Thursday, 11 November 2010

Snakes of Avalon Review

Snakes of Avalon is a freeware adventure game and is among the oddest games I've ever played - it is also rather a good one. The whole game is set in a pub, with the protagonist, Jack, whose whole life revolves around the place, overhearing a couple plotting a murder. He must try to stop them, but in doing so has to overcome puzzles, his good and bad consciences, and revisit a section of his past that he'd really rather forget...

Whilst technically Snakes of Avalon is a one-room game, with the use of cinematic techniques and flashbacks it feels much larger. There aren't many inventory items but the puzzles all work according to the slightly twisted logic of the game, and the main character is likable, pitiable, worthy and unlikable all at the same time. At any rate, his reactions to things are believable, and there's a real desire to progress the story because it's interesting, mad, often interestingly mad and sometimes madly interesting.

The whole thing has a really surreal atmosphere, and when you jump back into a dream-like sequence of Jack's youth, I actually found it genuinely disturbing - it takes difficult subjects and puts them through a blender, and is quite metaphysical in places. The adventure game aspect is good in itself; while short the solutions are often quite unusual and though you have few inventory items, the ways they can be used is interesting. People who aren't used to adventure games may perhaps struggle with it at first because you have to understand the twisted logic of the game environment before you can start solving puzzles. So from the point of view of a gaming experience I'd say it was good - nothing extraordinary but certainly unique enough to stand out.

There are a couple of things I didn't like about Snakes of Avalon - being set in a pub I suppose it's inevitable that there's a bit of toilet humour, and there was some bad language which I'm never a fan of. The thing that stood out to me as exceptional was the overall style - it had a really cinematic quality, and the themes from the plot will stay with you for a long time. Graphically it's nice - cartoony character graphics and surreal impressionistic backgrounds - and the music is great. There are a couple of sequences with voice acting too, though the majority of the game isn't voice-acted (at least not in the present version).

It's a bit difficult to classify Snakes of Avalon - it's quite a unique game, very impressivelcinematically, pretty good from an adventure gaming point of view. I'd definitely recommend that you give it a look.

Visit to download Snakes of Avalon.

See also my interview with Alex van der Wijst and Igor Hardy, the creators of Snakes of Avalon.

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Jonathon Wisnoski said...

I actually did not really like the game much, which seems quite a bit different from most peoples reaction.

It might be because I have never been drunk and therefore relate far less to (and get less of the jokes) of the protagonist, who is a drunk.

But then maybe it is just no my cup of tea.

CaptainD said...

Hey Jonathon

I'm not a drinker either and dislike pubs, I guess I just liked the weirdness of it all.

Igor Hardy said...

Actually, I'm not really a drinker either and didn't intend the game to be targeted specifically at people who enjoy getting drunk.

But I do think our pastimes, little and big addictions, as well as the ways we like to eat and drink tell a lot about ourselves and are really good starting points for creating interesting stories.

Hallucinations are a fascinating topic also.

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