Touring England through FMV games

Video games have provided a much-needed escape for so many of us over the past year. While we’ve been stuck indoors during various lockdowns, we’ve been able to explore digital worlds both fictional and real from the comfort of our sofas.

Full-motion video (FMV) games have made a frequent appearance on my playlist and streams over the past few months and many of them were filmed here in the UK. D’Avekki Studios has created some of the best and I’ve followed them since completing The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker a few years ago. It was their next release, The Shapeshifting Detective, which introduced me to my favourite FMV actors: the awesome Rupert Booth and Anarosa Butler.

Titles like this gave me inspiration for celebrating English Tourism Week 2021. What better way to explore the country without travelling than through interactive movies? Unfortunately though, my research uncovered very little information about where filming took place. Titles such as ERICA by Flavorworks and Late Shift by CtrlMovie have either no Filming and Production section on their IMDb pages or one which isn’t particularly helpful. I did manage to track down some locations however, so let’s take a quick tour around England.

Great Budworth in Contradiction: Spot the Liar!

Billed as ‘the most picturesque village in Cheshire’, Great Budworth looks like a lovely place to visit for a quiet weekend (if you ignore the murder that Detective Jenks was sent there to investigate). The George & Dragon pub is a pretty Grade II listed building which we ended up visiting several times during our playthrough of Contradiction, although sadly didn’t stop for a drink at. Interesting fact: the telephone box our hero uses to call the police chief was transformed into a mini-library in 2011.

Sandwich in The Complex

I’ve not played The Complex yet myself so thank you to friend-of-the-blog Phil for letting me know about this one! It was filmed at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent, ‘a global leader for science and enterprise with world-class laboratories and exceptional office space’. It seems like the perfect place to film a game about the fallout after a bio-weapon attack on London and what the scientists do when they find themselves running out of both time and air in a locked-down lab… On second thought, do we really want to visit this place?

Shrewsbury in I Saw Black Clouds

I Saw Black Clouds isn’t the best FMV title I’ve ever played and I’d highly recommend that anyone thinking of playing it heeds the trigger warning included in its introduction. But the pub featured as one of the locations looks like a lot of fun! The ALB in Shrewsbury, Shropshire is a family-run cocktail bar and I wouldn’t mind trying their Bitch Juice or Bad Apple. For something completely different, check out the Shelton Hospital, the abandoned building where Kristina is stalked by something spooky.

Kelvedon Hatch in The Bunker

The Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, is the setting for The Bunker. It was once a Regional Government HQ where a team was tasked to organise the survival of the population in the aftermath of a nuclear war but is now open to the public as a museum. I’ve visited this place several times in the past as my stepson was fascinated with it when he was younger; it has such a heavy atmosphere, just like the feeling you get when you play the game. Check out this post to see my photographs.

Monk Fryston in The Dark Side of the Moon

We had a lot of fun playing The Dark Side of the Moon in March and were surprised by the developer and his family when they joined us during our stream. Instead of immediately looking for the missing children in the most obvious places, our friends in Twitch chat demanded we always went ‘To The Crown!’ first. Monk Fryston looks like such a nice place for a weekend away – so much so that my other-half and I are planning a trip to Leeds later this year. Look out for another post at some point.

VisitEngland, the organisers of English Tourism Week, and developers seem to be missing a trick. FMV games are a great way to promote towns and villages around the country that many people might not otherwise have heard of, and encourage gamers to get outside and visit them now that lockdown is easing. Come on, creators: share the details on IMDb, Wikipedia or the official website for your project so we can check out these locations and start planning our weekends.

Do you know where other FMV releases were filmed? Or has a video game, FMV or otherwise, ever inspired you to visit a real-world location? Let us know in the comments below.

Escaping in games and chocolate for Easter

Happy Easter! I hope you’re having a lovely bank holiday and are reading this while juggling a controller in one hand and a chocolate egg in the other. A long weekend is the perfect excuse for doing nothing but playing video games while high on sugar.

I’ve written about video games featuring various animals associated with Easter, but I struggled to come up with something new because there are only so many digital chickens and bunnies you can cover on one blog. I thought about covering sweet-treats in games instead but I just made myself hungry. And while I appreciated a friend’s suggestion of an article about resurrected series, I’m not sure it’s entirely appropriate (although I can appreciate the joke!).

Instead, I’m going to do something a little different and go closer to home. We don’t have my stepson with us this year so my other-half and I have an entire weekend where we don’t have to be responsible parents. We’re therefore going to make the most of the next few days, and here’s what Pete and I will be getting up to.

