If you’re like me and grew up playing the classic adventure games like King’s Quest and Quest for Glory, or if you get can’t get enough of modern adventure games like Emerald City Confidential, then you owe it to yourself to check out The Tales of Bingwood: To Save a Princess. The game’s zany humor, brain-teasing point-and-click puzzles, and colorful "retro" graphics pay homage to the best adventure games of yesterday while piling on unique charms of its own.
The first game of a planned trilogy, the fantasy-themed adventure stars young Tombrandt Driftwood, a fisherman’s son who is reluctantly thrust into the spotlight when the princess goes missing and his village volunteers him for the rescue mission.
Like your typical point-and-click adventure game, Tom moves free from scene to scene as he explores the town of Bingwood and gathers the things he needs to set off on his adventure. By using different foot, eye, mouth and hand icons, Tom can interact with his environment in different ways, by walking around, examining objects, talking to people for clues about what to do next, and picking up certain items to add them to his inventory.
Much of To Save a Princes is about puzzle-solving; that is, figuring out which items need to be used in certain situations, such as how to catch a crow that has flown off with an important key, investigate an area that’s too dark to see with the naked eye, or help the Innkeeper get rid of her unwanted guests.
The puzzles are very clever, with a few deliberate curveballs thrown in that have you convinced a puzzle has to be solved a certain way only to find out that the solution is something completely different. The caveat of course, as with all adventure games, is that the game requires clicking through a fair bit of dialogue with various characters in order to learn necessary hints about what to do next. Dialogue is presented in voice-over and often accompanied by amusing little cutscenes, though, and the characters themselves are so lively and amusing that talking to them rarely seems like a chore.
Although The Tales of Bingwood is presented in a retro style, its graphics are actually quite nuanced and expressive within the flat 2-D confines. The game also boasts excellent sound, from pleasant medieval-inspired music and sound effects that really bring the town of Bingwood to life like the shouts and clinking glasses as you approach the Inn, or the sound of a
hammer clanking on an anvil outside the Smithy.
For what it is, a "retro" adventure game, my complaints with The Tales of Bingwood: To Save a Princess are few. There’s no official in-game hints system – although the game has its way of dropping subtle hints anyway – so be prepared to get stuck every so often and have to backtrack around trying to figure out what you missed. Thankfully, there’s a map that allows you to fast-travel to any location you’ve visited previously, which makes moving around far less tedious. The inventory window is also kind of small, so you’ll find yourself doing a lot of scrolling to see all the items you’ve picked up.
As for length, the game’s about average provided you don’t rely too heavily on a walkthrough and blow through the game too quickly. Part of the fun is being stuck every so often and having to sit and think things through.
The Tales of Bingwood: To Save a Princess is a fun start to what’s shaping up to be a great adventure game series. I, for one, am really looking forward to Part 2.