Tag Archives: Fragment

2014 Game Completed Comics, #12 – Fragment

2014 games completed 12 - fragment facebook

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

Studying human memory and emotions in Fragment

fragment rara copy

Fragment, one of the fourteen point-and-click adventure games found stuffed inside the AGS Bake Sale bundle, is the final product of a team effort from Ben Chandler and Sebastian Pfaller. It’s a much more serious story than I’m used to with Chandler’s games, like picking up a Roald Dahl novel only to discover it’s really some new shadowy tome by William Gibson. Still, it’s an enjoyable hour and change of puzzle-solving, but maybe not the happiest. Definitely unnerving from the moment you collect your first fragment, that’s for sure.

It’s the future, and no, I don’t know what year. You play as Timothy Jenkins, a young, blonde-as-a-lemon scientist conducting a range of experiments around the exploration of human memory and emotions, aided by a female AI called Arkady. Lately, Tim has been losing himself in his work, as he recently broke up with his girlfriend Marylee, and he’ll take any distraction he can get. This work involves exploring different virtual plateaus for fragments of data, and Arkady has begun creating these landscapes from Tim’s memories, an act he’s slowly finding a bit disturbing. And rightly so. Naturally, as human-crafted AI are wont to do, ulterior plans are brewing in the background, and Tim eventually finds himself trapped in these digital dimensions.

Fragment has a great gameplay setup that constantly keeps things fresh and had me looking forward to jumping back into the Animus virtual realms that Arkady put together. Each plateau you visit is strikingly different in tone, look, and puzzles, and that made hoping back in all the more exciting. There’s also some great, moody sci-fi tunes that are heavy on the bass to provide a unique soundtrack while you are scouring the screen for important pixels to click on. At first, when Tim commented on the music, I was taken aback, but it all eventually makes sense. After you’ve collected a fragment, you have to do a small puzzle on the computer of finishing a broken circular design (or sometimes very non-circular), but all this equates to is just clicking around enough until everything lines up. It’s something else to do, but I’d rather have more things to look at/interact with on the plateaus. Everything else is pretty standard for the adventure game genre, with one mouse button to look and the other for using, and you are never found carrying useless or red herring items, which I always appreciate.

So, there’s two possible endings based on a key decision you make near the very end of Tim’s sojourn. For those curious, I went with quarantine, but I’ll probably see if I can find a different choice played out on YouTube or something, because I’m curious, though not enough to play through it again, as nothing else seems like it would change. The plateaus ramp up in difficulty fairly slowly, but the few ending stages, despite how sparse they actually are, end up being the most interesting parts of Fragment. They had me re-thinking my literal steps, and the puzzles there are quite inventive and unlike anything else in the game.

Other than the fact that Tim looks nothing like a scientist in my stereotypical mind, I really enjoyed Fragment. Again, it’s very dark, very dreamy, very futuristic in an uncertain sort of way, but there’s a lot of beautiful visuals and interesting topics discussed, like what it means to be human, what it means to be artificial, and what it means to be social, all aspects I struggle with daily. Plus, a groovy soundtrack. I’m not sure if Chandler & Co. have released it for free or not since the AGS Bake Sale ended though.

Finally got around to that bundle of AGS Bake Sale games

Bake Sale games roundup

Hmm. I can’t believe this, but I’ve searched and searched Grinding Down‘s archives, and it seems like I never made a single dedicated post about the AGS Bake Sale, which was a pay-what-you-want gathering of 14 adventure games made with the Adventure Game Studio program by members of its community, with all proceeds going to Child’s Play. Really now, shame on me.

At the time of purchase, I snatched the bundle up eagerly and excitedly, but quickly ran into problems running many of the games on my Windows-based laptop. Alas, I didn’t really try many other methods or even understand the way you could change compatibility and run in windowed frames via the winsetup executable, so I mostly forgot about the slew of games, left to collect digital dust in my videogames folder for…well, nearly two years on the dot (bought the bundle in late January 2012).

The good news is that, lately, I’ve made some great strides in going through my backlog of downloaded games, especially those from the AGS Bake Sale bundle, which, if you didn’t know, are all of the following:

  • 9 Months In
  • Abner the Amazing
  • Barn Runner: The Rich Dame Who Cut the Cheese
  • Ben Chandler, Paranormal Investigator – In Search of the Sweets Tin
  • Entrapment
  • Escape the Barn
  • Falling Skywards
  • Fragment
  • Indiana Rodent and the Raiders of the Lost Cheese
  • The Rail
  • RAM Ghost
  • Red Volition
  • Retina
  • Zombie Attack

Let’s get the lame stuff out of the way, and here’s all the games that I couldn’t get running on my machine, no matter all the different tactics that I tried: Barn Runner: The Rich Dame Who Cut the Cheese, Entrapment, Indiana Rodent and the Raiders of the Lost Cheese, and The Rail. So that’s extremely unfortunate. There’s probably nothing more irritating than buying a game and not being able to play it, which is why I am very selective with my Steam purchases and mostly play everything I can on my consoles. I’ve tried looking up alternate solutions on the forums, but I’m really not tech savvy at all, and so I can only accomplish so much.

Two games that did work just fine on my flip-floppy ASUS laptop unfortunately didn’t hold my attention for very long: Abner the Amazing and Red Volition. The former has a strange look to it, with some tedious pacing, and the latter is too much red. No, I kid about that. There’s some maroon and pink in there to boot. I just didn’t know what to do in the thing and eventually wandered away.

Haven’t attempted to install and run the following: RAM Ghost, Retina, and Zombie Attack. Eventually I will, but I’m not gonna hold my or your breath, as it seems like my computer only likes a really specific type of AGS game and refuses to work with anything else. Oh well..

So, that leaves us with 9 Months In, Ben Chandler, Paranormal Investigator – In Search of the Sweets Tin, Escape the Barn, Falling Skywards, and Fragment. All of which I’ve played and beaten. You may all now toss your handfuls of confetti high into the sky. It might not surprise you that three of those five games have some kind of Ben Chandler involvement, whether he helped make them or is, in fact, the main character, a lost soul searching for his sweet tins. Yeah, that was a weird one to play. But anyways, this entire post is basically to say that you can expect some kind of Grinding Down coverage of these specific games over the next week or so, though I think this comic I did for Escape the Barn sums up that relatively short and straightforward game enough. Forwards, I go.