an adventure game by Alkis Polyrakis
...a review by inferno
Who is he, anyway?
Who is he? He is an avid gamer with a penchant for adventures. He is in possession of an immense writing talent, which is stalwartly imbedded with style, wit and verve. His name is Alkis Polyrakis and he is the maniacally humorous developer who has created an incredibly hilarious full-length, freeware, third person, point-and-click adventure game. When Alkis wasn't sporting around the Acropolis with his fellow soccer mates or working through the daily grind, merely marking time as a guard at the Greek Pentagon during his stint in the Hellenic Air Force – or, as he is now, an electrical engineer --he has been hard at work with a certain story, which from the looks of it became a passion of his, an obsession if you will. And I am very happy to say that the end result is the "freeware" game otherwise known as: Other Worlds.
This adventure game was a labor of love ... and most of the time those are the best ones. Its inception began as a simple "text adventure" in 1997 on an Amiga 1200. It was during this period in Alkis's life that the story or "novel" was created and written. There is just the story, no puzzles or mazes. After the completion of Chapter One, it was here that Alkis realized that most probably not enough people would ever take the time to read it and thus there would be no justification for transforming his pet prize into the adventure game which he had been dreaming about for so long. So he left it locked away safe in his mind and heart... but some times, some things which we think are safely locked away have a way of unlocking themselves....
All I can say is, thank God that the "Dream Demons" were able to free themselves from poor Alkis's mind and spill out all over his computer in 2001 when he found the AGS (Adventure Game Studio by Chris Jones) Gaming engine. Haahaaa, I can just see him all spit 'n polish in his Hellenic Air force uniform out in front of Ipourgio Ethnikis Aminas for the purpose of guarding his country's Ministry of Defense all the while carrying in his pocket a small notebook with which to jot down notes, ideas and tidbits for the story which would one day become the game Other Worlds.
Ah, yes! Show me a man in uniform with a small notebook hiding behind the bullets in his pocket and I'll show you an Adventure Gamer!!!
After he found his own level of expertise with AGS it was only a matter of time before Alkis would be virtually scampering across the "World Wide" in search of "just the right image" to use as a background graphic, or sounds he might need for his army of otherworldly characters and sprites for his game.
I really didn't want to write about the plot at all; for to say too much, I fear would give it away and spoil it for you. But, this is a review, and needs must bend occasionally for the greater good. Suffice it, then to say, that the gamer plays the part of "Natalia" a feisty, intelligent, yet slightly “Pollyannanic” young woman (which is how one gets oneself into these fantastic situations to begin with...) where matters of loyalty and boyfriends come into play. Something quite disturbing happens to knock “ Natalia’s” normal and consistent world off kilter, and -- with little more than a blink of an eye or a toss of a marble – she is plunged into a world which causes “Natalia” to rethink the safety of what she has come to know as her own reality.
Technical Stuff and Nonsense:
As I remarked earlier, this is a Full Length Freeware Game, which you may download from Alkis' website. And I'm very happy to say that it's only 25.5Mb (which took just this side of an hour with my 45Kbps Dial-up.) Not too shabby. The really nice thing about this is that I just double-clicked on the one file that I downloaded called "setup.exe" and the game installed perfectly on my Windows XP system. I also liked the fact that I could burn it onto a CD and play it from there if I so chose. No .ini file is created; so to delete the game from the hard drive all one needs to do is just delete the directory... although for convenience there is an "uninstall" file as well.
Other Worlds allows for 20 saves, which once full can be copied to another folder or rewritten over the originals. In the Game folder you'll find a concisely written .pdf manual. There is also an excellent walkthrough here in the game folder, which is referred to as “walkthrough.exe”, but it is password protected.
(A mini adventure game here!!!)
While many of us who have already played the game know the password... you can obtain it in one of three ways... scrounge through various thus and sundry gaming "Hint & Help" forums and find it yourself, email Alkis himself, and tell him your thoughts on the game and he will graciously email the password to you (it's the same for everyone), or take this hint and figure it out for yourself:
"It's one of the characters' names in the game.... and uh... oh yes... she's female."
