And people wonder why I'm bald...
If your right index finger is a little on the skinny side and you want to beef it up a bit, I've got the perfect game for you. Known as The Ward, this adventure game is a little Myst mixed with a touch of Overblood.
I'm convinced this point-and-click adventure was developed by Sy Sperling. I say this because you'll have to join his club after you've pulled all of your hair out trying to solve the impossible puzzles. Remember, he's not just the president, he's also a client...as you will be.
The creators of The Ward obviously geared this title to those individuals who use about 50% of their brain, because average Joe Morons like myself will have an extremely hard time figuring out What To Do Next. Don't get me wrong, I like fairly obtuse adventures, but c'mon guys - give me a chance! I haven't been able to play through more than a half hour of this game without getting so stuck that I needed to look at the walkthrough to see what I was doing wrong.
The storyline is intriguing and almost interesting enough to keep you playing. Your name is David Walker and you're the only survivor from an ill-fated voyage to the Moon. Naturally, aliens get involved, and the next thing you know you're the key to the universe's most ancient and important secrets. Not bad for a guy named Dave.
Well, you might as well curl up in a ball because the smallest errors will jam your adventure into neutral. At one point I was trying to open a door by placing colored rings in a specific order on the lock. No problem, I figured, I have three rings and there are three slots...6 combos max. Well, after ten minutes of switching the colors around and getting nowhere, I checked the walkthrough and discovered that the killer alien across the hall tossed me another ring somewhere along the way. I might have noticed the tiny red ring on the ground next to me, if it weren't behind the freakin' textbox! Little things like that make The Ward much more frustrating than fun.
Other puzzles make no sense at all. In one you must use a scalpel (instead of the screwdriver in your inventory) to cut the hand off a maintenance robot. This hand is then used to unscrew a grate cover, which itself is really hard to find. Ah, of course.
At least you won't be looking at an ugly screen while you scratch your head. The rendered backdrops are very pretty and set the dark space mood really nicely.
However, I was most impressed with the quality of the sound. I figured that a point and click adventure with simple frame by frame advances like Myst would skimp on the sound. The Ward is a pleasant surprise. The music will hold you in suspense and the constant background noise will do a number on your ears. This is definitely not a skimpy helping of audio goodies.
Another treat that The Ward provides is a bonus demo disk. Gathering Of Developers decided to throw in a few playables of their hottest games from the Fall 2000 line up. Included are 4X4 EVO (an off road racer), Oni (an anime style action game), Jazz Jackrabbit 2 (a side-scrolling platformer) and more.When it comes to game hors d'oeuvres, this is a great disk to whet your palate.
But from a gameplay perspective, The Ward in and of itself doesn't offer much. Hardcore adventure types might enjoy it only because there are so few options these days, but anyone else will find the irritating puzzles, well, irritating, and will want to heave the CD out the window. If you're looking to game for relaxation, steer clear of this headache disk. Sy is only a phone call away.