I really enjoyed my time in Shady Brook. At first it seemed like a nice place to live, neighbors were friendly, town was quiet, and there were some beautiful sites to see. It seemed like a nice place to live that is, until one of the neighbors committed suicide. Shady Brook is a text/adventure game based on a 2005 game of the same name. I never played the original, but heard great things about it. In fact the 2005 original got best indie game 2005, so much respect. The games developers Unimatrix is a small goup that had a passion for adventure games of old, and followed their passion to create some great adventure games. I personally really enjoy a good text adventure, because much like a good book, a well written story can really draw you in. This game has a really intriguing narrative that keeps you moving forward. We will talk a bit more about the story in a little bit, for now lets just say, it started of a bit slow, but really picked up quickly. The game plays out like a really well done visual novel.
Graphics – 7/10
This game was a really hard one to score as far as graphics go. Most text adventure games have pretty static graphics if any at all. Shady Brook, wont blow you away if graphics are the most important to you. The reason I am scoring it so high is because I really like the art work that went into the “pictures”. There are over 250 pieces of artwork in this game, and it all looks really good. There are some interactive parts in the game, but its mostly static. This is an indie developer who has a passion for Adventure games and it really show’s in the art work. There were some areas in the game were I would visit just to look at the artwork and relax.
Story – 10/10
This is where this game really shines. You play as Author Jake Torrent, who moved to Shady Brook along with his blind father to get inspiration for his writing. I really appreciated the relationship between him and his father, the way Jake treated his father helped me to care about his character, which is a good thing when you spend an entire game following him around. This is an 8 hour texted base game, that kept me playing until the very end based on the strength of its story alone. I am big on graphics, I have a rig that at this point can handle whatever is thrown at it(atleast in 1080p), so for me to get this involved in a text adventure game says a lot about the strength of the writing here. I don’t want to get into plot points, most of the fun involves finding out yourself. We will just say that it had a very twins peak feel to it. All I can say is well done.
Audio – 8/10
Not too much to talk about here. What is here is done well, but again its a text adventure. you won’t get surround sound that will blow your mind. What you do get is some great atmospheric music and little noises here and there. Sometimes you will go by a waterfall and hear the calming rush of water, other times random footprints. Much like the graphics, it wont blow you away, but what’s here is good. There were several times where I caught myself saying, I want this soundtrack, especially the soothing music in the calmer parts of the game. I never felt like any of the music or other sound in this place was ever out of place. That’s a big deal to me, because I have played some triple A, huge budget games were music would come in at random times and it was somewhat jarring. I really felt like they understood when the music was appropriate.
Gameplay – 8/10
For a point and click text adventure, there was a lot more to do then I was expecting. The puzzles were very clever and challenging. There was a lot of investigating and talking to the neighbors, and a whole lot of reading. If you don’t like reading this is not the genre for you. You also combined a lot of items, which I found fun, especially when it unlocked a new area to explore. Speaking of exploring there is a lot of it in this game. I felt like I was continuously discovering new areas in the game. I have played some point and click games that felt off, like I was clicking on something and it wouldn’t register. This game had no such issue, although simple, everything felt very smooth. One of the biggest things that set this apart was, it actually had a compass and inventory system, which helped with the aforementioned puzzles.
Family Friendly rating – 6/10
This is a very dark and mature game. Especially if you choose the unedited version(it gives you a choice in the beginning). Not really for the kids. Then again most kids would have a hard time focusing on a text adventure like shady brooks.
This is a must play if you are a fan of the genre, even f you aren’t give it a shot. Its only $4.00 on pc, android and IOS. The version I reviewed was PC. You get a lot of content for not very much money. Cant wait to see what else these guys come up with.