Sierra has been perfecting their brand of computer adventure games for over fifteen years, and game designer Al Lowe has been a major part of that evolution. His ribald Softporn Adventure, re-made into Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, was religiously played by every teenager with access to a computer. In his latest project, Torin's Passage, Lowe has cast aside the bathroom humor and created a game suitable for adventurers both young and old.
The script tries to stray from Lowe's usual vulgar jokes, but still includes playfully overstated poo and hemorrhoid mentions. And while it's thankfully devoid of his usual sexist fare, you should be prepared for a lot of corny humor mixed in with a few clever lines.
Although Lowe maintained control of the writing and game design, he employed over forty specialized artists to create the game's visual artwork, music and sound effects, and it shows. Every scene in this adventure is beautifully crafted using a hybrid of hand-drawn cell animation, oil paint backgrounds, 3-D rendered objects, and the less fluid computer-generated art. While this may sound hodgepodge and gaudy, the overall effect is harmonious. Digital music, sound effects, and speech are flawless on a fast machine, but a major slowdown will occur below 75MHZ.
The puzzles, and there are plenty, come in two varieties: contextual (place gum on stick, use stick to pick up coin from grate) and exploratory (push the red button and the bridge lowers halfway, the green one makes it raise halfway). In an interesting (and pleasing) development, Sierra included on-line hints for all of the game's puzzles. This means no more long-distance calls to a hint-line or frustrating weeks of being stuck in the same place, but wanting to continue the game. Veteran adventurers might weave their way through the game's difficult logic puzzles, but novices will definitely need to use the on-line hints. Though this game is aimed at a younger audience, it may be too difficult for all but gifted children. Even so, the storyline and characters should keep the young ones enthralled while older siblings or parents wrestle with the puzzles. A fine family play.