Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 11 August 2013. Last updated on 12 August 2013.
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Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1
Max gets a distress message from Tanya on his computer.
Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1
A neighbor tells Max about a newspaper theft.
Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1
Julia invites Max for more than just a cup of tea!
Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1
Max distracts the dog to gain an opportune moment.
Adventures of Max Fax: Episode 1
Max finds love most unexpectedly.

Adventures of Max Fax is the first commercial game from indie developer Alexander Kucherenko. By writing the script, creating the artwork, composing the music, and programming the game all by himself, Kucherenko is proving to be more than a competent Jack-of-all-trades game designer. Built using Adventure Game Studio (AGS), the game has taken about a year to develop according to Kucherenko. The final release of the game even supports 6 different languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. The game features some juvenile humor not unlike the Leisure Suit Larry series, though the humor is less risqué and not at all gratuitous.

In this third-person point-and-click comedy adventure, you take on the role of young Max Fax. Max is a simple carefree chap who lives in an apartment building. Always willing to help out his friends and neighbors, he never has time to settle down and relax by himself. With the weekend arriving, Max gets a message from a girl who wants him to help her get back with her boyfriend. Max also finds himself busy tracking down a thief who is stealing the neighbors' newspapers as well as aiding another neighbor to get a chance at being a famous singer. All the while, Max meets a potpourri of other zany characters in the apartment building, all of them have troubles of their own.

The game is currently available only as a digital download. After installing the game file, you will be asked to enter an activation code (license key). The game supports a native resolution of only 640x480 pixels, though it can be played in either full screen or windowed mode.

Upon starting the game, you will be given a choice to select your preferred language. The main interface occupies the entire lower third of the screen, where it displays your inventory, your current score, and system options to save, load, and exit the game as well as a sliding control to set the volume for music and sound effects. The game supports only a single save slot. Selecting load after restarting the game will return you to your last save. The game does not create a save automatically when you exit the game. Clicking the help icon at the bottom left corner of the screen brings up a help screen explaining the game's controls.

The game begins in Max's bedroom on a weekend morning, with Max commenting that he finally has time to begin doing his "favorite thing" (whatever that is). Looking at his computer, Max finds a distress message from his friend Tanya telling him that her boyfriend Sergey has left her. Leaving his own flat to find Tanya who also lives in the same apartment building, Max meets a neighbor by the elevator who complains that some thief has been stealing all the newspapers being delivered to the tenants. Not surprisingly, Max volunteers to help to find out who the resident thief is. Soon, Max finds himself muddling in many other tenants' problems. It is you to help Max to restore the status quo to the neighborhood.

The game's visuals are colorful and feature comic cartoon like characters. The plot is simple but suffices for a game of limited length. The humor is playful and lighthearted, bringing up the occasional smile and chuckle. The writing also makes occasional use of humorous puns and double entendres. For example, when Julia invites Max for tea with "buns", Max quickly learns that these "buns" are not the edible type!

Over the course of Max's brief adventure, you will interact with a cast of some 11 other characters and even a cat and a dog. You will also need to find some 14 objects. The game features a number of menial puzzles to solve, all of which are inventory based. For example, early on you will have to find a way to eavesdrop on a conversation through an air-hole, whereas later on you will need to devise a way to get a dog off its flea ridden mat.

There are no spoken dialogs. All of the conversations are all presented in text in dialog boxes. Sound effects are scarce but effective when present, including a cheeky zipper fly sound Max makes with his pants whenever he completes an important action. About a dozen short musical scores play in rotation as Max explores the different parts of the apartment building. These scores are lively and upbeat, perfectly complementing the juvenile (in a good way) tone of the game.

Considering that this budget release is born from the ambitious undertaking of a singular developer, the game deserves a look at a minimum by all adventure game fans seeking an indie diversion. The game is very short and can be easily completed within just a couple of hours. As the game's subtitle implies, the developer has plans for other episodes to continue on with the story as a series. It seems that there are adventures aplenty left for young Max.

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