Review: 8-Bit Adventure Anthology – Volume 1 (PS4)

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Yep, this one’s a must-buy alright. I was actually a bit under the weather a few days back when code for this arrived and amusingly enough, a few hours spent dying and retrying in all three games in this set made me feel a whole lot better. That’s good old old school gaming for you, kids. Anyway, here’s the deal: three classic adventure games for a mere eight bucks is a no-brainer, especially if those three games happen to be Shadowgate, The Uninvited, and Deja Vu. Do yourselves a big, fat favor and stay away from walkthroughs, though. Trust me on this one – your brain probably needs the workout.

While fundamentally the same in terms of interface and straightforward pixel art visuals, each game has its certain charms and difficulty that make them quite enjoyable and yes, frustrating if you’re not into trial and error or frequent game saving. Shadowgate has elements of fantasy role-playing, The Uninvited is a straight-up horror/haunted house game, and Deja Vu is a thriller/crime drama. If you’re going in cold or haven’t played these since the Macintosh or NES days, expect your poor main character to die at the drop of a hat. A lot. Your characters in all three games are cursed with the weakest skulls, brittlest bones and other ailments that make them all too easy to fall victim to any hazard these games toss their way. Believe it or else, this is a good thing.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s the internet age and all that, but in this particular case, using walkthroughs would destroy the immersion factor significantly and make that eight bucks seem as if you’re paying for something like 2-3 hours of content as you blow through each game with easy. Play these game as they’re meant to be played and you’ll get an idea of how and why they were so respected back in the day. Hell, if you’re old enough, you may even get a grin going thanks to the three save files that may make you recall sharing that those NES games with a slot for each person playing and yeah, SOMEONE had to share a file because they wanted to suddenly play when they started peeking over shoulders and wondering what the deal was.

Okay, maybe a few more save slots would have been nice. Say, ten, just to be on the safe side. That’s the sole complaint you’ll hear from me here, ladies and germs. The old school visuals without flashy bits still work wonders (you get a few filters to mess with if you like), the stories still lure you in (and then kill you when you make the simplest mistake), and those puzzles are pretty much perfectly implemented from start to finish. There’s also still room enough for the games to hit you on your character’s thin skull with humor when they need to, so expect a chuckle or three at your expense when death comes a-calling.

Well, then. I think that’s about it for this rather brief review because you know exactly what you’re getting and if you know what you like, you’ll like this a lot. The great thing is that price point makes it a perfect gift if you don’t mind sneaking a little game history into the diet of someone used to more explosive game experiences but might crave a bit more depth in terms of appreciating some old tales well told. I’m gathering there’s going to be a Volume 2 at some point, but I’m clueless as to what that’s going to contain. Clueless… but highly interested, of course.

Score: A- (90%)

-GW

Review code provided by the publisher

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