I will never forget my first experience with a text-based adventure game. The game was called Zork and it was possibly the most frustrating experience of my very young gaming life. I had already been introduced to video games by my parents and this…. this was not gaming to me. Trying to get that stupid flask still vexes me to this day… This is our 8 Bit Anthology review.
But out of that genre of text-based adventures came a variety of both text- and picture-based games that captured the imagination of a generation of gamer. Their whimsy and the illusion of choice made gamers choose their own adventure. Yet, in the wake of newer and flashier methods of gameplay and story telling, this genre seemed to have faded out of relevance along with my beloved Apple IIGS. (Good night, sweet prince.)
The 8-Bit Anthology: Volume I is a collection of games called Macventures. Using the same gaming engine to drive them, each game, while similar in gameplay, falls into a different thematic genre. Déjà Vu is a triller-noir, Uninvited is a survival horror, and Shadowgate is a dark fantasy. Within each game, it is up to you to take in the details of the environment surrounding you and choose your own adventure by solving the puzzles at hand.
This usually ends in a mishap or two. I got eaten by a crocodile… twice.
Fortunately, the game is forgiving enough to place you just a few scenes back from where you died. Misusing an item is less than forgiving though. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. This proves quite problematic in Shadowgate as you need to have at least one torch active at all times. If they go out, it’s game over.
One of the major questions that the 8-Bit Anthology poses is this: does this type of game still hold up and does the genre still have relevance within today’s spectrum of games? Let me pose this question another way: why would anyone rerelease games that once existed without making any significant changes or quality of life improvements?
A few days ago, we posted an interview between GameSpace editor-in-chief, William Murphy, and the publishing team for 8-Bit Anthology; you can read it. The rerelease of these games was a labor of love for the publishing team. They see these titles in a similar fashion as I do: as period pieces. Not only do they harken back to a time where games demanded critical thought from the player, it highlights where we have come from.
While games like 8-Bit Anthology don’t hold up to the modern conveniences that we have all grown to depend on, they do necessitate an investment from the player and it is incredibly important that the style of gameplay remain unchanged. Why? Because they just wouldn’t give you the same experience. For a true period piece, it must remain – no matter how taxing on the player. The player must consider their moves carefully, pay attention to every detail, and literally leave no stone unturned… because there might just be a key under one of them.
If you like puzzle solving games that make you pay attention to pixel details or you want to take a glimpse into gaming-past, give 8-Bit Anthology a try. At the writing of this review, 8-Bit Anthology is $7.99 USD on Steam.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Pathways into Darkness, King’s Quest/Space Quest
- Integrity to the genre and time period they were created in
- Classically excellent Chiptunes
- Creatively dumb ways to die…
- Steep learning curve
- Slow pacing