Tag Archives: Linux

Thimbleweed Park, PC

Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure, released in 2017 by Terrible Toybox, and co-created by ex-LucasArts employees Gary Winnick and Ron Gilbert.

In case you didn’t know: both Gilbert and Winnick have been involved in the making of some of the best games of all time, including (but not limited to) titles such as: Ballblazer, Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Day of the Tentacle.

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Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, PC

Planescape: Torment is a highly regarded – if somewhat bizarre – Infinity Engine-driven level-grinder that was first released in 1999.

This new remake – released in 2017 – was developed by Beamdog, using the same enhanced engine as developed for their Baldur’s Gate remakes. Which is great in my opinion because the new engine is brilliant.

Unlike the Baldur’s Gate games, Planescape: Torment‘s gameplay is more structured around conversations, and working out solutions to problems via diplomacy, rather than by force (although there is plenty of combat in the game, if you want some). So the game has a lot of ‘hidden’, experience-awarding conversation options that you can find to boost your levelling. Without a walkthrough, though, you might struggle to find some of it the first time around and may miss it.

Playing as the “Nameless One”, with a floating skull sidekick (called Morte), you must escape the confines of a large and creepy-looking mortuary in order to regain your memory. A group of pseudo-religious cultists dressed in robes (called Dustmen) appear to be running the show and a long and involving mystery involving many quests and side-quests must be unravelled in order to get anywhere near completing the game.

Rather than feature bows and arrows, in this you get to attack your enemies from afar with ‘charms’ that unleash various nasties on them, like corpse flies. You also find many and varied magic items embedded inside bodies (including your own), that are acquired (usually) through conversation. You can also upgrade yourself by stitching yourself up… Planescape: Torment has a dark and humorous – and quite gory – setting, with death and dead bodies being a major part of the plotline. It’s all very light-hearted, though, and not at all distasteful (in the context of the story), or gratuitous. It is definitely quite an ‘adult’ game though. I can’t see many young kids having the patience to play it.

And this new enhanced edition gives Planescape: Torment a new lease of life, which it really deserves. It’s arguably the best Infinity Engine game out there, although it won’t appeal to everyone. Special mention must go to the music, which is haunting, atmospheric and beautifully produced.

Without a doubt Planescape: Torment is an imaginative masterpiece of fantasy weirdness – well worth playing by anyone who loves RPGs.

Click: Original Planescape: Torment on The King of Grabs.

More: Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition on Wikipedia
Steam: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Dark Forces, PC

Dark Forces is LucasArts‘ attempt at Doom, with a Star Wars make-over. It was first released in 1995 for MS-DOS PCs.

Looking at it now: it hasn’t aged too well, although it’s still fun to play if you get the controls set up correctly.

Graphically Dark Forces is a mix of 3D environments and 2D characters, typical of the time. Gameplay-wise it’s a simple first-person shooter, with some tricky door/key puzzles and even some platforming. It’s not a particularly easy game either because the baddies tend to kill you quickly if you just lumber around. You have to be quite careful when entering a new area. You can’t save a game mid-way through a level either, so must start again if you lose all your lives. Having ‘lives’ in a first-person shooter is unusual too…

Still, Dark Forces was revolutionary for the time. Getting to blast your way through reams of Imperial Stormtroopers was what every gamer (and big kid) wanted to do back in the mid-Nineties, and this let us do just that. So Dark Forces was a critical and commercial success. Enough of a success to spawn a long-running series.

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II upped the ante in 1997 by taking the series fully 3D.

More: Dark Forces on Wikipedia
Steam: Dark Forces on Steam
GOG.com: Dark Forces on GOG.com

Planescape: Torment, PC

Created by Black Isle Studios using the BioWare‘s acclaimed Infinity Engine, Planescape: Torment is a classic Role-Playing Game with isometric graphics and a simple point-and-click interface.

The game takes place in the TSR/Wizards of the Coast D&D fantasy realm of Planescape – a setting comprised of various planes of existence that cover the whole of cosmology. And a place where things usually happen in threes.

It doesn’t specifically say which D&D ruleset Planescape: Torment actually uses (which they normally do for Infinity Engine games), but I would guess at a customised Wizards of the Coast 3rd Edition D&D ruleset.

You play a character called The Nameless One – an immortal man with amnesia, trying to get his memory back. You begin the game as a Fighter class character, but as the story progresses you can change to become a Thief and/or a Wizard. You can also recruit companions – up to four at one time.

