Spotlight: The Goat in the Grey Fedora (Review)

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The Goat in the Grey Fedora
An on-line story game by Mark Darin, starring Jason Ellis, published by Pinhead Games.

Many of us expect little from adventure games. But the story game is not dead, no siree. In fact, it’s coming back to life. Just as bloggers and podcasters and videobloggers are ushering in a new era of media, on-line game publishers are ushering in a new era of story gaming.

If we expect little from adventure games, we expect even less from free games. But we should not settle. And the second episode in the Nick Bounty series by Pinhead Games neither asks us to settle nor disappoints.

Nick Bounty is a detective, not a Private I, though. He’s currently still a Public M class detective, because to become a Private I, you got to get a license, fill out all this paper work, blah blah blah. Still, he’s a murder and missing-persons detective. Have you ever heard of CSI?

Desperate for a job—And what game detective isn’t?—he stumbles into deadly conflict after a voluptuous brunette hires him to find a missing ceramic goat. Her name is Kathrine Ledbetter, but everyone calls her “Kitty.” Her uncle recently died, or was killed, but because she isn’t immediate family, no one will let her near her uncle’s things, including the ceramic goat. It isn’t valuable, but is sentimental, apparently, and Kitty wants Mr. Bounty to track it down for her. Oh well. It’s a job, right? So Nick Bounty agrees to look for the ceramic goat and soon discovers that he’s not the only one looking for it.

This is the story of The Goat in the Grey Fedora, an on-line story game by Mark Darin, starring Jason Ellis, published by Pinhead Games. The story is a typical plot-based detective story, told in a humorous film-noir style. The gameplay is classic puzzle-based adventure play, with an interface similar to that of Full Throttle and Curse of Monkey Island. Some of the puzzles have a quirky sense of logic, but once I got used to the quirky sense of humour, I had no trouble with the puzzles. On top of that, I was laughing my ass off.

If I had gotten stuck, I could have used Pinhead Games’s excellent on-line hint system. Just click on the “Hints” link on the web page. When you need a hint, read down the list of subject areas. When you find the one that applies to the puzzle that’s blocking you, roll over the hints to reveal them, one by one. Each hint progressively gives you more information, rather than just revealing the answer.

The game also has a cool soundtrack, which reminded me a little of the Tex Murphy series, and great voice acting. Its 3D graphics are rendered in a plastic cartoon style. All in all, it’s what I’d expect from a professionally produced game, which this is, and what I’ve always hoped but never previously gotten from a free download.

The Goat in the Grey Fedora is a Shockwave Flash game, which can be played on-line or downloaded for free from Pinhead Games’s web site. There are Windows and Macintosh versions available, and the Windows download worked on Linux under Wine.

It took me about an hour to play through the whole story, so it’s a short game but still enough for an evening’s entertainment. However, if after playing The Goat in the Grey Fedora you find yourself hungry for more, check out Brain Hotel, also from Pinhead Games, which is based on Ron “Aalgar” Watt’s Tales of the Odd comic strip. In Brain Hotel, Ed Arnold, a demoralized delivery man, delivers a package to a guest of the Brain Hotel on the eve of the annual supervillian convention. Being that the recipient was a supervillian, of course, Ed stumbles onto a deadly plot that could mean the lives of dozens of convention attendees. Again, a classic puzzle-based game, this game also has lots of allusions to Day of the Tentacle.

Play these and other games at www.pinheadgames.com. Also check out the Tales of the Odd comic strip at www.talesoftheodd.com.

About J. Timothy King
J. Timothy King

I'm the eldest of three siblings, a stay-at-home father of two daughters, the husband of a wonderful wife, and an indie author of life-expanding character fiction. When not writing, I read, watch old TV and movies, play bass guitar, and tend to my family in our Boston-area apartment.

Catch me on:  my web site Facebook Twitter 

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