We love to wax nostalgic on the Golden Age of adventure games, but even the staunchest fans will admit that patience often outweighed brainpower in the genre’s heyday. Recent entries in the point-and-click coterie have tended to favor the player’s experience in place of his ability to click randomly until something happens. The Realm is the next evolution of this trend, further emphasizing fun over frustration, engagement over exasperation.
The Realm follows the journey of an intelligent young girl, Sarina, and a recently awakened stone golem, Toru, through a land that has been reclaimed by time and nature. Sarina has ventured from the safety of her village in order to find a rare flower that can heal her sickly mother. While traveling through the forest, she happens upon Toru, a gentle giant with little memory of his past who is as naïve about the world as he is physically strong.
Although The Realm was inspired by classic adventure titles like The Secret of Monkey Island and Broken Sword, it strives to break free of the more tedious shackles of the genre’s history, specifically inventory management and pixel-hunting. The inventory system is done away with entirely, and interaction has become object-specific: when the characters approach an interactive object it will glow softly, and clicking on it will bring up a contextual action wheel. Thus some objects may have only one action available, like shooing away a pair of birds, while others offer many choices, like shaking, smashing, or picking up.
This removes the frustrations of trying out dozens of items or clicking all over the screen to find the right combination, while still retaining logical challenges. Sarina and Toru must combine their strengths to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles in the world. Often, Sarina must teach the childlike Toru to perform an action by using the “Copy Me” selection on an object, then selecting another action. Toru will then copy that interaction—assuming he was paying attention to Sarina’s instructions—with different results, thanks to his size and strength.
These tandem puzzle solutions revolve around Sarina and Toru working as a pair, and the story reflects this blossoming relationship, as well. From their first meeting when Sarina is initially afraid of Toru, to the growth the golem experiences as he learns from the young girl and the world around them, The Realm is an epic story with a personal focus. This is also reflected in the absolutely stunning visuals that are reminiscent of a pop-up storybook in their hand-drawn depth.
Every aspect of The Realm is bursting with passion and dedication to quality and immersion. To maintain this level of quality through to a successful release, Atomhawk and Lantern Interactive are hoping to raise £195,000 on Kickstarter. For a game already this stunning, that’s a definite bargain, but it’s only 27% funded as of this writing. We have high hopes this one will meet its goal and continue the next Renaissance of adventure games.