Another very nice point was that when one is restarting the game to load a saved game, it isn't necessary to sit through the opening introductory scene every time; just press "F7” and we're away. While playing the game as the personae of "Natalia" you will be able to "walk" "talk' "take" "use" and later on in the game "cast" as various situations come up and Natalie needs to interact with the Game Universe, The useful thing here is that if you right-click, you may scroll through the various actions to find the appropriate one that you need.
Look Out Saturday Night Live!
Alkis Polyrakis makes no excuses for his less than state of the art character renderings and background graphics. In fact, he goes well over to the other side in this. The background statics were mostly taken from various places on the web ... or did he himself travel to these "other worlds" complete with digital camera in hand? One will never know and I'm sure he isn't telling.
But I will tell you that while most of the characters are an eclectic lot... the background landscapes and locations are "true to our brick-and-mortar life"... they seemed to interlace quite nicely for me. And they made this fantastic journey for the protagonist "Natalia" quite believable. Alkis was the first to admit that he is no artist and that may be very true... but for what he was able to gather from the Internet together with his many interesting characters, he still was able to weave together a very well done piece of theatre.
I was interested in the storyline, motivated by the plot exposition, encouraged by the wonderful and sometimes inherently wacky music and laughed sometimes outright at the dialogue, which held for me a razor-sharp wit. Irreverent parody and sardonic humor has always been one of the highest forms of comedic pursuit. Other Worlds has it down to a tee... "The Saturday Night Live!" of adventure games, where no title is safe; whether it is game, movie or book. In fact, there are so many references made to various other games and movies old and new.... Alkis’s humor indeed shines through especially during the dream sequences and the references to Myst and Myst clone types of games... brilliant!
The Adventure is presented as a story-driven, two-dimensional, third person point-and-click interface. Very similar to Gabriel Knight: The Sins of the Fathers, Space Quest and Kings Quest games from the late 80's/early 90's. Remember that this gaming engine is "retro" and the game plays in 640X400 screen resolution and 256 colors. It can also be played in a letterbox format or in a window. You can customize these parameters by clicking on "winsetup.exe" in the game folder. Even with the graphics as wacky and satirical as they are, I found myself instantaneously fascinated with the adventure so quickly that it wouldn't have mattered even if this were still just a "Text Adventure" without any graphics. The images, for me, were like the icing on a deliciously light and airy Angel Food Cake.
Now, I will tell you that if you are looking for a game that boasts myriads of special effects, digitally mastered and re-recorded Philharmonic sound, T&L, 3D graphics and characters hand painted by the artistry of Michelangelo himself... this is not the game for you. However, (there always is a however...) if you have been searching for a game which contains an incredibly crafted storyline which has no holes, an eclectic and outrageously manic cacophony of characters, puzzles which vary from the sublime to the insane, dialogue and repartee worthy of the original Saturday Night Live crew, along with some very interesting Easter Eggs and graphics pulled in from just about everywhere on the internet -- then I urge you, I implore you to play this game. You won't be sorry. This is a marvelous, vastly entertaining romp under the guise of an "old school" adventure game.
Did I mention that this is Freeware? Which means that the only thing you'll be spending here is your time, and believe me, that's money well spent. Thank you, Alkis; I've cast "RUMPELEDYARN" which is a binding spell around this adventure, for it is bound to be a keeper for me. May your adventurer's heart stay as strong as the thread, which binds it.
Pentium 166MMX or Better
DirectX compatible Video Card 16Mb RAM
Pentium 266 or Better DirectX-Compatible 2Mb Video Card
80Mg of Free Space on Hard Drive
DirectX 5 or above
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
Microsoft Windows XP Home w/SP 1
Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz
512MB DDR Memory
64MBNVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400
Creative SB Live
DirectX Version: 9.0b