Archive for the ‘The Moonwalls’ Category

Quick Look: The Train Episode 2 for iPhone

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I’m a big adventure game fan, but it seems like more often than not adventure games that make their way to iOS devices are simply ports from other devices, consoles or computers.  Consequently, when an original title comes along I get really excited.  Thankfully, The Train Ep. 1 didn’t disappoint when I finally got the chance to play it.  The interface was a bit clunky at times and the game was too short, but it was worth it for the decent visuals, the good story and the interesting characters.  Episode 2 ups the ante in the aesthetics department as well as the story, but it’s still pretty short.  That would be okay with me, except in its current incarnation the interface is quite frustrating.  Your enjoyment will weigh heavily on how patient you are.

Is That Your Dragon?

Is That Your Dragon?

The first episode chronicled the quest of a guy named Martin, who was trying to get to his fiancée.  The backdrop is a future Earth that has been devastated by the Apocalypse, and in this episode you get to find out how the emperor of this dystopian future came into power.  More appropriately, you get to play the someday emperor Greg as he takes the final journey that leads to his rise in power.  Aboard a train to India you’ll discover mystery, betrayal and the love of someone’s life… plus some other interesting loose ends from episode one.  You don’t need to have played the first part to enjoy this one, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Like a typical adventure game you’ll need to study all of your locations, scrutinize everyone you meet, and solve some puzzles in order to accomplish your goals.  Most items are collected by tapping on them, though some might be given to you by other characters in the game.  To use an item you tap on it in inventory and then tap what you want to use it with.  As long as your inventory is open, the last item you selected is “active” until you tap on it again or tap on a different item.  To talk to someone just tap on them.  You can then tap to scroll through the dialog.  Also, tapping on certain areas will cause a dialog to come up describing the area.  Just tap away from the dialog to close it.

My Father Is Dead

My Father Is Dead

Unlike the first game, there are no “extended” screens in episode 2, so you don’t have a virtual joystick to scroll around the screen.  That’s okay, because that system had a couple of kinks anyway.  Unfortunately, the navigation in this episode has what I call “sticky” syndrome.  If you click things to quickly, it’s possible for dialogs (or even descriptions when you pick up items) to get stuck.  The only way to clear this is to move to a different scene in the game or sometimes even two or three scenes away.  This wouldn’t be so bad except that every scene has a slight load time, and even slight load times add up after a while.  Patience will persevere, but in the mean time it can get frustrating.

The graphics are decent, and certainly better than episode 1.  The locations look nice, and for the most part the people look good, but there are times when they feel like cardboard cutouts.  There isn’t a ton of animation in the game, the most notable exception being the motion outside the windows to give the train a feeling of movement.  There are some sound effects here and there, though sadly no voiceovers.  That’s something I’d really like to see in this series.  The music is very nice and changes depending on the situation, which is nice because given that the majority of the game takes place in the train it could have been easy to stick with one track.

Mysterious Prelude

Mysterious Prelude

As original adventures on the iPhone go, The Train is turning out to be one of the most engaging series available.  The story is well thought out, the pacing is decent, and the developer sure knows how to create a cliffhanger.  The visuals are getting better with each iteration, and the music is blossoming as well.  My main frustration is that the interface actually seems to have gotten a bit worse.  I imagine a lot of it can be attributed to the development tool, but that doesn’t help us as end users out any.  Purely from a story and puzzle standpoint I’d recommend the game, but unless you mind a lot of needless backtracking you’ll soon grow tired of the fragile interface.

Final Verdict: On The Fence
App Store Link


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Quick Look: The Train episode 1 for iPhone

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

As a gamer of the 80’s, I grew up with a lot of magnificent adventure games: the Infocom classics, Sierra Online (before all the ownership changes) and several other companies come to mind.  Lately there has been a decent amount of adventure game activity on the platform, but it is as much about bringing us ports of old classics as actually delivering new tales.  Thankfully The Train falls under the second category, and while it’s a bit rough around the edges, it certainly provides for an entertaining experience.  It is a bit on the tough side, so be prepared to put your thinking cap on when boarding this transit system.

The Man Behind The Paper

The Man Behind The Paper

The game is told from the point of view of Martin, a “painter mage” that lives in a world where magic has been banned by a maniacal emperor.  On a routine visit to your fiancée things start to go awry, and suddenly you find yourself embroiled in a mystery to figure out what has happened to your beloved.  To find your fiancée you’ll need to visit several locations, interact with some interesting individuals, and solve a few mind bending puzzles.  Most of the time traveling to a new location is a matter of tapping where you want to go or clicking the “back” arrow when provided, though sometimes you’ll have to interact with the environment to set of a chain of events to get you someplace new.

To use an item you select it and then tap on what you want to use the item on.  An item will stay selected until you tap on it again or select another item, so if you start getting a lot of messages like “are you kidding?”, it’s probably because you accidentally left an item selected.  Interacting with mini-game style puzzles really depends on the puzzle.  You’ll tap, swipe, drag, tilt and more to accomplish everything that you need to.  You also tap on people to interact with them.  Sometimes the tapping seems overly sensitive, and there were multiple occasions where it took me several taps to clear a dialog away because it kept coming back.  One thing I found rather interesting was that most every screen was at least wider or taller than the physical screen, and to move your viewpoint you use a virtual stick in the lower left corner of the screen.  It’s a cool feature, but I didn’t care for what I assumed to be auto centering on some scenes because of it.

In The Attic

In The Attic

There are several puzzles in the game, both inventory based and mini-game style.  My biggest issue was the difficulty of the puzzles.  I found myself more often than not consulting the in-game help or the developer for tips or solutions.  I do like the fact that the hint option is context specific and almost always in at least two parts, so you don’t get the whole solution if you don’t want it.  I just wish I wouldn’t have had to abuse it so much.  One other facet I’d like to mention is the whole idea of Martin being a “painter mage”.  This gives him the ability to create and manipulate artwork.  It’s actually a really powerful concept, and it’s used a couple of times in the game, but it should have been explored more in my opinion.

The visuals have a very distinct look about them.  Everything is very detailed, but there isn’t a whole lot of animation anywhere in the game.  There are also certain areas where the artistic skill isn’t nearly as strong – the human figure, for example.  I like the artwork, but it doesn’t wow me like some of the offerings on the App Store.  The sound effects are the same way.  Nothing really jumps out at you, and given the locales there are some missed opportunities for cool background noise.  I’d also love to see speech added to the game – who doesn’t want to hear a zombie talk?  The music is really good.  It has the feel of an action suspense movie, which is just what a game like this needs.

Help Me

Help Me

Despite any grumblings I’ve mentioned, I would say The Train episode 1 is a decent start for The Moonwalls.  I was disappointed when it suddenly ended, because I was really getting into the story at the point.  If you tend to spend most of your time playing hidden object style games you might find this a bit daunting (not criticizing, because I love HoGs), but for more traditional adventure gamers this is worth checking out.  It’s a nice foundation for Martin’s world, and by the end you’ll want to pick up episode 2 (which should be out by the time I publish this).

Final Verdict: Recommended
App Store Link
App Shopper Link


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