Evidently, I still have a bunch of Ben Chandler’s earlier point-and-click adventure games downloaded on my laptop, waiting patiently. Ready to be played, like good little patients. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. That is, only if I use my mouse cursor to click on them and hit “run.” That might not sound like a tricky puzzle, but some days, some cold, tired, lonely nights, it can be a true struggle to do anything other than crawl under the heated blanket with a cat and burn the dark hours with a continuous stream of Netflix. That said, I decided to check out Awakener over the weekend and was surprised to discover it was both a short and straightforward experience, peppered with wall-breaking humor and flashy animations, like when Fadi finds the dagger.
Here’s the deal. A nine-year-old boy called Fadi thirsts for adventure much in the same way a drowning man thirsts for air. Er, no. That’s probably too dramatic. So, when asked to retrieve a potion from the local store by his Aunt Sylvia, he sees this straightforward challenge as much more, as a not so simple task. With point-and-click adventure games, it never really is anyways. In order to retrieve this potion, this Spirit of Hartshorn, which should be potent enough to wake the sleeping man outside his aunt’s home, Fadi will have to jump through some non-literal hoops, supplying people he meets with just what they need to give up whatever item they have to help him progress. I mean, that statue isn’t going to dress itself.
As it turns out, Awakener takes place across a single screen, though it does scroll left and right, so you could argue that it is like three rooms connected with no loading. This is not a detriment, as some developers can do a lot with a little. I personally liked the bite-size environment to scour, as it never felt overwhelming, and the backtracking only took a few clicks. You’re in a sort of open market area, with a couple houses and a bar, though you can’t go inside anywhere; no worries, as everyone you need to converse with for puzzle actions is outside, getting some fresh fantasy-limned air. Just like Chandler’s other earlier works, such as Fragment and ~airwave~ – I Fought the Law, and the Law One, the characters and environments are brightly colored, zany, with some nontraditional takes on geometry.
Awakener‘s puzzles are all item-based, which means speaking with someone to figure out what item they need or how to get the item they already have. You’ll never hold too much in your inventory at one time, which keeps things pretty simple to figure out. The solutions are fairly obvious, like helping an assassin on her assassination quest, though I did get stuck for a minute or two on how to obtain the soldier’s pike, not realizing it was a timing issue. Also, if I recall–it’s been a few days now–all puzzles are solved using a single item on a second single thing, with very little item combining at play.
Ultimately, this is a short, early comedic stab from Ben Chandler, one still worth checking out if you have a few minutes to spare and like clicking on things. The dialogue is amusing, especially if you are a fan of adventure games and can take a few jokes at a genre you enjoy, though don’t expect much in the sound department. You can grab a free copy of the game over this a-way.