Throwback Thursday: Alida
Throwback Thursday: Alida
This is a classic adventure game. If you enjoy adventure games, then you will enjoy this one. The fact that it was created by a single person is just amazing.
Posted: 03/24/16 | Category: Review | Developer: Dejavu Worlds (Cos Russo) | Publisher: Got Game Entertainment | Platform: Windows, Mac

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure 
Release date: August 2004
Note: This review was originally posted October 7, 2004

Preface
 

The first adventure games were text only. As computers such as the Apple and the C-64 made their way into people's homes, adventure games acquired graphics. At first they looked like the line drawings in children's coloring books. Then they became like the cartoons on children's TV. And then came Myst.

Myst was the first popular adventure game for grownups. The graphics were more like Gainsborough then they were Hana-Barbara. The sound was less PacMan and more Pachebel. The story was more than just an excuse to present the game. The puzzles were actually integrated into the story. It's success was legend.

Overnight, adventure game designers decided that success depended on throwing out your hand drawn backgrounds and learning how to use a 3D modeler. Forgettable titles such as Entombed and Milo came came out almost monthly taking mediocre games and wrapping them up in a ray-traced package. They became known as “Myst Clones.”

But the term “clone” implies an identical twin. It should be hard to tell a clone from an original. Very few of these so called clones came remotely close to the quality of Myst. Playing these games did nothing to remind you of Myst. Personally, I think a better term for these cheap games would be “Myst Knock-off.”

And then came Alida. And it was like deja vu all over again. Everything about this game from the story to the graphics, from the sound to the navigation system reminds you of Myst. So I would like to present to you Alida, one the of the few true Myst clones.

Introduction
 

Alida is the product of one man: Cos Russo. If you have read my other reviews then you know that I tend to place independent developers on a pedestal. To create an adventure game worthy of the name requires skill in multiple arts and technologies, a passion to conceive your inspiration and an obsession to actually birth it into existence. It is the rare individual who can pull it off.

And pull it off he did. Alida pulls together story, multimedia and puzzles in a way which surpasses most of the “professional” titles on the store shelves. It is a loving tribute to Myst, paralleling that classic game in many respects.

Alida was first released and reviewed for the Mac computer over a year ago. It has just been released for the Windows PC. So I thought it would be appropriate to write a review for the PC version so that it would also show up on non-Mac radars.

The conversion to PC appeared mostly successful. I say “mostly” because there was one puzzle, the huge organ or “water pipe,” which crashed the program every time I ran it. Fortunately, I was able to get enough of the clues out of it to solve the puzzle. Alida's web site also contains its own walkthrough which can get you around this, should it give you trouble.

[18-OCT-2004] I have just been informed by Cos Russo that a patch has been released which fixes this bug. It can be downloaded at: http://www.alidagame.com/alidaPatch.html. Thanks Cos! It's always great to see a developer support their work

Story
 

From the web site:

“... The story centres around four young men in the band Alida that attained phenomenal success with their first CD release. Loads of money coupled with wild imagination resulted in construction of "Alida" - the theme park.

...As Alida was nearing completion things got complicated, their popularity was waning and money stopped coming in. Distrust set in. Each of the band members claimed different areas of Alida for themselves where they devised weird and elaborate systems to protect their wealth. They retracted from each other finally leaving Alida uninhabited.
Fifteen years later one of the guys is missing on Alida...”

So that guy's wife enlists you to go to the island, find her husband and maybe even find out what's going on. The game starts with you on an apparently deserted island covered with strange buildings and no clue as to what is happening. Sound familiar?

The story plays out well. There are newspaper clippings, notes and journals scattered about which gradually explain more and more of what happened. The island is given an interesting history apart from the band and I found myself truly interested in finding out more.

I had only three issues with the story: First, it only resolved the fate of three (if we count the manager) of the band members. What happened to the other two? Second, you begin the story on a balcony overlooking the sea, but with no access. How did you get there? Where is your ship/plane? How will you return? And third, the band apparently built the island to be a theme park, yet nothing is built to handle crowds. Transportation systems can only carry one person at a time and there are no public facilities (this seems to be a common problem with adventure games – a severe toilet shortage).

