In the early days of computer gaming, one genre can easily be recognized as a top contender for most influential: The point-and-click adventure.
Games like Kings Quest and the secret of Monkey Island are still impressed upon our minds. And though they fell out of vogue for a time, there has been a recent resurgence within the Indie gaming community. Titles like Thimbleweed Park and The Walking Dead have managed to eke out and create a space long void for point and click enthusiasts.
Sol705, by Patricio Land and his team, bestows upon us a point-and-click adventure of old, with a charming modern appeal. Based out of Switzerland, Patricio is an indie developer who has been working on this game for nearly a year. The Kickstarter is about halfway funded, and there's even a free demo which I couldn’t help but play.
First impressions gameplay courtesy of Lobster Fight Gaming
SOL705: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Right from the intro screen I was having nostalgic flashbacks.
The music is a minimalist but fun 90’s upbeat synth rock with a theremin-style retro sci-fi feel that quickly finds a Latin groove. Simultaneously, the characters run through the middle of the screen, one behind the other, disappearing stage left, only to return from the right to do it again in classic Hanna Barbera style, really driving home the feeling that ‘we’ve got a mystery to solve,’ and I’m ready to start!
Jumping in, the art style is very cool and reminiscent of late 90’s - early 2000’s cartoons. With a cast of characters stylistically similar to anime-influenced cartoons and games like Digimon or Mega Man, they are equipped with bright colors, thin, lanky builds, big hair, and a mad scientist type to boot!
In-game, the art is very fun to interact with. Patricio did a great job of combining a few different, very detailed art styles. The backgrounds are a variety of stunning hand-drawn landscapes, and the characters contrast wonderfully in a fully animated high-resolution 2d pixel style. Some dialog screens also come with extremely detailed digitally painted portraits which offer the characters just that much more personality. Buildings are also presented on a map as high-resolution 3d sprites which add a level of depth to the world, removing you splendidly from the possibility of a lifeless environment.
All of this, essentially from the start, situates the player in a vibrant, charming, and mysterious town of Tucana Lake, Argentina, where our story takes place.
The narrative takes place during the 1970’s and follows the protagonist, a teenage boy named Meeno as he (you the player) attempts to break out of school and form an extraterrestrial research and investigation club.
You move through the story by interacting with a large cast of characters, engaging with items, and solving puzzles. In classic point-and-click style, you’re able to maneuver through your environment and interact with items and people using 4 basic abilities: ‘examine,’ ‘pick up,’ ‘talk,’ and ‘use.’
Some solutions to the puzzles are obvious, and some require a little problem-solving. And fortunately for us, the developers really do offer multiple ways to solve a problem, so if you screw up a clear path to solving a puzzle like I did, there’s always an alternate solution.
Patricio has stated that one of his ‘main goals’ when creating Sol705 was a ‘good script,’ and you can tell he takes that commitment seriously. A professional cast does the voice acting, and it really shows. The dialog, however, can be a little awkward at times, clearly due to an improperly translated script, which can make some interactions hard to follow.
Where the game’s script translation is a little weak, the game makes up for it with sheer personality. Each character is unique and creative, and the interactions are full of jokes and pop culture references. In the demo alone, the game is chocked full of KISS, Mario Brothers, Back to the Future, and Carl Sagan quips and allusions. Thinking of creative ways to scam lunch ladies, pass off fraudulent report cards and rip off unemployed street-performing sailors keeps the game engaging and enjoyable.
I can’t wait to see what Patricio has in store for us. Just from this brief demo, the idea of solving unexplained mysteries in a beautifully detailed pixel art adventure has me hooked.
Patricio and his team have thoroughly and thoughtfully crafted a game that is shaping up to be a harmonious blend of retro-style graphics and modern gameplay, while tapping into all the essential elements of a truly novel and heartwarming point-and-click puzzle adventure.