As a boy-type person, I am of course hard-coded to enjoy things blowing up. I’m not saying I rate games and movies by explosions per hour, or anything silly like that, but it certainly can’t hurt to have the occasional houseboat blown into a million pieces just as the main characters throw themselves flat on the dock to avoid the blast.
Unfortunately, Patchwork is lacking in houseboats. Maybe they’ll be in a sequel, if the creator does one.
I came upon this game by happy accident – I was reading a thread talking about various indie game bundles and saw a couple of references to a “Summerbatch” bundle having closed.
While I’d obviously missed the bundle, I’d never heard of the thing in the first place, so I went looking to find out what it was. Turns out, it was a collection of five short adventure games.
Adventure games are not my genre. They were The In Thing when I was a young lad in school, mind you, but I found them rather tedious and frustrating.
Still, one of the games in the bundle – Patchwork – looked fun and had been reviewed positively, so I figured that I’d give it a go.
Patchwork is a terribly traditional point and click adventure game. You walk around a few screens, pick up various items, wave them over objects in the environment or objects in your inventory praying that they will light up and indicate that they can be used, get stuck on an annoying musical puzzle bit and eventually come to a happy ending.
The fun of these games usually comes from the story and the characters, and Patchwork does a good job of drawing you into both.
You begin the game as a scientist, Daniel, who has just finished his life’s work – a teleportation device – and is getting ready to test it on himself. Meanwhile, in a parallel dimension, a young magician named Lin is prepping for an exam by trying to summon a demon.
What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Anyway, you wind up in the parallel fantasy world, with elements of your reality poking through like… is it stalagmites that poke up from the ground? I think so. Poking through like stalagmites, then, and you must work together to complete a ritual to de-integrate the worlds and put everything right before the dimensional stress rips both worlds asunder.
OK, most of that was a lie. The worlds aren’t being ripped asunder.
You ARE, however, in an alternate dimension, and at the same time you are also trying to study for a test but have a strange guy in your house all of the sudden who doesn’t understand what magic is, because you play as both characters as you work through the game, gathering the components for the spell to send Daniel home. This involves some light puzzle solving and a lot of walking back and forth between the game’s six screens trying to figure out with the orange that an NPC hands you right at the start of the game.
The two characters do see the world differently, though, which makes those six screens a little bit bigger world. I of course neglected to get any side-by-side screenshots to demonstrate this properly, but here’a an example:
This is the “field” screen, and Daniel sees it like this. If you walk on to this same screen with Lin, there’s a fire elemental playing in the camp fire and she has to negotiate with it for something necessary to complete a puzzle.
If I had one complaint, beyond the obvious one about the musical puzzle because there has never been a good musical puzzle in any game ever, there is one subquest which must be completed in order to finish the game, but which involves Daniel stealing something from Lin in the process. That one stumped me for a while because it simply didn’t occur to me at all that I might have to act like a jerk to proceed. It’s a small enough complaint, I suppose.
Anyway, it took me about 2 hours to point and click my way through the world of Patchwork and get Daniel home. I think that’s a little slow actually, I got hung up a couple of times on puzzles that adventure game fans would probably breeze on by, so it might only be a 60-90 minute game for those sorts of people. Obviously that’s a rather short game, but it’s rather refreshing to occasionally play something that knows exactly how to stop in a way that makes you satisfied but also means that you wouldn’t mind another hit of it sometime.
To back up a few steps, I mentioned that I had found out about this game after the bundle featuring it had already ended, which meant that it turned out to actually be fairly difficult to buy. The developer of the game hadn’t gotten it up on any of the traditional download services as far as I could tell. Furthermore, the link to his site from the bundle page just takes you to his deviantart page and there’s no way to buy it directly from him.
Fortunately, the digital distributor who had handled the bundle is still selling the bundle through the end of the year. It was about 8 bucks, which was a bit dear considering that I could have picked it up for much less if the bundle was still at the pay-what-you-like phase, and I’m rather used to the idea that 8 bucks gets me last year’s AAA title, but I decided that it was worth the risk and that I would just have to try to get 8 bucks worth of fun out of it.
It turns out that it’s pretty easy to do.