Amber: Journeys Beyond
|Amber: Journeys Beyond|
|Developer(s)||Hue Forest Entertainment|
Hue Forest Entertainment (1996) (mail order)|
Cendant Software (199?)
Graphic Simulations Corporation (199?)
|Designer(s)||Frank Wimmer, Susan Wimmer|
|Platform(s)||Mac OS System 7, Windows 95|
Amber: Journeys Beyond is an American computer game released in 1996 for Apple Macintosh computers and Windows 95. It is the only game produced by Hue Forest Entertainment, founded by Frank and Susan Wimmer.
Note: Minor details such as puzzles and their solutions have been omitted for simplicity. As the game is nonlinear, events described below may not necessarily occur in that order when playing the game.
You (the protagonist) have come home from work and check your e-mail. It seems that your friend Dr. Roxanne ("Roxy") Westbridge has recently purchased a reportedly haunted house in North Carolina and is performing paranormal tests there. A friend of yours asks you to check on her, as he is worried that she may be too hasty with the still undeveloped ghost hunting equipment. You drive to the house by means of the highway and then a long dirt road leading to it. Suddenly, in the middle of the road an apparition appears as you are turning left to follow the road. You swerve to the right to avoid the ghostly shape and end up buried in the nearby pond. As you emerge soaking wet from the pond, you explore the garage and house. Roxy appears to be unconscious in the garage with a device on her head and the house has no electricity.
After restoring electricity, and exploring inside the house, you discover that Roxy has several types of ghost hunting equipment: surveillance cameras, the BAR (Bulbic Activity Reader), a doorknob sensor which detects spiritual residue in doorknobs, the PeeK, a pocket television-like device which allows the user to listen to the sounds in the doorknobs, and works with the BAR and cameras to observe spiritual activity from a safe distance, and the AMBER (Astral Mobility By Electromagnetic Resonance) headset device itself, which allows the user to actually enter the minds of ghosts to discover what they are thinking and seeing and to remind them of who they are so they may ascend. The last device is still in the testing phase and its use is considered to be very risky. Apparently Roxy's spirit is lost "somewhere" while she was attempting to use the AMBER device.
Through the combined use of the devices, you discover that there are three resident ghosts in and around the house.
Brice, a gardener who believed that UFOs would come to take him away. He fell in love (or obsession) with his employer's daughter, Mandy, who disliked him and didn't share his interests. When he believed that they were finally coming, he banged on the backdoor to the house and called Mandy, who answered. Mandy did not respond positively, so he killed her and placed the body in a hidden compartment under the gazebo he had built. Subsequently, he killed her parents and committed suicide after he realized what he had done. After you assist his spirit, he is received by the aliens; however, rather than being sent to paradise, he is sent to another unpleasant place.
Another ghost is Margaret, whose husband is overseas fighting in World War II. She expects him to come home the next day and has baked a "Welcome Home" cake for him. However, she receives a message saying that her husband has been killed. She commits suicide. After you assist her spirit, she joins her husband's spirit in the afterlife.
The final ghost is Edwin, a child who was sledding when he ended up on the frozen pond. The ice broke and he was trapped beneath it and drowned. You reunite him with his teddy bear and clown doll in Edwin's underwater castle.
After the three ghosts are freed, you help Roxy by doing some programming with her computer, which tells you to place the AMBER on her head then leave the area quickly. After doing so, you stand a safe distance from the garage which apparently explodes. Roxy emerges from the flames seemingly unscathed and unaware of all the events that took place. She thanks you and explains the algorithms for AMBER probably need tweaking (hence the explosion); she asks if everything is all right in the house. Roxy excitedly explains the results of these tests of AMBER should be sent to the lab very soon. In the final moments of the game, Roxy asks, "Where'd you park your car?"
- Emily Andress as Margaret
- Susan Wimmer as the voice of Margaret
- Lauren Andress as the voice of Edwin
- Matt Andress as Edwin
- Michael Brocki as Brice
- Sandi Fix as Roxy
- Greg Purdy as the voice of Chippy
- Tommi Swinson as Mandy
- Brendan Underhill as Richard
The game was not a commercial success as it was an independent project and was not released by a major company. However, around the time of release, the game received moderate to favorable reviews from critics such as GameSpot. In April 1997, when the game was reviewed in Computer Gaming World, it received four stars. Newsweek also gave a positive review in their November 1996 issue. Chuck Klimushyn of Computer Games Strategy Plus called Amber "an unassuming masterpiece".
The editors of Macworld gave Amber their 1996 "Best Adventure Game" award. Steven Levy of the magazine wrote, "Strip Myst of its fantasy-genre trappings and replace them with a dollop of Stephen King, and you can begin to understand what it feels like to play Amber: Journeys Beyond—a gorgeous, absorbing supernatural adventure." He concluded, "At its best, Amber fulfills some of the almost-never-realized ambitions of interactive fiction."
In later years, the game received praise from several online reviewers and currently has a cult following. The game was not without its criticism however, many of the critics and players felt that the game was not long enough and that the conclusion was anticlimactic.
- Software Publishers Association: Excellence In Software Codie Award Finalist—Best Debut of the Year
- Macworld, January 1997: Game Hall of Fame—Best Adventure Game of the Year
- HIDE (Human Interface Design Excellence) Award Finalist—Third Place, for Most Elegant Interface
- Computer Games Strategy Plus February 1997: Stamp of Approval
- MACup Magazine, February 1997: Game of the Month
- Coffey, Robert (June 1, 1997). "Amber: Journeys Beyond". Computer Gaming World. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000.
- Williamson, Colin (May 1997). "Amber". PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on November 17, 1999.
- Klimushyn, Chuck (October 5, 1996). "Amber: Journeys Beyond". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on February 6, 2005.
- Levy, Steven (January 1997). "1997 Macintosh Game Hall of Fame". Macworld. Archived from the original on January 8, 2003.
- Shepherd, Carrie (April 1997). "AMBER: Journeys Beyond". MacHome Journal. Archived from the original on March 9, 2000.
- Merrill, Philip (November 1996). "AMBER: Journeys Beyond". MacAddict (3): 76.
- Mooney, Shane. "Amber: Journeys Beyond". PC Games. Archived from the original on July 11, 1997.
- "99 Companies Compete for Software Industry's Highest Honors" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: Software Publishers Association. December 4, 1996. Archived from the original on February 10, 1998.
- "SPA Hands Out Coveted Codie Awards To Best Software Products of the Year" (Press release). San Diego: Software Publishers Association. March 3, 1997. Archived from the original on February 10, 1998.
-  AMBER: Journeys Beyond at GameSpot, the 1996 review is included.
- AG Staff (December 30, 2011). "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012.
- AMBER: Journeys Beyond instruction booklet
- AMBER: Journeys Beyond
- AMBER: Journeys Beyond at MobyGames
- Hue Forest Entertainment archived website at Internet Archive