Ratings & Reviews of the 2003 Interactive Fiction Competition

The Ratings

Game Technical Puzzles Story Overall
Game T P S
Risorgimento Represso 10 10 9 10
Slouching Towards Bedlam 10 8 10 9
Baluthar 9 7 9 8
The Adventures of the President of the United States 9 6 10 8
The Atomic Heart 7 7 10 8
Scavenger 8 7 9 8
The Erudition Chamber 10 7 7 8
CaffeiNation 7 9 8 8
A Paper Moon 8 7 8 8
Episode in the Life of an Artist 6 8 9 8
The Recruit 9 8 5 7
Gourmet 4 9 9 7
Cerulean Stowaway 6 7 9 7
Sardoria 7 5 7 6
Temple of Kaos 8 7 4 6
Adoo’s Stinky Story 4 7 5 5
Internal Documents 4 5 7 5
Delvyn 4 5 7 5
Shadows On The Mirror 6 3 5 5
Domicile 3 5 4 4
Hercules First Labor 4 2 5 4
No Room 4 5 1 3
Bio 2 2 3 2
Amnesia 1 2 2 2
Curse of Manorland 2 2 1 2
The Fat Lardo And The Rubber Ducky 2 1 1 1

Adoo’s Stinky Story

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 7
Story: 5

Lots of background objects that seem to do nothing. The author makes a point (in the README) that this is intentional.

Attic door not in description! Found only by the parser asking for clarification. (The location where it is found makes sense, but it should be more explicit.)

There’s a time-of-day puzzle akin to the annoying matchbook puzzle in Sorcerer.

Eh. A little too puerile for my tastes, but a good college try.


Hercules First Labor

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 2
Story: 5

I remember enjoying Scott Adams’ adventure games on my friend’s TRS-80 back in the day, and I also remember how said games suddenly felt clunky after I played Zork. So I start with a negative bias.

Well, that was fast. 20 minutes from beginning to end, and 15 of those I think were spent waiting for IE to run the JavaScript.

I don’t understand why the player starts in a hotel room and dreams the major part of the game. Why not just be in the major part the whole time?

One of the problems of the interface is that if nothing happened, I couldn’t tell that there was no effect. Often I would type in a command twice only to realize that the turn counter had indeed progressed two steps.

While the author should be commended for following the exact geography from the myth, it really bloated the game with lots of uninteresting rooms and useless artifacts. Graham Nelson spoke of the risk when slavishly following a linear story in a game: here we have a prime example of said danger.

Also missing were the clever adjectives (e.g., “evil-smelling mud”) to give the objects more than a two-dimensional presence. If the author was indeed paying homage to Scott Adams, he severely missed the mark there.


Baluthar

Technical: 9
Puzzles: 7
Story: 9

The mood of the game is set well. The descriptions are rich without being magniloquent.

A small bug. Saying the ghost’s name in quotes does not work; answering unquoted does. The parser should warn that quotes are unnecessary.

The ending was anticlimactic, but somewhat appropriate for its “slice of fantasy life” plot.


A Paper Moon

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 7
Story: 8

Another slice-of-lowlife adventure…

Use toilet had a cute response, but sit on toilet was not considered an equivalent action.

OK, maybe not. Game suddenly twisted into a sci-fi adventure. Plus, the writing is getting a little better. The conversation with Johann is a bit stilted, however.

Outside Cave location lacked any indication of exit directions.

Fix club did not have a meaningful response. Granted, it’s a red herring, but still…

First unwinnable state, according to the walkthrough. The hints were not helpful.

The problem is trying to figure out what I can make from the paper. There’s no good hint.

Points off for not being able to make Wolfie (the paper spider guardian of computers).

Too many ways to get the game into an unwinnable state, which is frustrating. A lot of the dead-ends could be avoided with a little change in logic. Granted, real life doesn’t offer second chances, but this isn’t real life. Personally, I prefer bang-you’re-dead responses: at least you know you’ve done something wrong…

Cute response for perloin cheat.

Beauty without truth… made me laugh.

The pillar solution is just too obscure.

The ending was perfect. Overall, a good concept, with only a few rough spots in gameplay that required me to hit the walkthrough to meet the two-hour deadline. Some unwinnable states need to be removed, and some better hints placed to avoid those that cannot.


