Posted 17 November 2001 to rec.games.int-fiction
I must say that I'm really extremely impressed at how much some of you reviewers wrote (*cough*Paul*cough*). This is my first time rating an IF competition, and I was far too lazy to come up with so much. What you'll find below are merely some stream-of-consciousnessness meanderings of a most random nature...
I liked the pictures but the idea of walking around and trying to find a way out just didn't appeal to me that much.
Fine Tuned (7):
I really enjoyed the dialogue, style, and difficulty level (pretty easy -- perfect for me) of the game. It also anticipated commands well. However, was quite buggy and gave me all kinds of software errors, crashes, and incorrect descriptions (e.g. Sweet would sing in Prof's house in Chapter 2, and Prof would compliment her, even after he had gone upstairs). I enjoyed most aspects of the game... till it became unwinnable due to bugginess in Chapter 5.
2nd-person past-tense view unusual. Prose labored and sometimes ungrammatical. Couldn't solve first puzzle. No hints, no walkthrough. Can't exit south without Katie -- but how to get her? I don't know. The theme didn't appeal much to me, and moreover, I didn't know what to do at the very first point.
Journey from an Islet (6):
Looks like another escape IF. Prose can be evocative but is too wordy and difficult to read. Cute drawings. Easy puzzles, but short and fun.
Interesting set of vignettes. My level of difficulty. Good writing. Set of independent episodes shuttled through in different characters. Not much of a link between these stories, though, except that they're all part of your imagination. Others have complained that this game is pretty linear, which is true. But I think it is still very evocative, and that is its saving grace.
Comfortable environment and writing; makes me feel at ease, like with a storyteller. Bug: crow kept turning into tree. Game is too small, and ending is far too abrupt and unsatisfactory. A little buggy -- I had some problems with the crow which kept turning into wood.
Beetmonger's Journal (6):
Really enjoyed the descriptive walkthru, which made it more like a novel. It's the most entertaining walkthrough I've ever seen. Clever puzzles. Nested stories are an interesting idea.
Prized Possession (6):
Time limits are too strict and what to do is not at all intuitive. Different conversational system than normal -- should have been warned. Interesting story but somewhat abrupt plotting and description.
an apple from nowhere (7):
Fascinating stream-of-consciousness stuff; poetic; resonant. Of course meandering plot, strange puzzles, weird game and story--and more than a little vulgar too. Also, ending's quite unsatisfying.
Earth and Sky (7):
I really like the superhero-power concept. Exciting, fun writing. Too short, a little too easy even for me.
Fabulous game! I love the drawings, and the music, and the characterful atmosphere I love all the episodes! Great stuff. Very fun writing and pizazz. Graphics and sound come together to create a really fun and stylish extravaganza.
SPOILER FOR THIS GAME INCLUDED
Neat idea! I like the classes and the see-the-story-from-5-perspectives approach. A little buggy in descriptions, though. For the enchanter: "postra" is never mentioned in the game! I don't see how you're supposed to guess it. Also, Sometimes the backroom in the pawn shop is mentioned, sometimes it isn't.
All Roads (8):
SPOILER FOR THIS GAME INCLUDED
Excellent anticipation of commands and strategies I like the way that it goes from one strategy to another when the player & character get frustrated (i.e. if you can't figure out the birds, the game says the heck with it -- just charge the guard). Somewhat tortured and difficult-to-understand description "in the pit of the alley's elbow/" Twisting turning plot. Time goes this way and that...scenes go this way and that. After much thought I think I figured out a little but the basic use of the power eludes me. Still a fascinating experiment, well-written and well-programmed. Reminded me a little bit of Memento. Even after 2 games I couldn't fully figure the game out...
A Night Guest (6):
The poetry is fun :-) But the game doesn't allow you to do very much! Doesn't recognize "devil" for "demon."
I don't really like the web-based interface, although I admit it's neat. No walkthrough or hints... no description or characterization. Pretty thin game.
The Evil Sorcerer (5):
Standard sort of hunt-and-gather thing it seems Writing is too flabby. Not enough of a sense of drama and excitement. A little boring, sorry.
Bane of the Builders (5):
Description a bit weak. Story just not compelling enough to keep my attention beyond about 10 mins.
Stick it to the Man (5):
Good intro note talking about conversation options, violence, profanity, etc. The politics are certainly rather blatantly leftist and controversial! I like the characterization and dialogue. Nice. I like how the description of the room changes to show the crowd's different moods Crashed and crashed and crashed... I gave up.
Best of 3 (7):
Little choppy between your changing the topic & the game's plot-related topics. Choppiness between dialogue pieces: e.g. you speak, then speak again as if you hadn't said what you just did :-) (in other words, often times dialogue choices repeat). Beautiful writing... it's a piece of literature, one which I can relate to. Abrupt ending...ugh. Thinking of random topics is a pretty annoying way of going about things. Hard to go back to previous conversational options.
As a noble in a place where death comes quickly, this reminded me initally of Varicella This game is way too hard, though. To boot, there's no walkthrough. And in the first five minutes I'm encountering all sorts of programming errors. Later, thanks to a hint posted for someone else on r.g.i.f., I realized what you have to do to win. But I think the solution is pretty ridiculous.
