Heed

First-person shooters have muscularly overdeveloped space marines out for revenge, role-playing games have the angsty, orphaned teen who grows up to save the world, and adventure games have the wisecracking, quirky-but-lovable loser who stumbles into victory at the last minute. To say comedy is a staple of the adventure genre would be an understatement. Fortunately Ben Chandler, creator of Annie Android: Automated Affection, decided to take a different tack on the genre.

Heed is an adventure game without jokes. There are no sidekicks or rubber chickens, just a game that plays it straight. The game starts when you see a mysterious fly enter the screen. You can walk over to it, only to have it fly away. You'll spend the rest of the game chasing down the truth like an errant fly.

Heed simplifies the adventure genre by only presenting the user with a mouse cursor. When you click, it then determines if you just look, or if other actions are available, which it presents you with via a menu. There's no inventory, and you can't move about at all between screens. Each screen is a little, self-contained scene, which keeps the puzzles simple yet engaging. The puzzles aren't the meatiest, however they are meaningful to the story and the characters.

The graphics are surreal and beautiful, though very low res. The music is an odd mix of 1900s ragtime slowed down and distorted – it provides an eerie sense of calm. The entire game feels contemplative. There's never any hurry or complex puzzles, but plenty of odd beauty and fuzzy concepts to chew on. It's a game for sipping, drawing in slowly, and enjoying.

Why You Should Check This Out: Heed is a contemplative adventure game that is meant to be enjoyed. It's short and easy, but a great experience if you sit back and take it all in. A unique story with several refreshing takes on adventure game mechanics, it's definitely something different.

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Comments

I would also recommend Annie Android after you're done with this. Another short but interesting adventure game.

Man, I'll have to bookmark this - I'm in serious adventure game overload right now.

Dysplastic wrote:

Man, I'll have to bookmark this - I'm in serious adventure game overload right now.

Really? What other serious adventure games are out right now?

I hope to get to this tomorrow; looks cool.

PyromanFO wrote:
Dysplastic wrote:

Man, I'll have to bookmark this - I'm in serious adventure game overload right now.

Really? What other serious adventure games are out right now?

Well, for starters, there's Scratches, Still Life and Still Life 2, OutCry, Penumbra and its ilk, Culpa Innata, The Colour of Murder, The White Chamber (and it's free!), Overclocked, Rhiannon, The Whispered World, A Stroke of Fate, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, and Alternativa.

But that's just for starters.

I have to say, I thought this game was pretty bad. If people thought the writing in Braid was pretentious and unnecessarily obscure then this was ten times worse. I couldn't find any significant meaning in its rambling either. The puzzles are also all of a trial and error variety, boring and trivial. The graphics and music aren't terrible, but are very repetitive. I have to say, I had some hopes at first because stylistically it reminded me of Loom, but it really just doesn't go anywhere.

Latrine wrote:

I have to say, I thought this game was pretty bad. If people thought the writing in Braid was pretentious and unnecessarily obscure then this was ten times worse. I couldn't find any significant meaning in its rambling either. The puzzles are also all of a trial and error variety, boring and trivial. The graphics and music aren't terrible, but are very repetitive. I have to say, I had some hopes at first because stylistically it reminded me of Loom, but it really just doesn't go anywhere.

I've got to say that the humor in adventure games is pretty much the only thing keeping me going. When the humor falls flat in games like Telltale's Wallace & Gromit games, the music and art charm can pull me through. I think writing good stories is a lot harder than putting together some silly characters. The art in this game looks interesting, so I might give it a try.

Well, for starters, there's Scratches, Still Life and Still Life 2, OutCry, Penumbra and its ilk, Culpa Innata, The Colour of Murder, The White Chamber (and it's free!), Overclocked, Rhiannon, The Whispered World, A Stroke of Fate, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, and Alternativa.

I didn't know you were going to go back that far, Scratches has been out since 2006

Still I'll have to check some of those out.

PyromanFO wrote:
Well, for starters, there's Scratches, Still Life and Still Life 2, OutCry, Penumbra and its ilk, Culpa Innata, The Colour of Murder, The White Chamber (and it's free!), Overclocked, Rhiannon, The Whispered World, A Stroke of Fate, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, and Alternativa.

I didn't know you were going to go back that far, Scratches has been out since 2006 ;)

Very true. But to be fair, it isn't exactly a genre that's lighting up the charts, right now, so I'm happy with what we have.

Latrine wrote:

I have to say, I thought this game was pretty bad. If people thought the writing in Braid was pretentious and unnecessarily obscure then this was ten times worse. I couldn't find any significant meaning in its rambling either. The puzzles are also all of a trial and error variety, boring and trivial. The graphics and music aren't terrible, but are very repetitive. I have to say, I had some hopes at first because stylistically it reminded me of Loom, but it really just doesn't go anywhere.

I don't think there is any deep and meaningful story here. It's a game that plays around with fuzzy concepts. It's not a philosophical treatise.

I'm actually kind of getting annoyed that anytime a game isn't straightforward and explanatory of every little detail it's "pretentious". Why does everything have to be explained? Does someone need to write a Heed Technical Companion to explain how the source works in order for it to be meaningful or interesting? The game is free and lasts maybe 30 minutes, tops! I'm not sure what you were expecting.

I do agree with you on the puzzles, I kinda liked it. They're simple and easy. Nothing I hate worse than having an hour of head scratching trying to put together some crazy-ass combination of inventory items to finally get the light from the ceremonial jewel to land at the proper spot on the map to ignite the flubonium so the smoke can move the pinwheel which ......

Hmm, kinda crotchety on Monday morning

PyromanFO wrote:

I'm actually kind of getting annoyed that anytime a game isn't straightforward and explanatory of every little detail it's "pretentious". Why does everything have to be explained? Does someone need to write a Heed Technical Companion to explain how the source works in order for it to be meaningful or interesting?

I wouldn't call this type of thing pretentious, but there is a fine line between interesting gameplay that isn't straight forward, and annoying design. Fallout 3 is a clear example for me of a poorly designed game in many senses. It isn't clear how mechanics work, or in many cases where to find certain things. Even after reading FAQs and spreadsheets on things like weapon damage and crit multipliers, it's still confusing. If the game tries to be realistic in this way instead of having a giant arrow on the screen, you need some way to guide the player. In Fallout for example, a real person would be able to ask random people about any topic and find out where people are and how things work, for example "Where in this town is so and so?" or "What are the special effects of this weapon that make it much more useful than the stats suggest?" When you don't have the real life freedom to ask these questions, it can be very frustrating.