Tag Archives: Wadjet Eye Games

Cyberpunk romp Technobabylon shines with futuristic style

I desperately want to play Unavowed, but I have other point-and-click games from Wadjet Eye Games in my collection to get through first, along with nearly a  bajillion indie downloads from itch.io that all look super neat, such as Robin Morningwood Adventure and The Librarian. However, for this post, I’m talking about Technobabylon, which came out in 2015 and is a substantial reworking and expansion of James Dearden’s trilogy of freeware games that debuted back in 2010. I never tried them then, so this is all new information to me, but clearly Wadjet Eye Games saw something special in them initially.

Technobabylon is set in the city of Newton in the grand ol’ futuristic year of 2087. In this world, genetic engineering is the norm, the addictive Trance has replaced almost any need for human interaction, and an omnipresent AI named Central powers the city. CEL agents Charlie Regis and Max Lao are investigating a serial killer calling himself the Mindjacker who is tapping into the neural wiring of seemingly ordinary citizens, stealing their knowledge, and leaving them dead. Yikes. On the flip-side of this, an agoraphobic net addict named Latha Sesame might be the next target. However, Charlie’s past comes back to haunt him, and he and his partner find themselves on opposite sides of the law, with Latha’s fate stuck right dab in the middle.

Gameplay is your traditional, old-school point-and-click affair, and that’s perfectly fine. I know what I came here for, loving just about everything about previous works from Wadget Eye Games, namely the Blackwell series, Gemini Rue, A Golden Wake, The Shivah, and, heck, even Two of a Kind. You’ll acquire items into your inventory, combine them in strange ways, or simply exhaust dialogue options until you start making things happen. Technobabylon features multiple protagonists, and each one also has access to different bits of technology, such as the Trance or logging into Central. This helps open up options for puzzles while still keeping everything within the same system…though I fear it could become overwhelming down the line.

Speaking of that, there’s a ton of world-building going on here in Technobabylon. It’s seemingly a mix of things like Blade Runner, Black Mirror, and Ghost in the Shell…though I’m not sure how successful it is everywhere. For instance, I don’t fully understand how the Trance works, nor do I grok what “wetware” ultimately is or does, but maybe the point isn’t to fully explain everything happening in this dark, somewhat desolate future. You believe it works as they say it does and go with it. I also may not have paid as close attention to some bits of dialogue, so perhaps the fault rests on my shoulders.

I’m currently somewhere in chapter three of Technobabylon and am enjoying it greatly. I’ve only used an online walkthrough now and then after I felt like I had truly exhausted all my options, and the solution often makes me feel slightly stupid for not figuring it out on my own first. Oh well. That’s how some of these point-and-click adventure games go, I guess. If you miss picking up one single item, you are doomed, like I was for not finding the mag coil before entering Mr. Van der Waal’s apartment, which left me flustered on how to get the dang pistol out of the bloody Jacuzzi. And I do mean bloody.

I’ll keep plugging away at Technobabylon, though it seems like a longer game to get through. At least once I’m done I can move on to other point-and-click adventure games in my collection, many of which have been waiting patiently, for years, for me to…well, point and click on them. We’ll get there, I promise.

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The Top 10 Videogames I Didn’t Get to Play in 2018

Well, here we are once again…the end of a year, and boy howdy has this been one strange, life-changing year. For those that don’t know, this past July I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At the ripe age of…35. With no family history of this disease or long-showing symptoms. Yeah, it sucks, but I am still positive and fighting it like heck and even drawing a journal comic about my journey through this bastard of a disease so far.

Still, there’s been some good to enjoy as well. For instance, Melanie and I are engaged and getting married next year. Plus, because of my cancer, I’ve now met so many amazing and genuinely good people, people I would have never interacted with before this disease, and they have helped tremendously to make this battle not as scary as it should be. There is so much support out there, you just have to be willing to embrace it. That’s been hard for me, but also rewarding.

That said, this blog of mine is supposed to be all about videogames, not this super serious stuff–that’s not to say gaming isn’t serious; evidently it is now cool to play games, so says the almighty Ninja–so let’s get on with it…

I’ve been doing this Grinding Down feature of mine starring pictures of dogs looking sad and sighing audibly for a while now. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding…or rather the bulleted list below, dating all the way back to 2010, which somehow got featured on the WordPress home page and saw many, many comments. Never happened again since, but maybe this year it’ll get noticed. Anyways, here, go back in time and play the fun game of figuring out if I still haven’t played some of these yet:

Wow, wow, wow…that’s a lot of games I didn’t play then, and might still not have played now. Of course, the brand-spanking new list below is beyond complete, and here are a few other titles I would have liked to play this, but just didn’t find the time: Yoku’s Island Express, WarioWare Gold, Lost Sphear, Octopath Traveler, and The Swords of Ditto.

Okay, here we go.


