.