All weekend

It’s not going to be all about video games, for me at least. While Pete is busy sleeping in late and then drinking tea, reading the news and pondering the state of the world, I’ll be out on the treadmill racking up some more distance for StrideQuest. This is an event currently taking place for SpecialEffect and participants are aiming to walk or run either 50 or 100-miles before the end of May. I’m off to a good start after reaching over five-miles yesterday and you can find out more about what’s happening in a post on Monday.

My reward for all that exercise will be plenty of chocolate. Rather than get each other Easter eggs this year, we decided to buy a load of good stuff from Hotel Chocolat as a treat and the fridge is fully stocked. We’ve got a little bit of everything, from your standard fruit-and-nut to raspberry pannacotta sweets, and I’m most looking forward to devouring the white chocolate truffles first. I’m sure there’ll also be a trip to the corner-shop at some point to pick up some Creme Eggs.

Friday

Our good friends Chris Durston and the_Ghost_Owl have been taking part in Brain in Hand’s Minecraft Marathon for World Autism Awareness Week since 10:00 yesterday morning and we’ll be cheering them on again over breakfast. The team are raising funds and awareness for Autistica Play and have already more than doubled their original target of £400. Join them on Twitch as they make some amazing creations for this year’s theme of ‘space’ and chat about everything from wearing glasses to eating chocolate.

Once the 24-hour marathon is over, Pete and I will finally get around to starting escape-room-in-a-box Hack Forward. I received this towards the end of last year after backing the Kickstarter campaign for Key Enigma’s project in February 2020 but we haven’t yet opened it – and we need to as soon as possible, as the team’s next campaign is now live. Calling Card will see players tracking down a murderer across the internet and you can find out more details, along with a link to a demo, in this post.

Saturday:

After spending the first day of the long weekend lazing around the house, I’m going to drag my other-half out for a walk around a nearby wood regardless of how much he complains. Spring is the perfect time for a stroll through the trees providing the weather holds out for long enough. There’s a nice five-kilometre route which takes you through fields, past ponds and ends in a beer garden, but unfortunately we’ll have to bring our own beer as everything is still shut for the lockdown.

Our 90-day challenge for GameBlast21 continues and on Saturday evening, I’ll be streaming a new full-motion video (FMV) game. I Saw Black Clouds was released by Ghost Dog Productions on Tuesday so get your popcorn ready and join us on Twitch for an interactive movie about an unexpected death, dark secrets and supernatural elements. I love FMV adventures and if it’s anywhere near as good as The Dark Side of the Moon was last month, then we’re in for a great night.

Sunday:

Friend-of-the-blog Phil will be taking over the Later Levels’ Twitch channel on Sunday afternoon as he streams what is likely to be the final part of Days Gone. Although I don’t tend to play zombie games myself, I do enjoy watching other people and I’ve really enjoyed the story so far. Will Deacon and Sarah stop competing to be the most annoying character? Will we get to see more of Rikki? Will Phil be able to finish of the final hordes and finally get that platinum trophy?

I’ll be watching the stream to find out while I’m cooking a Sunday roast. It wouldn’t be Easter without lamb for lunch – but sadly, our local supermarket didn’t have anything that wasn’t the size of an entire sheep so we’ve had to go for beef instead. Pete won’t complain as long as he gets a mountain of roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. If we’ve managed to scoff all the chocolate, I’m also going to make a Victoria sponge so we can chill on the sofa with tea and cake.

Monday:

After meeting Darkshoxx during a stream last October, we’re going to get a chance to meet him as he’s moving to the UK this weekend. We’ve made up a box of typically-British food including Curly Wurlies, Jammie Dodgers and Marmite to welcome him to his new home, along with a few puzzle books to keep him occupied during the ten-day isolation period. We’ll obviously be observing all the necessary lockdown rules while dropping this off to him and will have to make do with waving through a window but it will be good to see him.

Once we’re back home, we’ve got another escape-room-in-a-box to try: The Balthazar Stone from The Mystery Agency. This was another reward received from a Kickstarter campaign backed last August and features a curious wooden chest, which must be unlocked to find the stone and break its ancient curse. I’ll then be starting The 11th Hour after completing The 7th Guest last month and receiving it as a gift from Darkshoxx, and we may even treat ourselves to a cheeky Chinese takeaway.

So that’s our Easter summed up in one post. What have you got planned for the weekend? Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a great time!