‘Pilgrims’ Review

Amanita Design, the game development team behind Machinarium and the Samorost series, have always been producers of non-traditional adventure games. To quickly summarize them, one might say they are known for following their own rules when making the weird point and click adventures we all keep falling in love with. The latest game released by the team, Pilgrims, seems to be another great entry in their library.

One of the self-imposed rules all the games released by the team so far is that there can be no comprehensible dialog, spoken or written. This means Pilgrims must establish player objectives and tools without telling us what they are. Unlike most non-verbal games, which would use camera angles and other visual cues to give players an idea of what to do, Pilgrims keeps things pretty open to interpretation. The most direct the game gets is when speech bubbles containing an item appear, to indicate something a character currently has or wants. How to get the item, or even if it’s worth getting, is up to the player.

In practice, Pilgrims can be completed in less than fifteen minutes. But with all the different ways players can reach the ending, this calculates to a game of a decent length. It was pretty fun thinking of different ways to be creative to reach the goals that I was setting for myself by assuming what the game wanted me to do. Unfortunately, with this wide openness there comes a lot of potential for wasted time. I think the most perfect example of what I loved and disliked about Pilgrims comes from a helluva story about my first playthrough.

To make a long story short, I ended up helping a Devil kidnap a Priest and sent them both to the underworld. But this didn’t affect my main objective at all, from what I could tell. A completely unnecessary condemnation, an arbitrary arbitration of a man’s soul. The funny thing is it was all done by me just combining random characters and inventory items, all up to the point where the priest is tied up and being carried away by the demon. I had very little idea what would happen at first, and as I was more successful and it all dawned on me, my opinion on the game cemented.

Pilgrims was a pretty fun game. It doesn’t do as much with its animation as the team’s previous game, Chuchel, but everything came together much stronger. Games like these that are so dang close to perfect make me feel very positive for the future of adventure games.

Played on Apple Arcade.

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‘The Turing Test’ is a Well Crafted Puzzle Factory

I played through The Turing Test recently through Xbox Game Pass, and I’ve been thinking about it since I finished it. The visuals of Turing Test featured an industrial theme, with everything you see feeling factory produced. The most unique looking puzzle areas you see are just rooms with different colored lighting. Every few puzzle levels we will encounter a human-inhabited room which usually looked a bit more lived in, with notes and personal items scattered about.

The plot of the game is straightforward – we are trying to reach the end of this maze to find our crewmates. As we progress through each of the puzzle rooms, we get to hear our player character, an astronaut named Ava, will talk to TOM, our computer friend about the difference between humans and artificial intelligences. 

The story is interesting, because it has almost nothing to do with the puzzles. The idea is that yes, you can switch between controlling Ava as a traditional first-person game, or as TOM who can only see through the eyes of security cameras or drones. But honestly, this whole story that’s established of the team on Europa and human morals? It could be replaced with a completely different story, and no one would know.

I feel like that’s part of the good and bad with the Turing Test. It’s versatile, like a mass-produced product. You can take it apart and exchange some of the lighter stuff, but the bulk of the experience will still be strong. Bulkhead did a great job on the puzzles here, and I’m excited for their future.

Played on Xbox Game Pass.

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