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La Croix Pan

La Croix Pan


Developer: TheJBurger The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2007.06.13
Genre: War
Graphics: Pixel art / 2D
Perspective: Third person / First person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click










An American soldier comes to La Croix Pan, a small town, in 1944 with his mission being to defend it against German troops. Unfortunately he is alone, so he has to survive on his own until the reinforcements come in. Sounds challenging, and that it is. La Croix Pan, the game, is for all practical purposes a tower defence game, quite literally. The protagonist needs to find a way to enter a tower, and then defend his position and stay alive.

The game combines two different things into one game. The other part is traditional point-and-click format, where the player needs to do all the usual adventure things. One of them being to open the tower door which happens to be locked, obviously. The other part of the game is more like a first person shooter, where you view the advancing enemy troops through the sniper rifle. Altogether the game is extremely short, as it is all about defending that one tower, and that's it.

The starting point of the game.The starting point of the game.
Even though the scope of the game is limited, what it does, it does very well. While the few puzzles aren't the greatest ever seen in adventure games, and the first person shooter part loses to almost any real FPS game, the overall package is surprisingly good, even great. What really is the strong point of La Croix Pan, is the atmosphere of being alone in a place which has been abandoned by its real citizens, and where enemy troops can march in any moment.

While one man defending a town alone certainly doesn't sound like a realistic scenario in WWII, it works well enough in games. Especially this one. First, there is the agonising waiting, standing alone in the tower waiting for those enemies to march through the street any moment. Then, when it finally happens, there is the desperate struggle to survive while you are being shot at, and can hear the bullets speeding through the air above your head.

La Croix Pan is not going to please every adventurer out there. As it is a war game, you can die. And probably will, as some deaths can come unexpectedly. Secondly, the shooting part requires some reflexes. The protagonist has a sniper rifle, but not an automated weapon of any kind. This means that after each shot, the weapon must be loaded, and there is also a limited amount of bullets. This all adds to that wonderfully created desperate feeling of trying to survive against the odds. But it also means that the action is literally action. The player must aim, shoot, reload, aim again, shoot again, reload again, etc. For players with little previous experience of action games or shooters that can be challenging, especially because the protagonist can't keep his aim stady, it is shaking a bit.

First person shooter view.First person shooter view.
For those who don't mind shooting and action, the game is a very short, but extremely engaging experience. Overall the game feels a bit detached, the narrative kind of begins in the middle of something, and ends with no real resolution, it is quite literally all about defending just that one tower. But again, the game is very good in what it is trying to achieve, and it doesn't try to achieve anything more than it is. Given the scope of the game the action parts are maybe a bit too prevalent, as there is as much action as there is traditional puzzle-solving. But what is a great thing is that when the player comes face to face with an enemy soldier, the situation must be solved through adventuring, using verb icons and all that, rather than just taking aim and pulling the trigger. Had the game been just a little bit longer, maybe the overall package would have felt a bit more balanced, now there's a bit of that feeling of having two separate game mechanisms in one game, which co-exist, but don't fully intertwine.

From the technical point of view things are good. The game looks believable enough to be a war arena in WWII, the sound of war is sounding like wars, few lines that are spoken by the characters are not voice acted. The game does autosaves in certain points and also has quicksave and quickload buttons, which is a good thing, as it is unlikely that anyone is going to finish it without dying on the first playthrough.

Overall the game could be longer, puzzles could be more challenging, and shooting have more variation. But everything is good, and the game manages to create that thick atmosphere, which is brilliant. Many things in the game are much better than an average AGS game is. Lightning can't strike five places at once accidentally, so to speak, and La Croix Pan received five AGS Award nominations - for best background art, best animation, best use of sound, best short game, and best programming in 2007. There are not too many games like La Croix Pan, which makes the experience somewhat unique too. Not every adventurer will appreciate the war and action and all, but those who are willing to accept those aspects in an adventure game are going to experience a great game.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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