by Jamie Downes
Developer – Bjorn ‘Ghost’ Ludwig with music by Mark ‘Mods’ Lovegrove
Genre – Point-and-Click (humour)
Released – 2011
Synopsis – Having been dead for five years, Janet Burdie is woken from her slumber with a chance to right a wrong by the ‘Unfinished Business Departedment’.
With streams of mediocrity dominating the here-and-now, nostalgia, it seems, is a point-and-click adventure fan’s most treasured, and sometimes only, worthwhile gaming experience. Occasionally however, a new title crops up that demonstrates a superior understanding of the genre and a glimmer of hope for a positive future. Those making adventures need not reinvent the wheel – and let’s be honest, they rarely try to – but what they must do is understand why the greats of the past are remembered more fondly than the also-rans. Chance of the Dead developer, Bjorn ‘Ghost’ Ludwig gives every indication that he does understand. The German’s fairly hastily made effort – available to download free of charge – is not merely a lament to the fallen, but a fantastic example of why the fallen must get up and stand tall, preferably marching but more likely lurching into the path of the clueless with swords and insults at the ready.
You see, capturing the magic of early nineties Lucas Arts has proven impossible for many, but Chance of the Dead does so with a comforting ease that makes one wonder why those developers with a budget to blow have so often missed the mark. Clocking in at somewhere between the thirty-minute and one-hour mark, it’s admittedly a short game by comparison, yet the warmth it fills you with is of far greater worth than the extraneous hours spent toiling through an aesthetically polished but ultimately soulless product.
The whole experience leaves the same goofy yet lovable impression of a Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island, but undoubtedly has a more engaging and affectionate story to accompany the similar brand of easy-going humour; the kind that’s happy to simply coax a broad smile and a chuckle. It’s good honest fun with an endearing visual style and downright superb music, both more than reminiscent of the humorous adventures heyday. There are a small handful of spelling mistakes, but that’s about as much criticism as you be required to throw at it.
Most importantly, Chance of the Dead demonstrates that the classic Lucas Arts approach to the point-and-click genre is not beyond its sell-by-date; all it needs is the right person looking after the ingredients. Yes, this game will likely make Lucas Arts fans nostalgic, but does one need to experience that nostalgia to enjoy it? Absolutely not. A full-length effort in this vein would go down a treat.
Chance of the Dead is available to download free of charge from here.