As you’re immortal: if you die you are resurrected in another location with no obvious penalty. What you don’t know (at least initially) is that: every time you are resurrected someone else in the Planescape multiverse must die to fuel your resurrection, and these people who die turn into ghosts who will then seek revenge upon you…

Planescape: Torment is a very strong story-driven game. There is combat, but it is not a major part of the game. The game often relies on dialogue and conversation choices to resolve quests, rather than fighting. If you want to duke it out: you can, but diplomacy and stealth can get you around most battles.

Planescape: Torment was first released in 1999 and is considered by many to be the best game using the Infinity Engine. It was initially published by Interplay Entertainment. An enhanced edition (also containing the original version) is available to buy now, from various outlets.

If you’ve never played Planescape: Torment, and you love CRPGs, then you’ll have to rectify that situation at some point.

Note: These grabs are from the original CD-ROM version, not the remake.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planescape:_Torment
Steam: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on Steam
GOG.com: Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition on GOG.com

Quake, PC

Doom was good, but Quake – for me – was where id Software really broke the First-Person Shooter mould, with a game far ahead of anything else at the time – even their own games.

What made Quake so special back then was the engine upgrade. The Quake Engine used proper perspective. You could look up and down (you can in Doom, but it looks crap) – and, most importantly, you could “freelook” with the mouse. Opening the way for proper WSAD and mouse controls – a standard that persists to this day. That all started with Quake.

Quake also opened-up network (and online) multiplayer for First-Person Shooters, although it was Quake II that standardised them and made the process of connecting to servers easy.

Playing Quake single-player is still a thrilling experience. The use of light and dark in the game is phenomenal – very much ahead of its time. Lights flicker and lit areas plunge into darkness, to heighten the tension.

The monsters in Quake are also pretty special. Not only are they all modelled in glorious 3D (unlike in Doom, where all the monsters are 2D sprites that always face you), but their behaviour is also quite unique and interesting too. Fiends jump at you; Death Knights throw firey arrows at you; Vores fire explosive homing crystals at you; and zombies throw their own blood at you! And then there’s the Shambler – the legendary ‘boss creature’ that looks like a cross between a polar bear and the spawn of Satan… The Shambler has big claws with which to tear you apart, and also has an electricity attack that can singe all the hairs off your body with one ‘poof’. Once you meet a Shambler, you never forget it…

Still available to buy from various outlets, and still very much worth playing, id Software‘s Quake is one of the best games ever made and a solid gold retro-gaming classic.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quake_(video_game)
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2310/QUAKE/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/quake_the_offering

Neverwinter Nights, PC

BioWare‘s 2002 release, Neverwinter Nights, is a bit of a giant on the RPG scene.

Not only is it a detailed and engrossing Role-Playing Game par excellence, but it also plays host to a huge modding community. It’s also well-known as a multiplayer game too and features campaigns that can be played single or multi-player, and also features Player-versus-Player (PvP) combat.

As a single-player game Neverwinter Nights is a treat for anyone who loves RPGs. The Aurora Engine is a little clunky at times (inventories especially), but is more than capable of making any scenario enjoyable and engrossing.

Playing Neverwinter Nights feels like a mixture of Fallout and Warcraft – mixing real-time and turn-based gameplay with a multi-character party/control system. The game is a mixture of exploration, dialogue, and tactical combat and uses 3D graphics to represent the game world (unlike BioWare‘s previous games, which used 2D graphics). And – like any good RPG – the quests come thick and fast and are managed in your journal. Items, spells, weapons and armour are organised via pop-up menus.

When you enter combat you are encouraged to use the game’s extremely useful ‘pause’ function. Like ‘VATS’ in Fallout 3 (or Fallout New Vegas), combat in Neverwinter Nights features the ability to stop the action; move the camera; and stack up commands, all while the action is paused. You can play the combat out in real time if you’re good enough, but the pause feature definitely tips the balance in your favour. Followers and party members can also be macro-managed very precisely using this ‘stop time’ function, or you can leave the AI to let them do what they want. It’s good to have the choice. Once you’ve gotten used to the control system, though, you’ll see that this is a seriously complex and tactical game – very challenging in places; especially on the hardest difficulty setting.

One aspect of Neverwinter Nights that I love is the music. It reminds me of Bernard Hermann‘s classic movie scores that he made for Ray Harryhausen‘s famous films (particularly 7th Voyage of Sinbad), with a sprinkling of more modern John Williams. There are a couple of musical cues that seem very familiar, but to me it makes the game comforting – even though the gameplay is very tense at times.

I can’t recommend Neverwinter Nights highly enough if you like RPGs.

The 2006 sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, is more of the same and just as good, and better looking overall.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwinter_Nights
GOG.com: Neverwinter Nights Diamond Edition on GOG.com
Steam: Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition on Steam