16 July 2012

A Grain of Truth

Gaming Genres: Graphic Adventure
Story Genres: Fantasy
Graphical Styles: 2D, Hand-Drawn, Cartoon
Series/World: The Big Old Tree that Dreams
Platforms: Browser (HTML 5)
Pricing Model: Free
Developer(s): Rudowscy
Publisher(s): Rudowscy
Initial Release Date: May 31, 2012
Website(s): Homepage, Homepage (dev), Development Blog, Facebook, Twitter
The Big Old Tree that Dreams is the name of the fictional world, created in 2005, that A Grain of Truth is set in. In 2011 the Rudowscy set out to create an independent HTML5 adventure game based on the world of The Big Old Tree that Dreams.

A Grain of Truth is the second game set in the fantasy world, The Big Old Tree that Dreams. In it you play a young woman Trader of Stories who is searching for her own past in the Plains of the Endless Grass. It is a point and click adventure game made completely in HTML, with JavaScript used to dynamically load images, text fields, and other normal HTML content, and was released in May of 2012. Because it is a HTML game, it is playable, at least theoretically, on any device capable of displaying a webpage; But if the developers have not accounted for different, small, screen sizes it is entirely possible that many mobile devices would make it impossible/nearly impossible to play.

The Big Old Tree that Dreams is a fantasy punk world that revolves around a gigantic oak tree, called the Great Oak, which coves the size of a mountain range and is many times taller; This tree, which is viewable from the far corners of the world, is venerated as a god and understandably is in their many stories, legends, and myths. The world is filled with interesting and unique lands, like the city of Bark encircling the Great Oak, but this story is set completely in the Plains of the Endless Grass; Where, stories claim, there are floating rocks and a Wiseman, who knows every story ever told. This world is fantastic, and I am happy to see that this is neither the first nor last game planed for it. It is very unique and uses an over-stylised punk style, but does not conform to any particular sub-genre that I am aware of.

After a long journey through the Plains, Myosotis, our protagonist, finally finds some floating stones, and this is where A Grain of Truth starts off. Right off the bat, you meet a team of cloud harvesters, who harvest clouds, to make into bed-cloths, right out of the very sky. They do this cloud harvesting on the back of a giant living Cloud Eater, a Sauropoda style creature which they brought from a far away land. This cloud ship  is one of the more prominent locations that you visit and you will be coming here over and over again, in your search for the truth of your past, and your quest to find the old wiseman.

While A Grain of Truth is not at all normal behind the scenes, HTML games are not common, it does a great job of presenting it in a very classic style. The game offers beautiful static backgrounds, lots of text dialogue, a soundtrack, an inventory system that involves combining items, a cursor that changes over interactive areas and a way to highlight all of these areas on any given scene, a save game system, and even a map of the game world that allows instant travel to every scene you have visited in the past. The artwork of this game is one of its better features. The world, and the people in it, are beautifully illustrated and while these images are all static they really bring the world alive.

The gameplay consists of some pretty normal inventory based puzzles, and a few abstract logic puzzles, with some very unique challenges thrown in. One series of puzzles has you collect keywords throughout the world by talking to people and inspecting the scenery; These words are then used to form questions, gaining insight into this world and the people you meet. This segment is required to beat the game, but runs parallel to the rest of it as you are not required to ask a single question before the very end of the game. Similarly, you must collect 18 thoughts throughout the game and arrange them to finish the game. But, the most unique element of all is completely optional and available only at the very end. You, get to talk to the Wiseman and ask him anything you wish, the game provides a text input and he has programmed responses for a number of relevant topics.

A Grain of Truth is a fantastic game. Not only does it have a wonderful story, but delightful graphics, decent puzzles, and a great interface. It is a type of game that just grabs you right off with its charm, and at least in my case never let me go.

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Hints/Tips/Walkthrough (+):
Indieness: Indie
Play?: Should Play

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