10. Fallout 76

I pretty much knew right from its announcement at E3 2018 that Fallout 76 was not for me. Still, I held my breath and waited. As it turns out, this game is super not for me. I’m not against online-only games, but I come to the Fallout universe for its strange stories and eclectic characters, and it seems like Fallout 76 has none of that. Just audio recordings and NPC vendors and no V.A.T.S. combat. I get that some of the fun is you doing your own thing and maybe running into another player, which could be friendly or a new foe to fight off, but that doesn’t sound all that entertaining to me. A shame, as West Virginia seems like a cool place to explore shortly after the nukes went off. I’ll keep my eye on it, as Bethesda will probably continue to update it for a good while; here’s hoping they eventually add a campaign.

9. Donut County

Donut County, a wonderful name on its own, is about controlling a hole and filling it with stuff. The experience just seems super chill and silly. The hole gets bigger as you put more stuff into it, and you have to solve some puzzles along the way while dealing with a rude raccoon named BK. The game takes inspiration from Windosill and Katamari Damacy, so you know it has to be stellar. Shame on me. Deep, deep, dark shame on me. Evidently, the game just came out on Xbox One recently…so, no more excuses, I guess.

8. Minit

I own a copy of Minit. I got it fairly recently from the Humble Day of the Devs 2018 Bundle, which also contained a number of other sweet indie titles, such as Burly Men at Sea, RiME, and Hyper Light Drifter. It’s installed on my laptop via Steam. I just…haven’t had the time to sit down and play it, which, when you think about what this game is and how it was designed, is rather humorous. I hope to get to it real soon, but it’ll mostly likely be an early 2019 playthrough at this point. Look out for a future blog post with the ultra clever title of: I’m in it to win it with Minit.

7. Into the Breach

I’m usually not one for strategy games, but there is something cool about Into the Breach. I can’t decide if the cool thing is the game’s title, its general aesthetic, the different mech teams, or the way the battlefield is shown on a tilted angle. Either way, it seems both neat and tough, and I’m thinking this might be a great one to have on the Switch…y’know, next year, when I end up getting a Switch to mostly wait for whatever the new Animal Crossing thing is.

6. Unavowed

I’ve really fallen down on keeping up with the many point-and-click adventure games from Wadjet Eye Games. There was a time in my life where I was obsessed with these things, but then something major happened on the day of Resonance‘s release, and I was soured on just about everything that I enjoyed at that very moment. Since then, I still haven’t played Shardlight, Primordia, or Technobabylon, all of which I own copies of, but it sounds like Unavowed, the company’s latest release, is a good one to jump back into, with its multiple protagonists and ancient society dedicated to stopping evil. Here’s praying I get to it, along with others, somewhere in 2019.

5. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

I’m still bummed to heck and back that the Nintendo 3DS version never made it to the United States, as that is where I like to do most of my Dragon Questing these days, on a handheld device. Still, maybe that will change down the road with enough hooting and hollering. The game is pretty traditional and follows the perilous journey of a hunted Hero who must uncover the mystery of his fate with the aid of a charismatic cast of supporting characters. In short: it’s Dragon Quest, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Alas, I believe the game is currently only available on PlayStation 4 and Steam, and my laptop is most definitely not able to run such a beautiful beast. Boo to that.

4. Return of the Obra Dinn

I played a decent amount of 2013’s Papers, Please, but it was tough and challenging and often made me sad. The next game from Lucas Pope is called Return of the Obra Dinn, and it puts you firmly in the role of a detective. The crew and passengers of a fictional East India Company ghost ship have all mysteriously died, with the game’s objective being to discover how. The player must use a combination of deductive reasoning and a Memento Mortem stopwatch to return to the exact moment of each crew member’s death to determine the identity of the sixty crew members, how and where they died and, if killed by human hands, the name of their killer. Sounds freaking amazing; plus, the 1-bit monochromatic graphical style inspired by games on early Macintosh systems really gives the whole thing an eerie as funk feel.

3. God of War

I have a secret to reveal: I never finished the original God of War. I got real close, and by that I mean…I basically stopped at the final fight against Ares. I don’t recall if I found the whole thing too tough or just didn’t care to see Kratos end his rage-filled journey. Either way, that’s all the God of War I’ve ever played. Missed out on everything since that 2005 debut, but this new God of War seems to be striking a much more somber and serious tone, and that has my interest piqued for sure. I like the mechanic behind throwing your axe and then recalling it. Too bad this is only on PlayStation 4.

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

I’m never going to play this. Also, I’ve still not played the original Red Dead Redemption. The cowboy life just isn’t for me, I guess. Unless you count things like SteamWorld Dig 2 and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. That said, this game sure is pretty, and I love all the attention you can put into Arthur’s look, from his outfit to facial hair to even how stinky he stays. It sounds like too much focus on animation priority really slows things down, but to each their own. Again, I’ll never know, because I’ll never play Red Dead Redemption 2.

