A GOLDEN WAKE
This is a game by Wadjeteye Entertainment, the company who gave us the Blackwell series of adventures.
In A Golden Wake you play Alfred "Alfie" Banks, an Estate Agent from New York. The game begins with you learning about a murderer being on the loose, this news coming from a poor, but honest, paper seller
who stands in the rain outside the offices of Morris & Banks where you are employed.
The game gets off to a poor start by contriving to have Alfie fired from his job at the firm his (deceased) father had co-founded. He is the top salesman and is trusted by his boss, Mr Morris, but as soon as a few pieces of paper
go missing Alfie is immediately made the scapegoat and dismissed - for a shrewd estate agent Mr Morris has the brains of a dormouse. But never mind as it sets up Alfie Banks to hop on a train and journey to Florida. It's Miami
in the 1920's and the town is just about to boom. Land is a-plenty, as are buyers, all it needs are the talents of a super salesman steeped in the traditions of selling houses.
The setting is the beautiful State of Florida, and the story is basically a record of the growth of Miami (as told by some nice, some dubious and some nefarious characters). The Real Estate business of the early 1900's was a real
hit and miss affair with buinesses booming and crashing far more regularly than the drumming at a rock concert. This isn't a totally accurate review of this period, but the designer and creator has gone for as much authenticity
as possible, though not with all aspects of the story/game. However, Real Estate sales is an interesting but not such a generally awe-inspiring hook for a computer game, hence the introduction of the tale of murder and intrigue.
The first person Alfie meets up with is Doc Dammers - little does Alfie know at this point but Doc is going to be very influential in his life from now on - who spots him immediately as a saleman and offers to help Alfie
There are two major Estate Agents in town, Merricks and Reilly's, though Doc conveniently forgets to mention Reilly's at this time. Getting in to see Merrick though requires some clever work on Alfies part. Basically Doc,
who is now performing the function of running a house auction (possibilities of realism may now have been abandoned) from an open-topped wagon (as opposed to the peddlar's wagon he had at the station) wants Alfie
to sell five houses to five people. To do this Alfie (this is you by the way) has to listen to each of the buyers in turn and then decide which of the 5 available houses suits them best. ie if one has a penchant for Blue you would
offer them the house with the Blue wallpaper or Blue flowers in the garden etc, that sort of match-up. You should easily manage to get all 5 correct, then go back to the hotel where you have a message to go see Mr Merrick.
Way before the "twist"
Turning up at Merrick's office without getting the message first does not work - the secretary will not let you pass. You have to trigger the event by talking to the receptionist at the Hotel, getting the message and then going on to
Merricks. After a brief chat Merrick gives you three tasks and that is how your map builds up - this is a game where you travel by clicking on the place you want to go to on a map.
Coral Gables Estate Office (Merricks)
The screenshots are far better quality than anything I can get on my PC, which makes me wonder if I need a new one (PC). There are no options to select the screen resolution which is a pity as although we may be in Art Deco Miami where things
are now considered "retro" the houese and people shouldn't be as retro as the graphics on my computer make them out. I really tried hard with Wadjeteye's "Blackwell" series but although it had its good points and some humour, it never really
did the business for me as much as I had hoped and thought it would. So with that in mind, to begin with, I had to clear my brain cell of all thoughts previous and concentrate on the game in hand. Something about A Golden Wake hit me almost from
the off (even though I believe when talking about the height of a house the word is (or at least used to be) "storey" and not as the creators here would have you believe "story", unless of course they mean that every house has at least one story to tell.
This could be a classic painting
As you progress you will receive rewards by way of unlocking achievements for doing the correct things and completing various sections of the tale and indeed a lot of the game play is linear; Alfie is often used to fetch and carry from one place or person
to the next, opening new locations at times as he discovers new places and talks to different people. However, there are many places where you can go off on a tangent from the story by following your instinct rather than a direct lead. This can result in you
seeing more of the game than was actually intended (though it was good programing to have it there just in case) and slowing the game down a little at times. there are also many places, rooms, locations that tyou can go to and look round and find absolutely
nothing to do, at least not until you have found and activated the trigger for that area - then it requires another search or exploration. So if you are in an area where something looks interesting and yet you cannot interact with it, take note (I literally take notes)
of what it is and where for you will almost certainly be coming back for it at some time in the near future.
The game takes in the expansion of Miami over a period of about 20 years, and Alfie, along with the people he interacts with, are very much a significant part of that growth.
If you like your point and click games to have a meaningful, quite solid, story behind them, then this is a game you would like immesely. If you want thud and bash action then perhaps you should look elsewhere.