Speak to the trees and live a magical story in the point-and-click adventure ‘Trader of Stories’Filed inside: Games
Typing “free games” into your favorite search engine will reward you with an abundance of websites dedicated to the “latest and greatest” free releases. Most of these sites contain a massive amount of hastily tossed-together Flash games, with a few downloadable gems sprinkled in between. It can be difficult to find a free game that features the same amount of meticulous care that we see in paid titles. That still hasn’t stopped some developers from pouring their blood, sweat, and tears, into free releases that feel much more like proper paid ports. The Rudowski brothers are a shining example of this, using their adoration for game design and storytelling in their free release, Trader of Stories.
From the first moment you start this adventure, you’re immersed in a world of beautiful artistry and magic. Our protagonist finds herself awaking to a mysterious sight. Two small children that appear to be in costumes peer at her from a safe distance. Once she stirs, these curious little ones dart away into an expansive forest. It’s the kind of opening that instills a sense of wonder, immediately gripping you with an array of questions and fueling an inward desire to explore your immediate surroundings. Leaving the overgrown thicket of the start area tosses you into moonlit opening, flanked by large trees with carved faces. It is here that an old woman with a peculiar hairdo alerts you to what is really going on.
These aren’t children in costumes, and this isn’t some elaborate art installation. You’re smack-dab in the middle of a magical realm, filled to the brim with nature and a family of trees that are very much living and breathing entities. The “carved” faces are actually grown features, allowing the trees themselves to articulate, communicating with saplings and humans alike. This secluded land of wonder is where Trader of Stories takes place. It seems like the beginning to an epic adventure, but this journey won’t see you traveling to the ends of a far-off land. Your destiny lies within this sequestered grove. The conflicts of this quiet wood may not appear grandiose by scale, but there is a beautiful story to be told.
You’ll spend your time interacting with these towering Ents. Their stories unfold through dialogue choices, and you’ll need to help them solve problems via a point-and-click mechanic. The bulk of your duties lie within the nursery, where budding plants grow into human-like trees, sprouting limbs and beginning their journey to adulthood. Tending for these saplings is off the upmost important to the trees that surround you. These budding young ones are the future of the forest and it’s up to you to help the older trees in ensuring they have everything they need to thrive. This requires you to retrieve water, gather plant food, dig, do “laundry,” and a variety of other simple chores.
Past that, you’ll need to solve some fairly complex social issues. The Elder Council, which consists of the oldest trees in the grove, will occasionally call upon you for assistance. Solving their troubles may require you to visit an array of places within the forest, talking with a variety of NPC and collecting objects. One unique game mechanic comes in the form of trivia. In order to eradicate some pests, you’ll need to answer a series of questions. The dilemma is that these questions are deeply rooted (no pun intended) in the dialogue of the game. There is a mass of dialogue to uncover and an array of NPCs to talk to. It might take you a while to decipher all of the information you need to progress, but it’s a fantastic way to “force” the player into partaking of a story-driven experience. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge to get a player interested in what’s happening, and Trader of Stories actually offers up a rather endearing storyline. Your simplistic adventure is filled with beautifully crafted scenes of friendship, caring, love, family, and togetherness. It’s a very wholesome experience, and a very welcome change of pace in a world filled with needless violence and depressing news headlines.
The beautifully written story and simple point-and-click mechanic are great on their own, but developers went above and beyond the norm by adding gorgeous visuals and beautiful music to the finished product. The hand-drawn environments and character designs are nothing short of visually stunning. Soft colors and an immensely detailed world add an incredible amount of depth to this release. All of this is tied up with a neat little bow of pleasing sound effects and a mystical, yet soothing, soundtrack. It builds a journey that is just as awe-inspiring to experience as it is to play.
Trader of Stories is a smart, charming, and supremely well-crafted point-and-click adventure. It’s honestly rather stunning that a release this polished is currently offered for free on the developer’s website. Hopefully, we will see more projects like this from the Rudowski brothers in the future. With all of the talent we’ve seen in this simple free project, it shouldn’t be difficult for the developer to kick-start a project via one of the popular crowd-funding websites. If you’re interested in more information regarding Trader of Stories, or just want to follow the Rudowski brothers for future projects and updates, be sure to check out their Facebook page here.