So we have a good story, but with a few minor plot holes. That earns it a “B”.

Navigation
 

The navigation is identical to the one used in Myst, from the static slide show screens right down to the Apple-esque pointing fingers. This really brought back the memories.

The system is tried and true, but did have one significant shortcoming. The cursor which just floats around the screen when there is nothing to do is the same as the cursor which tells you to move forward which is the same as the cursor which you use to click a button. So, you don't know if you can move forward until you click all over the screen. Neither do you know if any of those little things on the counter can be pushed until you click on them.

Needless to say, I missed a lot of hotspots because the cursor did not change to acknowledge them. This affected gameplay and brought the Navigation score down to a “C+

Puzzles
 

SShot08

Again, similar to another famous adventure game, the puzzles are almost entirely of the logical variety. There is only one inventory puzzle in the entire game.

The puzzles are logical and can be solved without a walkthrough if you are willing to make the effort. But it will take some effort. The solutions are there, but are not obvious. You will have to pay attention to your surroundings and be able to relate things you see and hear on one side of the island with things on the other side.

The puzzles are also nicely layered with the solution to one puzzle giving you the clue you need for another.

Integration with the story is good. The only plot hole from the puzzles pertain to the band member's vaults. The vaults were supposedly built to separate the members as they grew apart, but the combination is the same for all and one vault contains the clue you need to get to the next one.

My only major complaint with the puzzles is that they occasionally get very busy. It may take a bit of effort to solve a puzzle as you flip a switch on one side of the island, then go to another side to set a dial, then go to a cave to read the results. Fair enough. But then you have to repeat the entire process a dozen times to get all the clues you need from all the settings. That is just busy work and no longer fun.

But the consistent quality of the puzzles give them a “B” rating.

Graphics
 

Beautiful, 3D modeled ray traced environments reminiscent of .... you get the idea. The technology is contemporary with nice water effects and full color pallets.

The atmosphere is not strong, but very appropriate. You are alone on a strange island and it feels lonely.

My only complaint is the common problem with all static slide show engines; the lack of peripheral vision. I missed I couple of paths because they were right next to me and I couldn't see them.

Graphics gets an “A”. Nothing revolutionary, but they nailed it.

Sound
 

The sound effect were quite well done. Wind blew, birds sang, crickets chirpped, water dripped and stereo placed them all in the right places.

Music was moving and inspiring. It swelled at the appropriate times and really helped to make you feel like you accomplished something. The last time I remember hearing music like this was back in 1999 when I was playing ... well, I did say it was a clone, didn't I?

Sound gets an “A” and for the same reason as the graphics.

Addictability
 

Yes, I wanted to keep playing it. Yes, I lost some sleep over it. Yes, I went to bed thinking about and woke up with new ideas. No, my job was not placed in danger.

But it was not obsessive. The puzzles were difficult enough that you will want to set it aside every so often to contemplate and collect your thoughts. Which is not a bad thing.

Addictability gets a solid “B”.

Conclusion
 

This is a classic adventure game. If you enjoy adventure games, then you will enjoy this one. The fact that it was created by a single person is just amazing.

I really wanted to give this game an “A,” but the navigation system was so flawed that it dragged the final score down to a “B”.

Still, get this game. Pay retail for it. Visit the website and send a nice email to Cos. We need more games like this.

 
Grade: B
 
Amazing sound
Amazing graphics
Solid story
 
Poor navigation
 
 Logo
 
 
System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
- Windows 98, 2000
- Pentium 3, 700 MHz
- QuickTime 5 or 6
- 128 MB Ram
- 285 MB hard disk space
- 640 x 480 screen
- Sound card
 
 
MINIMUM Mac:
- Mac OS 10.1.2 or higher
- Macintosh G4 350 or faster
- QuickTime 5 or later
- approx 285 MB hard disk space
- 640 x 480 screen
- 24 bit (millions) colour
 
 
Specials from Digital Download
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