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Rosewater preview: a Western click-‘em-up

One of the games to stand out for me at the Rezzed expo in 2018 was Lamplight City. I’m a sucker for a pixelated point-and-click, detective games and a steampunk Victorian setting, so combine all three and you’re going to get my attention.

Grundislav Games got it right. Depending on how to chose to question a suspect, private investigator Miles Fordham could end up having people and locations locked to him meaning there was a chance for him to miss a vital clue. It was also entirely possible to accuse the wrong person of a crime – knowingly so – and have the choices made in earlier cases come back to haunt you later. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this adventure and was eager to see what the developer would create next.

It’s now two years later and I’ve recently had the opportunity to play a demo for Rosewater, thanks to the kind offer of a key from publisher Application Systems Heidelberg. The setting for Grundislav Games’ latest project is different from Lamplight City although it takes place in the same alternate 19th century universe. This time it’s a Western adventure which takes place in the sleepy border town of Rosewater, after the prospectors have realised that there’s no gold in them hills.

It’s here that Harley Leger has found herself several years after leaving New Bretagne and heading west to leave the past behind. She hopes to make her way as a freelance writer, but a trivial assignment for the local paper to interview the star of a stage show leads to the hunt for a missing man’s fortune. The Steam page says that our protagonist will encounter bandits, rebels, visionaries, eccentrics on her quest for fame and riches so it seems like she’s going to be in for a wild ride.

I mentioned above that Rosewater is set in the same world as the developer’s previous release and a conversation with the editor of the Rosewater Post reveals how it all ties together. Harley is originally from the town where Lamplight City is set and the talk there about a new power source called ‘Aethericity’ is now a reality. A news article about a disaster involving an aetheric generator divulges that a scientist was conducting his experiments in a laboratory just outside the town we’re now in, so it seems like there’s more to come.

On the whole the game plays like a standard point-and-click but, similar to how Miles could choose how he wanted to tackle his cases and suspects previously, puzzles can be cracked in various ways depending on your play-style. For example, at one point it’s necessary to distract both the general practitioner and sheriff. The person you send to help a hurt man determines who’s office he’s taken to, so you’ll need to use a slightly different tactic to solve the challenge as a result of your choice.

It’s then necessary to break into an abandoned blacksmith to retrieve a pocket-watch. At first I tried to do this the intelligent way and tried to open the padlock with the aid of a lockpick and rhyming clue – but when my attempts to wiggle the metal weren’t working, I transferred to the less subtle path forced my way in by smashing it with a floor-tile instead. I wonder this will have any consequences for Harley later in the title, considering the sheriff had warned us not to cause any trouble.

The demo took me less than 90 minutes to complete and gave a nice introduction characters and setting, despite only consisting of three real puzzles to solve. At the end, Harley helped save ‘Gentleman’ Jack Ackerman and his assistant Danny Luo with three thugs and they now trusted me enough to let me in on their plan to become rich. Together we were going to set out on a journey across Western Vespuccia to find the missing scientist’s hidden fortune and then spit the cash.

The Steam page advises that you’ll eventually meet five travel companions so there are evidently some partners we haven’t met yet. Based on this element and the ability to tackle challenges in various ways, I’m getting a real Unavowed vibe about Rosewater – and that’s not a bad thing. There’s also the chance for random encounters, with different situations and outcomes which will depend on your previous choices and available resources, so it seems as though there could be some replayability here too.

A message at the start of the demo confirmed that there is currently no voice-acting, and the music and sound-effects currently being used are placeholders only. I’m sure the finished product is going to be good though; designer Francisco González did some great work on both Shardlight and Lamplight City, and composer Mark Benis is back to create a soundtrack featuring live instruments. Add to that over 50 voiced characters and adventure fans are going to be in for a treat.

There’s still some time to go before Rosewater is released next year but in the meantime, why not head over to Steam and wishlist the game. You can also follow González on Twitter to stay up to date on his progress.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

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