Classic EGA-styled point-and-click mystery adventure with text parser unveiled for Windows PC
It’s been a long time since the days of EGA graphics and text parsers, but it appears they may just be making a comeback. With The Crimson Diamond already in progress, now another new game influenced by the early Sierra adventures has appeared on the horizon in the form of Kini’s Signal & Echo: Iris Is Missing.
The game stars a twenty-year-old journalism student named Ollie, who begins a three-day work placement at the titular newspaper in the mid-sized suburban English town of Runeton in 2001. Affable to a fault in such a cutthroat industry, Ollie is still very green, but he figures to be spending his time on menial tasks in the office anyway. But Katie, the paper’s kind but impatient chief reporter, has other ideas and sends Ollie out to investigate the disappearance of Iris Wood, a teenaged schoolgirl. Is this a test? A show of faith? Or just a way to get him out from underfoot? Ollie isn’t sure, but either way he’ll have his hands full “pounding the pavement and knocking on doors” in search of clues.
Designed with a 320 x 200 resolution and a 16-colour EGA palette, Signal & Echo looks like it could be a long-lost Sierra game from the 1980s. The gameplay too promises to be highly nostalgic, with point-and-click controls and cyclable cursors complemented by a text parser for use in conversation. The parser will recognize all nouns discovered in your investigation, along with many others that must be deduced. With no dialogue trees to choose from, it’s entirely up to you to frame your questions (and occasionally answers) in the most strategic way, like a real journalist would. You’ll similarly use the parser to search your computer for archived news stories that might prove relevant to your case.
Drawing heavily on his personal experiences as a reporter, the game’s solo UK developer Will Ackermann has released a playable demo on Steam and itch.io, representing the first of three days of Ollie’s assignment. The demo will challenge you to interrogate a handful of characters around town, collect inventory items, solve puzzles, and begin to uncover just what happened to Iris on the fateful day she disappeared without a trace. If you get stuck along the way (rookie that you are), you can always seek guidance from Katie, who serves as a hint system with a series of progressively insightful clues.
The full version of Signal & Echo: Iris Is Missing is a good year away at this point, but if you like what you see in the demo, you can continue to follow its progress on the developer’s website.