Sardoria

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 5
Story: 7

Good (if a bit difficult) puzzle in prologue. Could use more in-game hints, though.

Excellent descriptions. Perhaps a little overuse of You are… and This is… but forgivable.

Drink soup gives a meaningless response; eat soup does, however. Look in saucepan gives a meaningless response.

Getting the ham is annoyingly vexing. While the justification for not carrying a knife around the castle is reasonable, it should not preclude using the knife in the kitchen!

Note also that the string cannot be cut until the guard is in the kitchen. The boilerplate response suggests that the string cannot be cut. Something to indicate that this is the wrong time rather than the wrong action would be more helpful.

Hm. No scoring system, no feedback on how much progress has been made. Annoying…

Parchment/tile puzzle: the correspondence stretches it a bit, e.g., arrow corresponding to wind; I thought eagle would be a better choice and kept pressing that. Had to resort to the walkthru.

First resurrection, nice considering the number of bang-you’re-dead puzzles and the lack of undo…

Second resurrection; if there is a logic to the corridor/door puzzle, it escapes me.

In general, the game is far too linear; this leads to frustration (and cheating).


The Atomic Heart

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 7
Story: 10

The help command returns errant information in the military base.

It is not apparent that taking the cable automatically attaches it. Oh wait, it doesn’t—running the battery program does not require the cable to be attached.

Go in alcove not recognized.

Get bottles leads to an indistinguishable object error.

In the factory, climb walkdozer should return a more meaningful response.

Controlling the walkdozer and going through the droid barrier returns an ending that doesn’t make sense.

The robot keeps “dying” if it gets caught in the battle at the airbase (northeast of entrance).

The chain lift and the ladder are not objects in their own right, which causes confusion.

Manipulating the cables are a pain. Attach cable would often detach the cable instead. After doing certain tedious operations the first time, the game should assume that the player can repeat the operation, possibily with a multi-turn penalty (although this game has had few time constraints to this point).

When connected to the walkdozer, it is difficult to discern what are the robot’s possessions and what are the walkdozer’s possessions.

A bit of a gory game, but a nice ending. Having the afterlife note explaining how the robot’s actions were interpreted by the survivors helped a lot. Reminded me a bit of A Mind Forever Voyaging in that respect.

(Something I noticed after completing the scoring—my map has one room on it: the starting room. That suggests a good geographical design.)


The Recruit

Technical: 9
Puzzles: 8
Story: 5

Orange switch puzzle—you leave the room in a slightly different state, since both switches have been toggled. A minor point, but considering the meticulousness of everything else it stands out.

The description of the purple room is appropriately grandiloquent.

Some of the descriptions in the purple room reference cords that are nonexistent.

The purple room frustrated me, but that’s what it was designed to do. Pressed for time, I cheated with the walkthrough. It was a “d’oh!” moment for sure.

It’s amusing that the author had one room dedicated to “puzzleless” games (my own bugaboo). This game is almost diametrically opposite—a set of puzzles held together by the most tenuous of plots. Like Nord and Bert and Ad Verbum, it just barely gets away with it.


Risorgimento Represso

Technical: 10
Puzzles: 10
Story: 9

Ho hum. Another college game. I’ve had classes like these…

Ah, the ol’ motif-switcheroo. Is that the theme of this year’s competition?

The chemistry’s accurate.

Heh. The articles in the trade magazine are amusing.

The Laboratory: That’s just cruel. How many people know the periodic table? I hope there’s a key somewhere in the game.

Good, the game is non-linear, even though it’s divided into stages.

Whew. This is a full-length game. As per the competition judging results, I had to stop after two hours of play. But I’m saving this one for later…


No Room

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 5
Story: 1

Oh great, yet another “experimental” approach… According to the author he created the darkness by leaving the player object in the parser. Putting the player “in the parser” by programming accident is bad enough; doing it on purpose is worse.

What is this? Chemistry 101? I released The Best Man three years early it seems.

Well, that was fast. A puzzle in search of a story. Not a bad distraction, but needs a frame.

I have a deep feeling this may be one of those “the joke is on the player” games…


Scavenger

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 7
Story: 9

Hm. Came with a copy of (and licensed under) the GPL. Is this compatible with the competition rules? Granted, no compilations are being republished, but still…

Ah, a post-apocalyptic bodies-everywhere sci-fi story. One of the few IF genres that hasn’t been done to death (if you pardon the cliché).

