Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Black Mirror, Adventure Game review

As some of you know, I am learning how to make adventure games.  Part of that involves playing a variety of adventure games, so that I can get a feel of what I like versus what I don't like.

The Black Mirror, by Dreamcatcher Interactive, was published in 2003.  As an older game, it still boasts nice graphics, with good 3D effects such as rain, fog, flickering lights, etc.  The sound effects in the game are good...the pitter patter of raindrops, lightening strikes, and other noises immerse the player into the game world.  The background music is also good.
Voice acting is a big problem with many adventure games, and the Black Mirror is no different.  The voice acting left me wanting to throw the computer in frustration at times...especially since I have yet to find a way to bypass the spoken parts.  
If you play the game., save often so that you won't have to go back and listen to the same stilted conversations.
The voices themselves are OK, but the script is read in slow motion...or so it seems.  I have never in my life heard a group of people speak as slowly and deliberately as do the characters in this game. It makes them sound wooden.
The character animation is good for it's time, but the lack of close ups detracts from the game, I think.  The characters are always shown at a distance, and it's not possible to see facial expressions.
In fact, most of the game is shown at a distance; the camera angle doesn't change very often.  There are a few close ups, but not many.
The settings are interesting...an old manor, a creepy morgue, a quaint medieval-style village, an underground crypt...to name a few.
The story line is interesting as well...the game opens with an elderly man writing a letter.  He's up in the tower of an old castle, which we quickly learn when the scene changes to show him toppling from said castle tower. Samuel, our main character, comes home for his grandfather's funeral, after a long absence.  We quickly learn that his sweetheart perished in a fire, a fire that Samuel blames himself for, but we don't learn much more about this story line in the first 2 chapters. Instead, we, as Samuel, must investigate Samuel's grandfather's suspicious death.
The game's puzzles do match the game, which is a nice change from other games I have played, however, there is too much emphasis on finding keys for locked doors, chests, and the like...a common pitfall of adventure games, in my opinion.  There is also too much walking back and forth to get objects that could have been picked up earlier in the game, if only we were allowed to do so.  For example, the hammer in the stable is found early on, but you can't pick it up until after you discover the boarded up attic door.  There are also several areas that you can't explore until the game allows you too...the cursor will change colour, and you can click on the doors, but Samuel will say things like "I have no reason to go there".  
I did not finish the game; toward the end of chapter 2, Samuel will fall into an old mine, which lies below the crypt in the Church basement.  The only way to get out of it is to turn off the power and clip the dangling live wire; however, whenever I turned off the power, the hotspot on the live wire disappeared.  I tried again and again, but the hotspot would not appear when the power was off.  Despite warnings from a walkthrough, I had no choice but to try to cut the wire with the power on...which ended with a cutscene to the cemetery, showing Samuel's tombstone.  Which led to the end of the game, including the rolling credits, which went on and on.  The game makers didn't even allow for an easy way to get back into the game.  I did save the game before I cut the live wire, and had hoped I could just reload it, but wasn't given the chance.  I think sometimes that game makers try to frustrate the players on purpose...they know full well that players will just reload a saved game after a "death"...why on earth would they force players to watch the end credits?  
Anyway, it was a learning experience.  It's not a bad game, for it's time, and you can find second hand copies for under 10 bucks.  
I may add to this, if I go back to finish the game...the credits should have stopped rolling by now.

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