[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’ve been a die-hard adventure game fan since the dawn of the genre and I’ve seen pretty much every type of interface known to man. From the text parser of interactive fiction to the dawn of point and click verb icons and the more recent super simple “one click fits all” the way you interact with the gaming world has evolved (and occasionally devolved) in numerous ways over the years. And Charlotte’s Dream looks to take the classic approach and meld it with a more streamlined modern interface.
In the latest update for Charlotte’s Dream, Robert Guiscard talked a bit about how you’ll be going about doing stuff. From the moment I saw the campaign page the first thing that struck me was how much it looked like a Lucasarts game back when it was really the only company competing with Sierra On-Line. And the verb icons are reminiscent of this. Looking at the screenshots you can easily see standards like “Examine”, “Operate”, “Take”, and “Talk” among others. And you can play the entire game by clicking on each verb and the item you want to do something with. Just like in the old days.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this piece on Charlotte’s Dream if it were limited to such retro controls. A good deal of adventure games take the tried and true routes of yesteryear. What makes this update worth talking about is what else you can do with the interface. Those familiar with more recent titles would probably feel more at home with the “default action” scheme. Left click on an object on the screen to perform the most obvious action. Such as talking to someone or taking an object or opening a door. You get the idea. You have a choice of which style to use or you can do a bit of both. This adds freedom to how you want to play.
And this extends to inventory items as well. Any self respecting adventure game, at least one that’s inspired by the classics, has a bottomless bag of useful and useless junk and how you go about using them on the environment (or each other) is as simple as what’s discussed above. The first thing to note is that when you click on an item in your inventory without first selecting a specific verb the game will automatically think you want to use it on something. So, if you want to look at it, click on “Examine” first.
Item management is simple and intuitive. You want to cut a piece of fruit? Select the glass shard in your inventory and then click on the fruit. It’ll be automatically cut in half. And the best part is that some of these inventory puzzles can be solved in multiple ways. Just like everything else in the game. For example, you can drink a bottle of poison or you can pour it out to empty the bottle for future use or you can give the poison to someone else to get them to drink it.
That’s pretty much it. There’s no reinventing the wheel here in any major way but the ways that Charlotte’s Dream offers flexibility is something rarely seen in adventure games, past or present. I personally look forward to seeing how this all works out in practice.