The Last Just Cause (5):
Prose a little crude, but the DOS window and the style is charming, very quaint. Unfortunately I got bored with this hack-and-slash game in about 5 mins. Nice ideas, and good effort, but the implementation is very crude and untested.
The Cave of Morpheus (5):
Love the sense of humor unveiled even in the first moments of the game! Some grammar errors. Not all that interactive. No walkthrough, very limited conversational options. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to proceed past the 2nd dream. Oh well.
Nice, simple map. I like it. I like the changing room description when the sliding glass door is open. Poetry choices are nice, too. Sense of humor... much appreciated A couple of typos... "kelly freas" must be asked about as "kellyfreas." Interesting concepts... but the game was really too mundane. Could have done much more with the potential conceptual material.
No walkthrough. Interesting -- I would have liked to continue but I didn't know what to do and floundered. Then I gave up. The scattered papers are not nearly helpful enough.
Don't like Quest: "x me" instead of "look" doesn't work. Spelling errors, grammar mistakes e.g. "Northen from here is a small tree while southern is a small waterfall." Ugh... programming is not so good. Vines disappear after using them, all kinds of problems. You can't look at stuff in your possession. Got bored and quit at this point.
The Test (4):
Writing is juvenile and not particularly grammatical. Spelling suffers too. I find it quite annoying when every keystroke scrolls text & I'm not informed of that in any way I couldn't figure out conveyor belt, got a hint (like the hint system!), and it referred to fluff. But I examined my clothes, and I saw no fluff in the description. Then I tried dropping the fluff, putting it on the conveyor, putting it on the conveyor belt, "taking" it -- nothing worked. Good-bye game.
No Time to Squeal (7):
I like the poem that introduces the game in comp01.z5. Sentence structure, please: "Four months ago, he celebrated winning an award at the Nokia Sugar Bowl by crashing an off-campus party and proceeded to get roaring drunk with his friends." Long, flowing plot descriptions -- choices involving judging characters & plot--fabulous! FASCINATING -- that the game advances after you restart!!! I would not have guessed it, though, except for the walkthrough. This is an exceptionally risky choice on the author's part, and I would have appreciated a hint.
Game goes down easy -- not terribly puzzle-oriented, but suspense is kept up remarkably well. Didn't even think to look at the in-game times for all of these scenes till the little girl. Good attention to detail -- other characters have reactions to doctor's burping from drinking pibb, for instance.
However, what's with the unsatisfying ending? How did parts I and II connect? It was an interesting game, but where are the explanations? It seemed too avant-garde and experimental for my taste.
Volcano Isle (5):
Ugh... not much background story. This sort of traditional hunt-around the island is just too boring for me, sorry.
Compelling if unoriginal dystopia. Writing could be more polished. There are no signs anywhere indicating directions, so I have to try this direction, undo, try that direction, undo, etc. Poor implementation; can't unlock doors that say they are locked... very large and confusing map. When following walkthrough got fatal buffer overflow. Enough.
Shattered Memory (6):
Again, grammar errors aplenty. Please proofread. Interesting conversational structure: "say," "speak to," and "ask" are all used. This is not to mention that complete sentences are also (theoretically) accepted. Interesting premise--I like the "recall" command. But goddamnit! WHY NO WALKTHROUGH? There was no contact info for the author either. I couldn't get out of the first room.. but I asked for help on the NG because I actually wanted to play this game. I liked the mystery aspects... game requires a lot of thought and common sense, though, which may or may not be a good thing. After I got past the first few puzzles, I think the game was too short and too thin. Much more could have been done...
Mystery Manor (5):
I don't particularly like the cheesy title Also I don't like the timed sequences at the beginning... these gave me an error when I tried to press a button to move on. I'm getting the feeling that I don't much enjoy the feeling of the ADRIFT interpreter. For example, when you look at "aslkdlaksjd" it says: "nothing special" rather than nothing of that sort exists. I do like the eery music, and the color for the fonts is good too. It's evident that there's been some work put into this game, but the story was just not compelling enough for me to do the hunt-around-the-house thing.
Invasion of the Angora Fetish (5):
I didn't like the music.
- Put spaces in between descriptions!
- Allow the look command to let you see the room description again.
- Bold certain things to give the text structure.
Too many people moving all at the same time--it's driving me insane--and there's no pause command! There's potential here but as it is it's unfinished.
DOS Window is slow. The game doesn't recognize a lot of IF abbreviations like "x" for examine. It seemed like another look-around hunt-for-item type game so I abandoned it quickly.
Gostak (rated it 9 but would have rated 8 if allowed more choice
SPOILER FOR THIS GAME MENTIONED
Neat language puzzle (reminiscent of a clockwork orange) As time goes by, I like this game more and more. Well, I'm hardly anywhere but I have to score it. Too hard to find certain words, though:
Lessee.. I got through the raskable and the poltive myself. And I even figured out roggler, and I knew you had to open it - but how were you supposed to know skobe for open? Leil for close, yes. Skobe for open, no. Jenth was a bit fairer. I figured out pilter had something to do with it, but that was it... Cobbic, no way: I figured out everything except how to get rid of the calbice--how were you supposed to know the answer was boltep?!
