Post-E3 Report: Phoenix Online Studios

If you've been listening to the recent episodes of the Darkcast, you will know that I had the opportunity to attend E3 on behalf of Darkstation. I spent three days moving back and forth across the show floor seeing previews, demos and presentations for upcoming games. Since I didn't have a chance to put my experiences down during the show, I'm starting a Post-E3 feature in order to go into greater detail about the games I saw at E3 2014. Phoenix Online Studios describes themselves as an independent game developer and publisher dedicated to "compelling and cutting-edge" story driven titles in every genre. During my meeting with Phoenix, I was shown three unique and diverse games from their portfolio.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition

Currently in development for PC and Mac, Sins of the Father is a remastering/retelling of the award winning 1993 adventure game. For the unfamiliar, Gabriel Knight tells the story of the eponymous Gabriel, a struggling author and bookstore owner living in New Orleans who is drawn into a murder mystery involving voodoo and ritual killings. Much like the updated version of The Secret of Monkey Island, Phoenix rebuilt Gabriel Knight from the ground up and features new music by the original composer, re-recorded dialog, artwork and 3D characters. The user interface has been streamlined to a significant degree. In the original game, the top third of the screen was occupied by a persistent toolbar that contained Gabriel's inventory along and interaction commands. For the anniversary edition, that toolbar has been removed entirely in favor of a traditional point and click scheme with context specific actions displayed on screen after clicking on an object that can be manipulated.

The anniversary edition of Gabriel Knight will be on desktop platforms this summer with iOS and Android versions coming out later in the year.

Quest for Infamy

Most videogames put the player in the role of the hero, a paragon of justice and peace. Fun as that can be, games like FableMass Effect and Skyrim have proved that being bad is often far more entertaining. Why waste time mediating trade disputes or property challenges when you can just kill everyone and take their stuff? That is the spirit behind Quest for Infamy, an old-school RPG that puts you in the shifty leather boots of smartass anti-heroes trying to make their own way in the world. Developed by Infamous Quests, the game is styled in the manner of classic RPGs as the player can select one of three character classes, Brigand, Rogue or Sorcerer, each with their own storylines and combat abilities.

Interacting with NPCs plays a major role and in the demo I was shown, the brigand Roehm wanders into a town and earns the attention of the local authorities. A fairly standard dialog system allows the player to choose a response to questions with snarkier comments yielding higher infamy points. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see the game's battle system or find out what role infamy points have on the game or character progression. I saw 

Quest for Infamy 

as a evil oriented version of 

The Bard's Tale

, so if that stirs any particular emotional or nostalgic pangs, it may be worth checking out when it is released on June 26th.

The Last Door: Collector's Edition

The third and final game that was demoed for me ended up being the most intriguing and exciting. The Last Door is an episodic adventure game inspired by the dark, macabre world of H.P. Lovecraft. Originally a Steam Greenlight title, all episodes were presented in a single volume back in May. Employing a low res art style similar to Sword & Sworcery, I was surprised to find myself drawn into the game's spooky atmosphere and beautifully haunting score and I can only imaging how it would be to play the game in a darkened room and a pair of headphones. This new edition of the game features new scenes and puzzles, enhanced grasphics, unlockable bonuses and remastered sound. The Last Door: Collector's Edition is currently available on Steam while the iOS and Android version is expected to be released in the summer.

Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.