Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:  Crashable Studios

Released:  May 2015

PC Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows 7 or 8
  • Processor: 1.2 Ghz
  • Memory: 800 MB RAM
  • Graphics: 256 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct X Compatible Sound Card



by Jenny100


Alum is an AGS (Adventure Game Studio) game that features colorful pixel art in 320x200 resolution. It takes place in a fantasy world called "Land of Tide." However Alum is also a game with strong religious themes. They may seem subtle at first, but become more blatant as the game progresses, to becoming downright preachy toward the end. The parallels between the "Unfeigned Altruist" and the Christian God are obvious. The protagonist's attitude at the end of the game is such an abrupt about-face that the sudden shift seems to happen solely to push the game's message of the "Altruist" being an all-forgiving deity. The emphasis on religion will probably be a deal-breaker for some, including those Christians who'd rather their games be more of an escape than a recital of someone else's interpretation of Christianity. However if you don't mind the religious aspect and enjoy retro style games that use pixel art, Alum is worth a look.

Characters and Story

For most of the game you play as the title character, a young man named Alum. Alum's wife Esther is suffering from "The Vague," which appears to be a form of depression. Esther no longer speaks to Alum or shows any interest in their lives. When Alum hears of a "cure" for "The Vague," he embarks on a quest to cure Esther.

Alum and Esther live in Kosmos, a city in the "Land of Tide." The "Land of Tide" is a freezing cold, inhospitable place. Inhabitants of Kosmos are protected from the freezing cold by fantastic "heat pillars" which spread warmth throughout the city. The people of Kosmos are also threatened by evil black shadow creatures. The Mayor of Kosmos, Mr. Glym, controls robots known as E-bots which chase away the shadow creatures when they attack the townspeople. Mr. Glym is considered a hero. However more and more townspeople are succumbing to the influence of "The Vague" while Mr. Glym denies the existence of "The Vague." Fairly early in the game you realize Mr. Glym may not be as benevolent as the people of Kosmos have been led to believe.

Throughout the game, once Alum has been "saved" (from both freezing and "The Vague") by the old man called "Symmetry," he will occasionally hear the "voice of Altruist" advising him as an aqua-colored cloudiness encroaches on the edges of your screen. Sometimes Alum does what the "Altruist" suggests, sometimes not. Predictably, it's always a bad idea not to do as the Altruist says, but the player has no say in whether Alum heeds the Altruist's advice or not -- even if it's perfectly sensible advice that amounts to "don't try to fight an army with nothing but the clothes on your back and your big mouth."

 Besides Alum, you occasionally play as Dashu, the leader of the "Rogations," a group that wishes to "spread the word" and cure the people of Kosmos who have "The Vague." During the final chapter of the game, you are able to switch between Alum and Dashu to solve puzzles.

Non-human characters include two "fallows," which live in a magical pool of water under the Vivit Oak (the tree that supports Symmetry's home) and appear as giant green heads with the rest of their bodies hidden underwater. The water from the Vivit Oak has healing properties, though it's unclear whether it helps keep the fallows alive. One fallow is good-natured, while the other is a grouch, but you must deal with both of them to solve puzzles and progress in the game.

Another non-human character of note is Gobo, a cute little orange robot shaped like a cube. Like the fallows, you must interact with Gobo to solve puzzles. Unlike the fallows, he is small enough to put in your inventory.

 Your biggest nemesis is "Insidious Umbra," the embodiment of evil, which can take the form of either an intangible black human shape or a large black cloud. The shadows that attack the townspeople and "The Vague" are manifestations of "Insidious Umbra" and Mr. Glym receives power from it.

Graphics and Environment

 Alum is an AGS game (made with Adventure Game Studio) with beautifully rendered 320x200 resolution pixel art. Game locations include Kosmos, with its glowing heat towers and pipes that suggest the energy in Kosmos is as much steam-driven as electric. The E-bots emit steam from pipes in their heads, and seem to run on some combination of steam and electricity. Other locations include the Rogations' hideout, the Vivit Oak (the tree where Symmetry and the fallows live), the city/town of Slip Town, a prison, Colemin's garrison, a dark tower, a sewer that connects to several locations, and a handful of small locations in "Outer Tide." Mountains separate "Outer Tide from "Inner Tide" and the only way to cross between them is through a gap that is guarded by Og the giant.


The puzzles in Alum are mostly inventory-driven. They start out fairly easy, but the puzzles in the 7th Chapter are quite a bit more challenging than those in the early chapters. Although there is a "Hint" feature, it doesn't always tell you what you need to know. The only time it was of use to me was when it inadvertently led me to realize I'd missed a screen exit. Although most puzzles are inventory-based, there are some where you have to interact with other characters or interpret instructions for operating machinery.

Your most important inventory item is your "rushlight," which seems to be an aqua-colored liquid manifestation of your character's faith. The rushlight can be used on other people to "cure" them of "The Vague," though they have to be willing to drink from it. The rushlight will also chase away "Invidious Umbra's" shadow creatures, provided they aren't the souped up versions. The rushlight can occasionally be used on objects to illuminate dark or obscure areas. Using it in inventory usually allows your character to commune with the "Unfeigned Altruist" and may provide a clue.

There are also some action/timed/arcade-type puzzles. Two of these can be skipped (you are given the option to skip after losing). I gave both a try, but ended up skipping the 2nd one (the one that involved shooting). In another arcade-type puzzle, Alum is falling from a building and has to grab a teleportation potion before he hits a ledge and goes kersplat. I must have kersplatted poor Alum about 20 times before I managed to click on the potion at the proper time and place. Of course the person playing the game on YouTube was able to click the potion right away, which just goes to show the problem with arcade-type sequences in adventure games – the dexterity level of adventure gamers varies too widely to assume something will be easy. Another action sequence involved a swordfight. Again Alum suffered quite a bit because of my lack of coordination. Why offer puzzle skips to two of the action-based puzzles but not the others, especially since the first skippable puzzle was so much easier than either the bottle drop or the fight?

Sound and Voice

Background sounds and music in Alum were good. Voices seem to have been performed by friends and family of the developer, with uneven results. The main character, Alum, sounded like he had "The Vague" throughout the game, which was OK in the beginning, not so much later on.


The developer, Crashable Studios, maintains on their website that "Our vision is to make an all new "point-and-click" adventure game with the same feel and vibe as some of the classic games we love (Quest for Glory, Roger Wilco, Monkey Island, etc.) but with our own twist." Their "twist" sems to be the Christian emphasis. Despite what they say, 320x200 pixel art and inventory-based puzzles don't automatically create a game with the same "feel" as a game from LucasArts or Sierra. The strong religious thread that runs through Alum gives it a completely different character, and it is certainly not a lighthearted, humorous game in the style of Space Quest, Monkey Island, or Sam & Max. Which doesn't mean Alum is a bad game, only that it's not quite as advertised and may not be what you expect if you go by that description.

The ending of the game seemed forced. Alum's decision seemed to come out of nowhere, and was inconsistent with previous behavior. Maybe giving the player control over Alum's decision would have been better. Combined with the annoyance that had built up during the swordfight, the game didn't have the most satisfying of endings.


If you have strong feelings about religion being mixed with your games, Alum is probably not the game for you. If that aspect doesn't bother you, and especially if you enjoy pixel art, Alum is a decent length, has many fun puzzles, an imaginative environment, and is worth consideration.

Grade: B-

I played the game on a computer with:

  •     Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit

  •     Intel Core i7 - 3820 CPU @ 3.60 GHz

  •     8 GB RAM

  •     Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti with 1.25 GB VRAM

  •     Realtek High Definition Audio (onboard sound)


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