Why did the American cross the road?

September 28, 2007

One of the hallmark problems of the video game community is vaporware, games which are planned and hyped and never come out. This problem is even more acute in the adventure gaming community, where the homebrew nature of development leads new developers to aim well beyond their reach. However, as a result, the games that do come out from first-time developers are all the more impressive, and TheJBurger’s “La Croix Pan” is no exception to this rule.

“La Croix Pan” puts the player in the shoes of an American sniper behind enemy lines, one day after D-Day. Stranded and alone, the player must defend the strategic village of La Croix Pan, both to ensure the allied beachhead and their own survival. The game is sufficiently brief that any further description would spoil the plot, but it remains tight throughout.

The graphics are strong, particularly the well-detailed backgrounds, which manage to evoke a haunting atmosphere with fairly muted colors. The character models are also drawn with a realism appropriate to the setting; however, some of the animations could use a few more frames. The sound and music is similarly understated, but where present, it is sharp and complements the seriousness of the theme.

“La Croix Pan” is much more of an adventure game than a puzzle game. Thus, the puzzles are focused more on telling the story, with relatively direct solutions that don’t require trying every iteration of the actions available to your character. This is heightened by the fact that every mistake can prove fatal to your character, but thankfully, the author has included an auto-save feature at critical junctures.

Overall, the game is notable not only as a departure from overambitious first efforts, but from the typical adventure game. Dark and tense throughout, “La Croix Pan” may be brief, but its concision serves to showcase masterful scripting and an excellently constrained concept. Although it may be an exception to the rule, one hopes that in the future, neophyte developers will see it as the gold standard to which they can seek to emulate.

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