Good setting of mood.

I cannot return to the city to make a second purchase. That is poor design. Some warning should have been given.

OK, so I have to make all purchases before I leave. One is proscribed… but what else? Walkthrough time… ah, it does not matter. Alternate solutions possible. Repeat my mantra: “Alternates are Good.”

Three doors available… but directions are not stated. (Actually there are four doors at that intersection; one is non-functional.)

Pull desk doesn’t work, but move desk does. Grrr…

Most of this game seems to be “find the cleverly concealed object by searching everything” which is the most pedestrian of puzzles. On the other hand, once found, the objects have logical uses.

First reuse of an object. Wonder if there’s an alternate way into the commissary?

Heh. As an ex-DoD contractor, I can easily say that the author has seriously underestimated security at a research lab.

Not a bad game, considering how much I dislike this genre. Some of the puzzles could use more beefing up. I managed to finish without full points, however; will have to revisit some day to see if I can do better.


Internal Documents

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 5
Story: 7

Prosaic descriptions.

Bartender uses generic library responses to NPC interactions (ask, tell, &c.).

Endless loop on “remembering document and try to open briefcase” scenario. Annoying. I’m guessing the bar is one big red herring…

Ah, no matter where I am, something prevents me from opening my briefcase in a humorous (if contrived) way. Funny.

Some of the doors in the basement lead to nowhere or are mislabeled in direction.

The arm in the water illusion should be removed from play once discovered or given better behavior.

Grr. I dislike deux ex machina commands like “frob every widget in the universe” since they go against the “no universal verbs” and “no universal scopes” commandments (in this case, however, I suspect the scope was hardwired into that command). On the other hand, tedious puzzles are just that—tedious. The author gave enough clues, but my hardwired brain just refused to accept the possibility of such a command, so I did things the hard way until I looked at the walkthrough.

The ending of the game was pretty good, though I wish I could have had the dogs attack their owner…


The Erudition Chamber

Technical: 10
Puzzles: 7
Story: 7

OK, what started out as a fantasy game now looks like an alternate history game, with the Battle of Barnet being the divergence point.

Nope, it’s a pure fantasy game. The divergent history was just a footnote.

A game based fully on alternative solutions—an interesting approach! The prologue problem itself is clever in that it has four obvious solutions, and all of them work. Whether this is consistent for the rest of the game remains to be seen.

Not bad. The availability if alternate solutions made me experiment more than I normally would have (usually, once a problem is solved I move on); but because of the alternates the puzzles seemed “easy.” I managed to get through the entire game as an “artisan” on my second try.

A nice ending if you try to do a different approach for each problem.


Bio

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 2
Story: 3

Not a good start. The dresser containing the mask needed to survive the first few turns is not called a dresser, even though the descriptions refer to it as such; nor can it be called a wardrobe or cabinet. It must be called an armoire (according to the walkthrough), despite the game never using that term.

The TV is permanently on.

Logical error: how can I smell something if I’m wearing a gas mask?!?

Spelling errors—your exchanged with you’re numerous times.

I cut myself—can’t bandage myself: parser does not recognize arm, cut, wound, injury, lesion, laceration. So I die.

There’s no logic to the placement of objects in this game.

Some doors exist, others are just illusory. Screw this, time for the walkthrough…

OK, this is a joke, right? Somebody played the original version of Matt Barringer’s Detective and decided to do a homage. The writing seems to be about junior high school level, and the plot is rambling (but at least it has some plot—points for that). Most of the puzzles are irrational and pedestrian (again, points for actually having puzzles).


Amnesia

Technical: 1
Puzzles: 2
Story: 2

OK, the author starts out by intentionally breaking the fourth wall.

The spirit guide (and the parser) does not recognize the word amnesia.

The author claims to be the youngest IF writer, still in high school. If this is the quality of writers high schools are producing right now… but I suspect a ruse. The errors seem planned, I don’t know why. If it is a parody, it’s an annoying sledgehammer-in-the-face parody: far overdone.

OK, now I’m really suspicious. Far too many grammatical errors to be unintentional. And the whole note thing…?

Only 100220 points out of 100. Damn last lousy point…


Slouching Towards Bedlam

Technical: 10
Puzzles: 8
Story: 10

The game uses non-standard prompts for answers when performing meta commands (save, quit, et cetera). I hope there is justification for this, and not just showing off programming skill. (Later: it’s justified because it’s a clue. Meta commands as a way to enhance the plot—very clever!)

