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East Side Story

Entry 751 posted in: 3. Gamebits

Isn't it good to be lost in the woods? The last week I have been playing a point and click adventure game called East Side Story. It came as a free download at game giveaway of the day (GGAOTD) that should be better renamed to game giveaway of the weekend if you ask me. But nobody ever does so I'll just go on if you don't mind. I'll skip the flame war avalanche that this download created for the simple reason that it is old news now; if you are interested you can look up the insults & co right here.

My download arrived in a jiffy – in my case the 500 MB file was not corrupt. As a matter of fact the generation of the license key took longer than the actual download, some work in the activation department needs to be done by the developers of GGAOTD, if you ask me. Did I already mention you that nobody ever does?

East Side Story is remarkable. Really. Its half a gig stuffed with high quality pics from a Swedish town called Norrköping so the game looks a bit like a tourist brochure. The story starts when Carol Reed, a female investigator? - this must be Sweden!, is lying in a hammock contemplating the meaning of life and such. Before Death can invite her for a game of chess she decides to water her cucumbers and - en passant - solve a murder mystery as well.

What follows are those typical mystery puzzles we all loved and cherished in a past millennium: in order to open a door you need a key that is hidden in a cupboard, to open the cupboard you need another key that can be found inside a shirt, to find the shirt you have to go to the laundry, to go to the laundry you need dirty knickers, to get dirty knickers you need to play a game of ArianeB 5.0 (I’m making this up, of course). Another typical thing in point and click games are annoying people that will only help you, or give you hints, after you trace something they have lost. One would think they do it on purpose!

East Side Story is a game for calm people, not for caffeine fuelled bunnies like me, so I soon got annoyed. It is a bit like browsing through those endless Powerpoint presentations, with some soothing pan flute music on the background, promising you the most beautiful nature scenes of the year 2002 that some people insist on keeping on sending me. They indifferently end with the same picture of a lonely surfer and a hungry shark; only it is not a shark, but just a copyrighted dolphin

East Side Story is a puzzler’s paradise and some puzzles are only revealed after you have clarified others. Somewhere in the game there is a path trough the woods that goes on for about 10 clicks. The photos are tremendous, showing trees, leaves and some more trees. Every slide however hides some other slides, exactly like in those prehistoric text adventures where you could walk east, west, north and south (and look up and down). Left from you there are some trees, right from you there are some trees. Lots of trees. Nothing happens when you look at these. So after you have walked through the path for the third time you don’t bother anymore to look sideways. But somewhere, during a conversation or by reading a piece of paper (they seem to lie everywhere in this game), a trigger has been activated and suddenly the fifth eastern slide of the pathway will reveal a hidden item that wasn’t there before. Before you know it you spent most of your time visiting all the places you have visited before and opening all cupboards, drawers and toilet seats you have opened before. Unfortunately there are hundreds of those possible places. I simply had to give up this game, it made me crank nervous. Really. Not my cup of tea. Utterly boring but strangely wonderful. Must be typical Swedish, I guess, a bit like Volvo, Ikea and Abba…

Some geeky stuff: East Side story has been made with AGS. Adventure Game Studio is a freeware that allows people to create point-and-click adventure games, similar to the early 90's Sierra and Lucasarts adventures. A slightly more recent (and more evolved) software to create these kind of games is Wintermute but who needs evolution anyway if the purpose is to make a vintage style adventure? On the other hand, AGAST seems to have lost the battle of the point & click editors as their site hasn't been updated since 2003.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Tentacle Day.