The Blackwell Legacy: The game series about the shy medium and her ghost buddy started a bit unevenly, but quickly developed into a number of heartwarming and successful adventures. Created with an eye for detail and a big measure of empathy. A series that began as a tribute to the classics, but which has proven worthy of standing side-by-side with its role models.
Gemini Rue: A science-fiction adventure in the spirit of Philip K Dick, which turns expectations on their head with clever plot twists. A psychological thriller about brainwashing and identity, and about what makes us who we are. Are we just a product of our memories and experiences, and if so, what happens if they disappear? Gemini Rue asks big questions but offers no simple answers.
The Samaritan Paradox:
"It's winter 1984. Outside a snow-slushy Gothenburg, a cold war is raging."
Caption: The dialogs are a bit stiff, but the puzzles are clever.
It's winter 1984. Outside a snow-slushy Gothenburg, a cold war is raging, but the cryptologist Ord Salomon has other things on his mind. He can't afford to pay rent for his dump of an apartment, and when an offer of work turns up, he accepts. Even a pixelly adventure game protagonist has to eat, after all.
The Samaritan Paradox is an old-fashioned point-and-click adventure by Petter Ljungqvist. That it takes place in Sweden obviously makes it extra charming for us Swedes, particularly those of us who live or have lived in Gothenburg. For example, we get to visit a spot-on depiction of Järntorget (Iron Square), complete with a bar called Glenn's, because Gothenburg.
The Samaritan Paradox is a low-key detective mystery about dark family secrets, exploitative religious sects and dodgy weapons deals with dictatorships. Ord (his name [Swedish for "word"] is very deliberately chosen, as much revolves around the written word) is tasked by the daughter of recently deceased author Jonathan Bergwall to find her father's last, lost manuscript.
Each time Ord finds one of the book's chapters, the game switches to a fantasy setting, and we get to play through Bergwall's fairy tale – which naturally reflects what's going on in the [rest of] the game, with obvious allegories to cold war, narrowmindedness and other things I can't reveal here without spoiling the unexpected twist towards the end.
The graphics consist of nicely low-resolution pixels which hide a surprising number of details in their simple, stripped-down backgrounds. The music is atmospheric, particularly the extremely 80s-sounding pseudo-saxophones which appear from time to time, but the voice acting is very uneven. Besides, it's weird to hear everyone speaking English and pronounce Swedish names wrong, like "Signe" without ng-sound and "Stig" with a short i ("Stigg"). It sounds pretty stupid.
The puzzles are tricky, but usually well designed. The game occasionally descends into typical crazy adventure game logic, but the overall feeling is of stark realism, not least because the game often refers to real-life events. Despite a somewhat abrupt ending, this is a Swedish mystery game well worth investigating.