From that moment on Pantoła, became a specialist in adventure games, a bold pioneer in this field. His next productions, The Curse (Klątwa) and Lords of the Darkness (Władcy Ciemności) were created along the same lines as A.D. 2044, becoming part of the spectacular achievements of Polish programmers creating games for old Atari computers which tried to keep up with the much more powerful machines conquering the Polish market at that time.
A remake of A.D. 2044 created in 1996 for PCs was a breakthrough for Pantoła. It was realised on an unprecedented scale – the game was published on two CDs and is filled with remarkable 3D computer animations. Nowadays the graphics of A.D. 2044 seem rather old-school and could be displayed at a video game museum, but the interface inspired by secession ornamentation is still impressive. Perhaps it was this project that could serve as foreshadowing the further development of Pantoła’s style – his next games were striking chiefly due to their extraordinary graphics.
The next game by Pantoła was created in Rzeszów by a team that was later transformed into the Detalion studio (Maciej Miąsik was one of its cofounders). Reah: Face the Unknown (Reah: Zmierz się z Nieznanym) is, in comparison to A.D. 2044, a much more mature attempt at entering the world of multimedia computer games. It thrills with its graphics – the amazing architecture of the exotic reality that players visit is memorable and can compete with the best adventure games. Reviewers praised the visuals, but at the same time were critical about the excessive focus put on complicated riddles as well as a rather unconvincing plot. The artists invited Australian writer Terry Dowling to work on their next game Schizm: Mysterious Journey (Schizm: Prawdziwe Wyzwanie, 2001). This time the critics were more satisfied (reviews were better than of Reah, but still not the best). However, their approach to the game depended on how much they liked convoluted puzzles. Nevertheless, they all agreed on one thing: the bizarre world of Schizm, with architecture clearly inspired by the work of Antonio Gaudi, was thrilling. The game was mentioned in the same breath as the best games of its kind. The two next games by Detalion – Schizm II: Chameleon, (Schizm II: Kameleon, 2003) and Sentinel: Descendants in Time (Sentinel: Strażnik Grobowca, 2004) – explore the same formula: spectacular and tasteful graphics (this time these were not any pre-made animations, but completely interactive 3D graphics, which was innovative at that time), very good music and scripts by Downling, and exceptionally difficult logic riddles, often conceived by Pantoła himself.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the market for adventure games based on complicated puzzles diminished. Thus, the revenues from the game sales didn't meet the financial expectations of their creators. After years Pantoła reported in an interview published on Onet portal: ‘When it comes to the finances, Detalion S.C. was a complete failure. So you can say, in the words of Greek Zorba, that it was a beautiful catastrophe.’ In 2005 Detalion has suspended its business activities (an editor of the industry website AdventureGamers.com said goodbye to ‘a company of great reputation built on high quality games’ with regret). The remnants of the company were acquired by City Interactive.
Even though Roland Patoła hasn’t created any games since the closure of the company, he worked as a graphic designer on several projects, such as Bulletstorm by People Can Fly and Enemy Front by City Interactive. He has also started to design furniture.
Originally written in Polish, May 2017. Translated by Natalia Cichowska, May 2017.