All in all a very fun game... but there just weren't enough clues within the game to help players along.
Silicon Castles (5):
NO easy way of winning the game of chess. Plus the game is buggy; I couldn't queen a pawn -- it kept saying "ambiguous" and even if I specified things exactly--e.g. move B7 to B8, it wouldn't let me do it, claiming an invalid move. Oh well.
Excellent intro. Riveting
What kind of a story does this game have?! A club where people kill themselves... a random molestation plot thrown in?! Eery stuff, but you're leaving me in the dark here!
The Chasing (5):
Sorry, lost patience quickly--another hunt-and-chase thing. Pleasant atmosphere though.
Film at Eleven (7):
Lots of humor, fun stuff! Excellent walkthrough, very entertaining. The puzzles didn't flow quite as smoothly as they should have though, and people's reactions could have been better scripted...
Burning bush episode is hilarious! NPCs are somewhat unresponsive -- trader doesn't know about his wares; guards don't know about prisoners Clever stuff -- as messiah, if you type "kill disciples" - you get "you decide to turn the other cheek instead." Last few puzzles were quite difficult though -- how should the player know about gunpowder? And for instance you couldn't "throw salt shaker" at governor... that wouldn't work...
Schroedinger's Cat (5):
I can tell it's a neat idea, but there are basically no hints, there's no walkthrough--this game's too tough.
The Triune (7):
A very interesting and well-written game, there's no doubt about that. Powerful themes + conclusions, too. I particularly liked the beginning and the end. I like being able to make choices and come to different endings, different conclusions. That's excellent. But I don't grasp the symboblism of the Native Americans, the gypsies, Lily, and the fruits of life/knowledge, the rabbit, etc. This seems all tossed in there and I can't quite figure out their purpose or how they fit.
Vicious Cycles (6):
Another interesting concept, but going and redoing the scene again and again till you got it "right" got very painful very quickly. A straight walkthrough would have been useful. Unsatisfying ending, highly biased political viewpoint. I felt shoved around.
The Coast House (7):
Nice eery atmosphere. Fun little story and game.
Stiffy Makane (7):
Tried to play the previous game (v2 of Incredible Erotic...Stiffy Makane) and gave up quickly. Graphics can be blurry. Entertaining... if you like this sort of vulgar, erotic parody.
You are Here (6):
Neat little MUD world, but no walkthrough. Couldn't figure out how to get blood from stone.
You can't tell if there's more text or not sometimes, so occasionally you hit a key to type something, and instead text scrolls! A related complaint: the return key doesn't work as a key for more!
Sounds are neat but sometimes buggy--the faucet sounds keeps going after you turn the faucet off in the bathroom. Plenty of spelling mistakes... unfortunate. I really like the part where you can get the hopper open when you kick it. Great! I really didn't get the planet/key puzzle. How does Mercury (Silver - 1) add up to 5? How does Earth (3 - blue) make 0?
Unfortunately this is a buggy game... save/restore functionality didn't work that well. I just gave up at one point
Moments Out of Time (7):
Where's the graphic file this game refers to? It's not in the comp directory. I really hate the color scheme without the graphic file. I keep seeing what I think is supposed to be a program bar: it has GAME VERBS COMPASS INVENTORY as options. But of course the bar doesnt' work without the graphics; it just keeps popping up and obscuring descriptions.
However, I really do like the theme of time-diving. I enjoy the the special tools and items that give more insight into the game. I like the depth of the game, and the detective, mystery-type atmosphere I didn't complete it in two hours, but I still think it's quite a good game.
The Cruise (6):
When I am typing "west" and there's a wall in my way, the game doesn't say anything. It just acts as if I hadn't typed anything! I was hoping this game was a sort of parody.. I was relieved to find out that it was. The comedian is great! What a store of awful jokes! It seems every command around an item ends with "x" hrm. I think it's a bug.
You Were Doomed from the Start (4):
Non-standard vocab -- about to quit the game when it didn't accept "get key" "pick key up" "pick up key" "take key." Fortunately, the "help" keyword works. I found out that the right verb is "pickup." Unfortunately, the story didn't hold my attention for more than a few minutes, so I quit the game early.
Game has not coded for a lot of stuff! Can't examine "painting" or "easel" in the Artist's room. Can't examine "thesaurus" in the Author's room. I like the Author's personality, at least, and the piece of writing on the crumpled ball of paper is truly awful! The basic puzzle of this game, as I discovered through this walkthru, is really not my type. I generally prefer strong stories and this didn't have it.
To Otherwhere and Back (5):
Was a neat little journey until the string instrument, where the walkthrough ceased to work. Note that I DIDN'T follow the walkthrough and drink from the dreamfish pool.... maybe that was the problem? "Pick string" produced an uninspired twang, and then I couldn't go anywhere.
This article copyright © 2001, Akilesh Ayyar