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man

One of my favorite demo discs from back in the PlayStation 1 days contained a demo for…Spider-Man, an action-adventure game based on the comics that followed an original storyline and featured narration from the recently departed Stan Lee, rest in peace. I remember it being set on rooftops, and there was some swinging action, some punching of bad guys, and Black Cat was there too. It used the same engine from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, so it has this speedy vibe. I played it a whole bunch, and to me, then, it felt awesome being in control of the Spider-Man. Since then, a whole bunch of other Spider-Man games have come out, and not all of them have been winners. From the sound of things, the latest one from Insomniac gets it right, and truly makes swinging around New York City feel amazing. Alas, once again, not having a PlayStation 4 has cut me off from some solid gems; too bad I’m only planning to get a Nintendo Switch in 2019.

Alfie Banks and his great opportunity in A Golden Wake

gd impressions a golden wake pca

More so than movies or books, videogames transport us to other worlds and let us interact–with things, whether they are people, plants, or places. Oftentimes, these worlds are fictional or, in the case when they are not, the narrative surrounding it or the era are created whole cloth. I’m struggling to think of a game built around something so real and true, an experience where you just recreate the past as it happened. No, the Assassin’s Creed series definitely does not count. Now, A Golden Wake doesn’t do this per se, but many of the people in it are pieces of history, as is the land boom in Florida and the illegal happenings around Prohibition. I mean, you simply can’t make up a thing like the Roaring Twenties.

You take control of Alfie Banks, a realtor for Morris & Banks in New York. Unfortunately, his realtor days are up because his coworkers concoct a cunning plot to frame him, which subsequently results in his ejection from the company. With not much to go on, Banks purchases a newspaper–with his last dime, mind you–and reads an article about the land boom in Florida. For him, a fresh start is simply a long train ride away. And off he goes, to meet an array of new characters and find his place in the big ol’ world.

A Golden Wake dives deep into its setting. You can see this from the reworked Wadjet Eye logo when the game loads up to the playful menu text when you quit back to the desktop. Despite being a work of speculative fiction, Grundislav Games makes a massive effort to be historically accurate, including notable figures from the era, such as real estate developer George Merrick and mobster Fatty Walsh. period dialogue, and a retro, ragtime soundtrack that is still stuck in my head as of this writing. This high attention to detail really helps bring the old-school and, to be honest, somewhat crude graphics to life. To put it bluntly, there were a few screens, such as the boat dock and a few one-off locations, like the golf course, that felt unfinished. Or rather, uninteresting and distant, and existing only for Alfie to click on something and go to an additional screen, where things were much more refined.

Here’s a bummer: Alfie Banks is not very likeable. The game likes to build up his so-called charm and way with words, but I found him grating, whiney, and selfish from the very first scene. There’s nothing you can do about this. It is how he is written, and when the time comes for him to make a major decision, you just sit back and watch, helping to put the pieces together afterwards. The problem is that we never get a whole lot of backstory on the man, not even when his brother shows up for a chat. Which makes a lot of his journey and grumbling as an errand boy feel a bit empty. He certainly has an impact, but ultimately feels quite unnecessary in the long run. A shame, as I did enjoy many other characters, such as Marjory Stoneman Douglas, voiced by none other than Rebecca Whittaker. Another problem is that because Alfie is constantly jumping ship, you never get to hang around with the same side characters for too long.

In stark contrast to the previous point-and-click adventure game I played, A Golden Wake‘s puzzles across Alfie Banks’ sojourn for a better life are shockingly simple. Your inventory never becomes too full, and every solution stems from a logical conclusion. Need an antenna for a toy tramcar? Use that antenna you broke off that radio earlier. There are a few spots where the “action” switches from standard pointing and clicking, with you finding “hidden objects” in a picture to condemn a house or steering a car to help Mabel Cody hop on her flying stunt plane. These certainly do break up the action, but are far from enjoyable. In the end, I only had to look up the solution to an obtuse bookcase secret passage puzzle (hint: how would a V.I.P. enter?), figuring everything out on my own. There’s also a questioning minigame–think L.A. Noire, but toned way down–where you can use Alfie’s charm and wits to unearth answers or cheat by clicking the Seller’s Intuition button; I never felt like I was doing it right, though the story just continues on regardless of the outcomes.

A few years ago, I replayed Blackwell Deception with the developer’s commentary on, and it was just as enjoyable as the first time through. I’m not ready to go back into A Golden Wake–aw, horsefeathers!–but when I do, I suspect I’ll partake of this option, as well as go for some of the trickier Achievements. There’s no difficulty setting for the puzzles, but it’ll be interesting to hear some thoughts about what went into them or why this location was used this way or that. A Golden Wake dreams big, and while it is not successfully in every corner, it is still a pretty good adventure that fans of traditional pointing and clicking can eat up, all while drowning in that deliciously sweet jitterbugging soundtrack.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #35 – A Golden Wake

gd 2015 games completed a golden wake

The Roaring Twenties
A time of crime, greed, land booms
Use intuition

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #59 – Gemini Rue

2013 games completed Gemini Rue

Azriel wants bro
Delta-Six wants to escape
Boryokudan

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.