Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Ape Marina 

Publisher:  Screen 7

Released:  November 2016

PC Requirements (recommended):  

  • OS: Windows 7, 8, 10
  • Processor: Dual core Intel or AMD CPU
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectDraw or DirectX compatible card
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible sound card
  • Additional Notes: Mouse, keyboard



by flotsam



Ape Marina

We are the result of our tales which have gone before. Now Oblivion threatens to consume them.

Alfred Walsh has become the new librarian at a private collection. “Look after the library” is the exhortation, and “don't leave the room”. Sitting around doing not much of anything seems perfect, until the note you should have read blows out the window, and Oblivion is released. Then the note comes back, and Alfred must enter the books around him in pursuit of a way to overcome Oblivion.

Entering the books is a literal (and literary) pursuit. Find the book you need through the catalogue, and Alfred will pick it up. A blue shimmer later, and Alfred is part of the story, able to interact with the characters of that particular tale.

King Arthur is a particularly important tome, but not for the King himself. Rather, Merlin will be a constant source of help and support, making sense of things for Alfred and pointing him towards the next book. Alfred may very well find himself saying something like “looks like I better have a talk with Merlin”, and a chat when he says so is indeed a good idea. Very early on he gives you a small bell, which is the way to get out of a book and return to the library, and a magic bag, which is very important indeed.

Each book has its own inventory, full of the items you find in the Tale, and when you leave, you leave the inventory behind. Except for an item placed in the magic bag. It will come with you, and be able to be used somewhere else. It’s a nifty, if occasionally cumbersome aspect.

The cumbersome-ness comes from only being able to transport one item at a time. In some puzzles, what this results in is a lot of backwards and forwards through the library in order to gather the range of items needed in a particular place. You may have to fiddle around a bit in the library as well if your books are on different floors, commanding Alfred to walk down the stairs before accessing the next book. It was laborious at those times when you knew what you needed and it was simply a question of transport, and if you are stuck and think “maybe this item will work there”, you can do a lot of to-ing and fro-ing just to try the item.

The particular tale will help a little, preventing you from putting items in the bag that have no business being used elsewhere. Things that can be used can be taken, but near as I can tell you can then leave them everywhere, rather than in the book where they need to be used. And at least one item must be used in more than one tale, so it is still a management challenge.

Which is where I thought the nifty came in. Knowing where I left things, loading and unloading the bag, moving things about in the most efficient way possible. Yes the limitation of one at a time could be frustrating, but overall I liked this aspect.

When you ring the bell to depart a book, you will enter it again at the same place you left. I found this helpful in some of my more involved fetch and carries. It must also be different in books, because popping out of existence in full view of the other characters didn’t even raise an eyebrow.

Tales is another game in that ever more common retro style of presentation, presenting its worlds in a vibrant pixelly way. The library is the least interesting place visually, albeit splendidly crammed full of books, but while it is the centre of things, the books themselves offer a rich tapestry of places to explore. Rich and varied too are the tales Alfred must hop in and out of – from Jack and the Beanstalk through to The Divine Comedy, visiting heroes and gods and more ordinary folk in between. Thor, Athena, Gilgamesh and Phileas Fogg are but a few.

It will likely be apparent from the bag usage that inventory items and little side quests is a big part of the puzzling palette. There are though more than a few out and out puzzles, none brain busting hard, but some which required a fair degree of tinkering and thinking. Codes, deciphering languages and sliders feature, as does winning at pelota and Mayan tic-tac-toe (which you can play a long time in order to win). Some of these will generate a pop up window, useful for close up manipulation, but some at least closed once the mouse moved outside the pop-up window. No big thing, but irksome on occasion.

There are times when a puzzle won’t activate or an item can’t be used in a certain way because you haven’t yet triggered whatever it is that makes that response available. Perhaps you haven’t read the note or had the conversation that provides the clue to the combination, or have a reason to pick up the particular object or use it in the way proposed. It keeps you on your toes, so be sure to be persistent.

Some puzzles require you to do things in a certain time frame. Not twitchy actiony type stuff, just distract the person and then do what it is you need to do before they come back. You can fail, and even get captured, but you just try again. There are also some conversation puzzles, where the correct responses are needed in order to move on.

Tales is all point and click, right click to look and left click for actions. Generous hotspots will indicate things of interest, and the game screens are either single screens or scroll a little left and right. Most locations are only a few screens (Merlin’s is in fact a single screen) but they are full of detail and do not feel confined or restrained. Exits are indicated by hotspots, and double clicking will “jump” you there and load the next screen should you not want to watch Alfred walk there. Double clicking will also do the same for entering a book. You can save at will.

The exploration is generally accompanied by a musical score suited to the location, with sound effects throughout. Voices are a bit of a mixed bag, although Alfred is one of the better ones, if perhaps a little too laid back. You can though choose to play without voices at all, and everything will be in text bubbles, or without the bubbles and only voices, or with both (the default setting). Whoever is speaking will be displayed on the screen in a pop-up window.

There are locations and names pronounced differently across the characters, which I guess is typical of real life but I thought they could have settled on how to pronounce the Mayan city, and the use of “dude” was overdone. Voice level can fluctuate between characters as well.

Which were small things though in the scheme of things, and didn’t detract at all from what was about ten hours of jaunty fun (I did do a lot of jumping about). There is a good spread of things to do, all dressed up in a vibrant and engaging package. As for the fate of Oblivion and Alfred, you can find that out yourself.

I will be sure to visit Ape Marina again.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-6700 4GHz


Video card: AMD Radeon RX 470 8192MB



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