Gateway II by Anders Gustafsson.
This is one of first Flash games I’ve truly enjoyed in such a long time. I discovered this adventure game on the Newgrounds frontpage and gave it a legitimate chance. It reminded me of Leo’s Great Day, one of the first amazingly well done Flash games I’d played, so I had optimistic expectations. From the title screen I could tell that it at least had great production quality.
The presentation is spectacular. Simple and clean – just how I like it. As you start a new game, you’re given an option for a tutorial. Which explains to you how the game is easily controlled with only mouse clicks.
I was hooked after the first puzzle. I don’t want to spoil things of course, but the story revolves around solving puzzles and collecting these video cassettes. You begin the game as this blank generic boxy character but as you progress through the tapes you begin to understand what the story is about. Through the story and dialogue you discover what these people are all about and maybe even care about them. So I was not only motivated to “beat the game” by solving the puzzles but I was also driven to know what happened.
The puzzles are fresh as well. They make good use of interacting with objects you collect with other objects and using them with the environment in practical ways. The difficulty is good, I sailed through the game smoothly for the most part. I got stumped in a few places but it was never frustrating to the point where I had to quit or jump on GameFaqs. I’m happy that there’s a good variety with the puzzle design.
The game has great audio design. Each room in the game has an appropriate ambient sound as you travel through this unknown realm. It makes me feel like I’m drifting in a space station or passing through the twillight zone. There are appropriate sounds for every action — footsteps, button presses, tape ejects, and so on. It may seem like a little thing but when sound design is executed properly it makes a huge difference in setting the mood.
As you should be able to tell, I love so much about this game. The biggest problem I have with it is character designs. The creator did so much with plot and character development but I feel that it could have been so much better if he would have designed characters that actually showed emotions. You know, maybe a face?
Anyway, I still stand by the game as a great landmark for polish and presentation. Just check out the options menus (closed captioning is available), a save menu and everything. Very nice.