Crowalt: Traces of the Lost Colony is a mixed bag. It adds a few cool ideas to the classic adventure toolkit while falling victim to some of its usual pitfalls. You play as Hugh Radcliff, a man with an unhealthy obsession with finding some of the first american colonists. After a very short prologue, you arrive at Crowalt in search of the final resting place of the Lost Colony.
Adventure games have a few key elements, one of those being a strong narrative. The vocabulary and grammar used here makes it feel like a translation but the author got a B- on his English exam. Its not detrimental to the experience, but noticeable from time to time. When he arrives in Crowalt, we watch the mystery unravel for the sake of plot advancement. We aren’t told why Hugh is pursuing the Lost Colony. There is no larger story arc, its just a simple dance of question and answer. Characters and their motives aren’t explored much beyond a surface level. This is not necessarily bad, just know that you’re solving what feels like an episodic mystery and set your expectations accordingly.
Once we land on the island, we are tasked with finding a place to sleep and begin our search. I can’t say how happy I was to see the main character move at a reasonable pace. I’ve played way too many adventure games recently where the main character moves far too slow, and thankfully this was not one of them.
The puzzles you are required to surpass can be a bit perplexing. As an example, we are faced with a tavern we cannot enter due to a “no wet shoes” sign, and yes while reading it Hugh is soaked in rain water. To solve this, he is required to find a hidden key, open a lockbox, find a hammer, find some nails, mix the two in your inventory to make a single combined item, find a nail puller, take down a “fresh fish” sign, then hammer it on top of the tavern’s “no wet shoes” sign. HOWEVER… the game hinted at all of these needed requirements so I didn’t have a hard time figuring it out. It felt odd. I had just solved a pretty convoluted set of tasks yet I was spoonfed these instructions.
There are a couple mini-games in the story, and I thought these were pretty fun. You get to bar tend, play five finger fillet, and some other cool stuff that I wouldn’t expect in a 2d adventure. You can also find artifacts that explain some surrounding lore which I felt wasn’t otherwise fully explained.
This won’t be added to the shelf along side 90s classics, but I could surely recommend this to a fan of the genre. While it does have its faults and is shorter than similar titles, Crowalt: Traces of the Lost Colony earns its merits and the time I spent with it was enjoyable.