Alexia Crow and the Cave of Heroes

ALEXIA CROW is a game that appeared in my library a little while ago on a whim. Puzzle games have always grasped my attention and I was hopeful that this would do the same. This game did, but I am not too sure that it was for the right reasons. ALEXIA CROW is best described as a combination of both point-and-click adventure and puzzler and by trying to be a little of both, this game has pulled itself into a corner. It does not do point-and-click particularly well and its puzzles are overly simple. So let’s jump into it…

Title and Settings screen


Settings

This games options can be best compared to a geriatric with a driver’s licence. Sure, it may have them, but it doesn’t do any good. The graphics options are “windowed” or “full-screen”, which would normally be OK if it were not for the unconstrained ratio. This game was designed and meant to be played in 4:3. This means for those of us who are playing on modern screens, you will need to switch into windowed mode to stop the game from being substantially distorted.   Windowed mode is required to play the game with non-distorted images. Coupled with sound and music options of “on” or “off” completes the menu. This is particularly unfortunate as the game sounds are something that you must have on to complete the game, but you don’t want to have on as they are awful. More on that later.  If you think this sounds like the kind of thing that would be an indication of a mobile port, you would be right.


 

Story

This game claims to have a story, unfortunately, it is incomplete. When I say incomplete, the game currently finishes with the text “Look forward to Chapter 2”. Not only does it fail to
accomplish any meaningful connection to the player, in some parts of the story, the developers appear to have forgotten that the heroine is actually a lady. This was particularly awkward in some places. At only 71 minutes long, it is reasonable to expect only a shallow or simple story, however, this does not seem to even achieve that, instead it appeared to aim for condescending. There was little done in the way of establishing who you are, where you are, where you were, why you are here now or even if this kind of place would be considered normal. The one saving grace throughout this is that the some of the scenery and backgrounds are quite detailed and pleasant. This is only a small saving grace, but it is better than nothing. For some games the gameplay is able to salvage some of the damage, however…

Opening Scene desert temple from Alexia Crow


Gameplay

Above I mentioned that this game is like a combination of a point-and-click adventure tied in with a puzzle game. The developers appear to want to push some elements of a story and they do that by trying to get you to click on various parts of screen to initiate events. I am not normally a fan of point-and-click, but even I can appreciate when it is done well. This is not.
Occasionally this game just turned into a “click on things until you hit something important” game. In some cases it would return an item which would help you move forward, in other cases it would load you into a puzzle that you must solve. As there is no hint system in the game it can sometimes turn into an exercise of futility as you try to work out what you are supposed to do and where.

However, when you encounter puzzles they can be quite satisfying. There is little done by the way of explanation, and this, I think is for the better. It creates a greater sense of actual exploration, true discovery. The goals of most of the puzzles are quite straight forward, but this does not always correlate to the puzzles themselves being tiresome to solve. The puzzles in this game are truly its saving grace. On the whole they manage to straddle a line between too challenging to understand and too being to easy to solve. When it is possible to work out the rules yourself and still be challenged by solving a puzzle it is a pleasant surprise.

Light shining onto a statue


Sound and Graphics

This game has some of the most irritating and slow dialogue I have heard in a game.  It has sound cues for when you click in certain places and as such you can quickly get tired of the same few lines repeating over and over. The background sound in some places had me checking that my headphones were plugged in correctly, the game was actually using white noise.  Unfortunately this background noise was considered as important as other game play elements, and soon after turning off the sound I discovered that it was not possible to complete the game with it muted.

The graphics for this game are appropriate for its style. They are pretty within the game. The cut scenes are hand drawn static images which, while they illustrate the story, they are basic in
nature. There is plenty of colour and they do manage to create a quite nice setting.


Overall

This game is okay for a 1 hour jaunt. As harsh as I have been it is only a simple game that aims to entertain for about an hour. My greatest concern is that it is definitely unfinished. There are too few puzzles, the story is meaningless at this length, and with such a weak story the point and click elements cannot be saved.

Would I suggest buying this? No. Would I play it again? No. Do I feel as though I wasted my time by playing it? No. It is not a game with replay value, but it is a game that you can appreciate for what it is; A simple indie title that is wanting to try something new. So, if you are into puzzle games I would say for the right (very low) price this game is worth giving a try, for everyone else, I would avoid it.

Side note – For anyone who is interested in this style of game I would whole heartedly recommend the “Nightmares from the Deep” series.  It has much better stories and game play.

 

Julian has been involved in the games industry for more than a couple of years now, from working in retail to developing board games to judging Magic: the Gathering tournaments Australia wide. Now as a writer for OK Games he likes to explore niche titles that try to approach gaming from a different perspective. Now all he needs to do is start finishing all those games in his Steam Library...