When it comes to Runaway: A Road Adventure, I’m pretty sure I’m not trying anymore. I had forgotten how obscure video game solutions could be, and was grateful that Pendulo Studios were kind enough to have created a game that didn’t lead to horrible deaths or irreversible mistakes that set you back hours of gameplay (yes, again, I am looking at you, Sierra).
Mention of story and solutions to an obscure multi-year old game contained within!
Chapter Three of A Road Adventure begins with Brian trapped in the backroom of a small cabin in approximately the middle of nowhere. You have to figure out how to escape. The solution is logical and provokes no protest from my side. Once you have escaped, you run into a trio who call themselves “The Divas”, and the game is written just as it should be at this point: if you’ve run into someone who is blatantly a man, but is in a dress and going by a female name, collectively she and her companions are indeed “the girls”. Their tour bus has broken down out in the middle of nowhere, and at this point you’re forced to wonder whether they’re channelling Priscilla, Queen of the Desert or To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Love, Julie Newmar (That really is an unwieldy title). The three lack any depth but they provide enough entertainment without provoking any horrifying facial animations from the art team.
It’s here that long bows start to be drawn. What did I do this chapter?
How many of these solutions did I think of myself? A few, but in A Road Adventure items are really hard to find (I’ve read in the manual that The Dream of the Turtle is infinitely more forgiving in these stakes). Consistency in artwork is a good idea but important items should be more obvious. If you can’t tell background from foreground, a lot of unnecessary challenge is created. You have to figure a lot of things out in roundabout fashions: for instance, you have to dip a pair of sunglasses into a pool of oil (as in black gold, Texas tea) in order to switch them out with another pair of sunglasses, in order to convince Mariola that she has a better tan than she really does, so that you may borrow her tanning oil to oil a rusty old machine gun. Now, I would have thought that you could simply take the black oil and use it on the machine gun straight up, but … this was simply not meant to be.
I’m still interested in continuing the game, but without a FAQ where would I be? Most games you can get through based on your own instinctive gaming abilities, but in games like Runaway you need to have the thought processes of an Adventure Game Programmer: the kind of instincts that make you think that skinning a cat is an effective way to get strings for a guitar. At least it will make a vague sort of sense in the end; I mean, clearly that cat skin can be worn on your head to garner you access to the secret society of the raccoons, who happen to have a stockpile of piano wire, which you use to fulfill a contract ordered on the proprietor of a pita stand, which provides you with access to the pita stand’s stock room, which contains mice who realise that you have slain their great oppressor, which garners you a screwdriver, which you combine with a bottle of milk that you’ve picked up along the way, which you then deliver to the home of the world’s premier guitarist, whose instrument room you sneak into while he’s distracted by his freshly stabbed hand. Then you string the guitar and start to play but, of course, the neck breaks …
I have the sneaking suspicion that made too much sense. In my game, for instance, you don’t have to check the same thing multiple times to get all of the results you need from it.
Plus the start of the next chapter features a montage dedicated to Gina, who is really nothing but an annoying woman who gets into constant strife at this point. Everything’s coming up Runaway.