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Tourist Trap VVG Indie Verse #XBLIG Review

VVG Indie Verse Review

“Tourist Trap”

By: Mr. Deeke

Tourist Trap

Today on VVGtv’s Indie Verse Reviews we’ll be taking a look at a quite different Xbox Indie title from the developer of the Mind’s Eye of Jupiter series, Travis Rogers. Tourist Trap showcases the same style elements that are signature to Travis Rogers’ games, and the graphics are also the same 3-D renders that are within the Mind’s Eye trilogy.

Tourist Trap 80 MSP

This Xbox Indie is an first-person adventure type game with puzzler elements–think of a free-roam version of Decay without the creepiness and toss in bizarre visuals and you’re halfway there. Utilizing the Sunburn Engine for 3-D graphics, Rogers creates a mystifying adventure puzzler further set in the vein of the Myst PC series. Tourist Trap is entertaining for gamers who enjoy these types of titles, yet offers little replay value–it was designed to hold you over with a single playthrough.

Tourist Trap
  • Developer – Domain of the Infinite (Travis Rogers)
  • Genre – Action & Adventure
  • XBL Marketplace URLTourist Trap
  • Release Date – 7/20/2011
  • Try or Buy? –  Try Before You Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP ($1)
  • Rating – 3/5

Welcome to the Tower of Mystery, the home of the most amazing curiosities in the world. Our museum of oddities and curiosities includes a genuine shrunken head, dragon venom, the first wheel, Excalibur and other mysterious items. But beware of the Jackalope! Discover the mystery in this 3D adventure game.

–Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

Explore the famed awe-inspiring Tower of Mystery, the spire that holds all of the world’s greatest bizarre findings and random enigmatic oddities. From voodoo delights like shrunken heads to mythical objects like dragon venom and the legendary sword Excalibur, the Tower of Mystery has many priceless artifacts for player’s to explore. Once entering the tower, players are unwittingly ensnared in a trap by the evil Jackalope. Players must find a way out by solving a myriad of mysterious puzzles that often involve exploring the environment around them, and making note of the objects and their fictional histories.

Image from Tourist Trap

II. Game Mechanics

Much like the Mind’s Eye of Jupiter trilogy, Tourist Trap is a free-roam 3-D adventure game where players inspect, explore, and ultimately solve a variety of puzzlers that sometimes require some abstract sleuthing. The Tower of Mystery contains many historical objects and is much like a museum for bizarre and random objects–some of which belong anywhere else than a museum.

The controls in Tourist Trap are pretty straight forward and easy to use–both analog sticks control movement and camera view, and since it’s a first-person view, these multi-axis controls will come easy to veterans of FPS titles. The Y button brings up the inventory menu where items are stored, A activates objects or picks up items, B goes back within the menus, and X equips the selected item within the inventory. Both LB and RB respectfully control scrolling to the first and last items within the inventory, and the Back button offers a hint during gameplay.

The key to this game is to adequately and logically use objects and items with others to set off a chain of puzzles that in turn must be solved in an order, eventually freeing players from captivity in the depths of the Tower of Mystery. While the puzzles can be somewhat vague and challenging, it usually takes exploring the areas and using logic to combine items with other items. Some mini-games like the Quiz machine take a knowledge of the lore and history written upon the walls, requiring players to explore and make note of the environment around them.

Image from Tourist Trap

III. Weapons/Items

Whilst analyzing the objects and artifacts that fill the legendary tower, players will come across a multitude of items that they can pick up and store in the inventory. Sometimes it takes evaluating the items themselves in the inventory to get a clue as to their purpose, but often their purpose is as obvious as their appearance. Many of the items can be used with one another or with un-equippable objects found strewn through the environment. Often it takes trial and error implementation to figure out what exact combinations are required for a certain object.

IV. Unique Features

Tourist Trap has a few unique features that set it apart from other Xbox Indies on the marketplace including the impressive 3-D graphics, the adventure/puzzler hybrid gameplay dynamics, and the general scope of the game itself. Each of these dynamics all affect how gamers experience the title itself, whether enjoying the three-dimensional free-roam adventure feel or dislike the often confusing and challenging puzzles.

Many titles on the Xbox Indies marketplace have lower-end graphics or exhibit a sense of nostalgia with bit-style graphics, yet there are a few that feature full 3-D graphics that can mirror the renders found in the early PlayStation era. Tourist Trap’s graphics are enhanced when it comes to XBLIG releases, and the world is quite well designed and implemented with interesting and appealing architecture–such as the beginning of the game where players get to see the full tower stretching to the skies above.

Blending both adventure and puzzler together is a signature element found in 3-D adventure games, as titles like Myst have seamlessly melded both genres for an original and enjoyable gameplay experience. Tourist Trap utilizes these dynamics and includes little to no explanation of the puzzles–it’s up to the player to explore the environment to find clues and fit together the pieces of the puzzle so that it all makes sense. In this game players are rewarded for their curiosity, focus, and critical thinking skills.

Image from Tourist Trap

V. Critique

The Good

The Graphics. Compared to most XBLIG titles, Tourist Trap offers awesome graphics that show what developers can really create within the XNA platform. The graphics featured in the title are full 3-D and players can collect items, hunt for clues, and probe the environment for a way out of the mysterious tower.

Classic 3-D Adventure Style. Tourist Trap somewhat mirrors the authentic experience found in early 3-D adventure games, as players must collect a myriad of items–some useful, some not–and utilize their wits and find clues to solve puzzles and escape the dangers within. Gamers who enjoyed PC adventure titles will most likely enjoy this Xbox Indie title as it contains many of the same gameplay elements and features.

Mysterious and Challenging. While most gamers prefer explosions, shooting, and fighting, this XBLIG title offers a more introspective experience that puts emphasis on wits rather than headshotting skills. Gamers who have enjoyed the Decay series might like this Indie puzzler.

The Bad

Obscure and Difficult. While mystery is the heart of this release, the game is too obscure and difficult for most gamers out there. The level of wits required to successfully navigate, collect, and solve the areas and puzzles is not something that most gamers are willing to exhibit for an Xbox Indie title, especially one that’s so vague and puts emphasis on reading and studying text.
No Action. Even in Myst there was some action…yet in this Xbox Indie title there is hardly any action within gameplay, making gamers with low attention spans seem quite bored and as if they’re wasting their time. Although the game wasn’t made for FPS fans, it could use a helping of action to spice up gameplay–maybe in a mini-game or puzzle.
VI. Wrap-Up
Overall, I personally enjoyed Tourist Trap, yet I’m a gamer who doesn’t necessarily have to have tons of action and shooting to enjoy a game. As I’m a gamer with a taste for multiple genres, I liked this Xbox Live Indie Game…yet definitely had a few gripes with it too. It’s not perfect, and it offers no replay value, yet it’s a nice game to escape the throes of overwhelming action that is the basis of most retail Xbox 360 titles. While the game won’t provide you with hours of gameplay, it is simply a title to play when you’re wanting something different. Tourist Trap provides challenging puzzles to solve and is more of a brain-teaser game than a 3-D adventure game, and the graphics are pretty nice for an XBLIG.
For more information on Tourist Trap and the developer who created it, please visit Travis Rogers’ official website.

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