I was checking out the new Larry game. It returns to some of the places from the original. The original Larry, despite it’s comedic values, was actually a pretty dark game. It took place at night, in sleazy locations, it was full of unpleasant people who took advantage of the hero, sometimes in nasty ways. Over the years, the series took a turn to much lighthearted entertainment, culminating with Love for Sail, not a bad game, but a very mainstream, commercial, sanitized experience compared to Larry 1. The new one? It’s even worse. It looks like a slightly naughty Disney cartoon version. That doesn’t mean the game is bad, but it sure lost lots of edge (actually all of it).
It made me think about other beloved series that started with dark comedy vide. Maniac Mansion, the ultimate B-grade movie horror influenced game, turned into kids friendly, wacky DOTT. MI and MI2 were also pretty dark in my opinion. Some of the stuff was bit unsettling when I was a kid and graphics certainly helped to enhance this mood. This changed a lot with Curse (Monkey Island, the Sunny Beach Edition) and culminated with Escape, a terrible candy land nightmare, that would be too sweet (or too cheesy?) for Micky Mouse. Even the remastered version of MI2 also looked much more colourful and kid friendly than the original.
Obviously stuff like this happens in other mediums as well. Look at the original Nightmare on Elm Street and part VI. Loosing a dark edge is a way to make the product more commercial.
I’m curious if you guys are also bothered by this and what kind of examples would you name. Maybe there are some games that went the other way?
Can’t say I am. I’m okay if games are light-hearted and a bit silly. Actually, by and large, I prefer them that way. Not a great fan of the cartoon-y look some of these games exhibit, though. But one seems to go with the other …
Not an adventure game, but Divinity Original Sin 2 is much darker than the first one (which was already pretty dark and gory in parts). For me, part 2 sacrificed much of the quirkiness that made part 1 so unique to appear more “mature”, and it wasn’t a change for the better.
As for adventure games, I’d say the Deponia series also went that way. Graphically it remained the same, but story and jokes were a lot more edgy in the later parts. Still funny, IMO, and hilariously so. But there were people that found them distasteful and offensive. Not everybody has the same sense of humour, I guess.
Yes it is sterile and I had problems with that but I thought the tone overall didn’t change. I really need to replay Hit the Road though, it’s been so many years!
With Kings Quest, I think they went for the girls market which was something new at the time. I haven’t played that but it looks like a Barbie fantasy game. Ugh. Certainly eaten by a candy monster case.
I only played the first one and it was already somewhat distasteful if I remember correctly. I usually don’t mind distasteful stuff but Deponia didn’t click with me at all. Too bad, because it looked great.
I was going to mention King’s Quest if someone hadn’t already. I really liked KQ4 and 5, and then they just went completely Disney. I remember seeing the box for the 7th one and it just looked like the Little Mermaid to me. What a turn off… I stopped playing them after that!
I’ve also never tried the post-Ron Monkey Island games since the cartoon style just doesn’t appeal to me. Give me pixels any day!
There’s just a certain charm in watching little pixelated guys walk around, not doing much more than raising their arms, but your imagination fills in the rest.
Oh man, I can’t believe you didn’t at least try Curse. Yes it’s cartoony, less dark and not the MI3 we’ve been waiting for, but it’s a solid adventure game. I would be ecstatic to see something on this level published now.