Over the years, I’ve occasionally dabbled in a few “mouse only” point-and-click adventure games from the people at Carmel Games, namely Habla Kadabla and a few others that I never got around to writing about. They all share a very similar style, both in terms of art, humor, and puzzles, and while none so far have been anything to drop one’s jaw at, they can periodically be enjoyable and an okay way to kill thirty minutes. Not amazingly great, not terribly offensive–just these strange, small adventure titles that ask you only to click and exist in what I imagine as some kind of shared universe, where everyone stands stiffly forward, eyes wide open, voiced by one singular, ultimate power.
So, why’d I pick the subject of today’s blog post to experience? It had to be that Dakota Winchester is clearly trying to ape Indiana Jones, and any time that happens I just have to see how it goes. I mean, Indiana Jones, at least for me, made archeology exhilarating and cool, rife with danger and discovery. And before you weigh in on the current state of Doctor Jones, no, I’ve not seen (and probably won’t ever see) Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though I did play the LEGO videogame based on the film, which wasn’t terrible. Mostly due to LEGO figs.
Anyways, in the first leg of this episodic journey, intrepid Dakota Winchester travels to some island via Gustavo Cruises in hope of solving the mystery behind Hilda’s box, which is rumored to contain the secret of eternal life. However, in order to open it, he first has to find three unique rubies scattered across the globe. To do this, you speak with people, collect items, and use items on other items/people to make things happen. The main goal here is that Winchester needs to find two rings to open up a temple door, and it’s all straightforward stuff until the final puzzle, where I wasted at least five minutes not realizing there were additional layers on the rotating ring that could be moved. The “To Be Continued…” screen popped up after 21 minutes.
The second episode has a much fuller title of Dakota Winchester’s Adventures Part 2: Cactus City. That means the first episode should probably have been called something like Part 1: Gustavo Cruises or Part 1: Temple of Ring Doom. I don’t know. I’m a stickler for consistency. Anyways, this one only took me 12 minutes to find the second of three plot-vital rubies, and the gameplay structure remains the same. However, there’s one part where you need to find a pickaxe through a bunch of steps to hit a rock in a mine, but if you look in the background art for that very same mine…you’ll see a pickaxe inside a cart. Naturally, you can’t simply click on that one; a strange shortcoming.
According to the credits, James Kaylor handled the voiceover work. All of it. Yes, even the female characters, which you can hear instantly as a man trying to pitch his voice higher to speak like one of those newfangled women in their super screechy tinny talk. I can understand the difficulties in finding additional actors to help record lines, but maybe the better idea is to have it be text-only, which could use a fair shake of copyediting. Sure, you can turn the audio off, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the fact that it sounds extremely amateurish and is there from the start. Some of the music from the first two episodes comes from Kevin MacCleod–remember that awesome soundtrack from 400 Years?–so that’s at least pleasant to absorb. The background art is pretty good, too.
I have to assume there will be a third episode down the line to unearth the third ruby and see what’s ultimately inside Hilda’s box. I don’t suggest anyone play to see what happens, but I’m now at least curious enough to want to know. Maybe sooner than later I should actually play the Indiana Jones point-and-click adventure game in my collection. Y’know, the one called Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Hmm. We’ll see.