Nice use of the Trinity-style of status lines. I’ve always been fond of that style, even if I’ve never used it in my own games. Here it adds a crispness to the environs.

Minor technical point: the desk can be opened, but not closed; the drawer itself can be opened and closed.

…a smile that is not quite strong enough to reach his eyes. Nice visual there.

The TRIAGE box seems to have information for every object in the game. Nice.

Alienist: an archiac term for psychologist. Good research there.

Despite the different environs, a lot of this game reminds me of Snow Crash—the idea that there may be a highly infectious meme out there responsible for intellectual catastrophes of the past. The religious connections, the links to conspiracies, it’s all there.

Rooms are few, but well-designed, making the geography feel open.

Subtle error (inform parser problem?): if set dial to A (or any other letter) is ended with a period followed by another command, it results in a parsing error.

I found three possible endings. Can’t think of any others.


Gourmet

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 9
Story: 9

A long prologue, but it sets the mood. It also gives a lot of detail about the environment; probably not a good thing. The features of the restaurant should be established by exploration, not description.

Primer is a better choice of command than the traditional intro; the latter sounding like a replay of the prologue.

Ah, all hints are online? How unfortunate; I’m without Internet at this moment. Suspending play…

While chasing the lobster, I noticed that some descriptions had extra blank lines. A problem with the daemon code, perhaps?

Actually reading the magazine was a puzzle in itself. I was thinking more along the lines of Deadline: Read first section, et cetera. But it turned out to be Consult magazine about subject.

Whoops! Things in the sink in the kitchen are magically transported to the sink in the bathroom and back again.

Looking at the lobster after it is in the pot gives a blank description. Serving the cooked lobster gives the endgame congratulations followed by a You can’t serve it like that! warning.

A fun little game, but the technical problems were distracting. Some more testing is required before this is considered a release.


The Adventures of the President of the United States

Technical: 9
Puzzles: 6
Story: 10

Finnish author. OK, bracing myself for an anti-Bush rant…

Actually, not too bad. A bit oversimplified, but I can deal with it.

Heh. Canada is to the north and Mexico to the south. Way to compress the map!

It’s much too cold to go to Siberia. Priceless…

Finland is the land of a thousand lakes? I thought that was Michigan… This game is amusing and educational.

You don’t want to go to the Middle East. Some people there might not like you. This is just too funny…

Slightly reminiscent of Small World, but much more amusing. Some more responses to examinations may make it better, but the minimalism is appreciated. There was some sort of poking at the President, but in the context of the game it wasn’t political (or just too subtle to argue). A nice distraction.


Temple of Kaos

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 7
Story: 4

A game all in rhyme? Unfortunately not…

Some rhymes, some not. Unfortunately, no matter how you inflect it, “stone” does not rhyme with “roof.”

Hm. I hear the chest open, but it’s not open.

Ah, the other chest opened. Unfortunately the feedback provided by the game did not make this clear.

There’s no logic to anything done here, so it’s basically guess the sequence of commands: get this, don’t get that, open this, go there, get that. Even after reading the walkthrough it makes no sense.

Granted, that’s the goal of the author. Still, even irrationality has rules. Symbolism should be kept consistent above all else. We shall see if this holds in the second temple…

Well, at least the candle fits its description.

Even following the game’s twisted logic fails me. It seems all the descriptions contain the ceremonies that must be performed to proceed. One, however, contains a bogus step: “to pray” which disrupts a time-sensitive puzzle.

The walls isn’t important. Sigh…

Ah, the endgame explains how to improve your score.

A game like this needs more objects, if nothing else but to provide descriptions of things.

Overall, I’m getting the same feeling when I solve a cryptic crossword: the clues make sense in retrospect, but they have far too many possible interpretations to be satisfying.


Shadows On The Mirror

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 3
Story: 5

Well, I managed to get through that rather quickly. Obviously I missed something along the way. The conclusion I got seemed, well, anticlimactic.

Helps to read the about notice. OK, this is a conversation-driven game.

The topic/ask/tell model doesn’t seem to work well here. There are only a handful of conversation subjects and they lack any sort of depth.

Not a problem with the game per se, but with my interpreter: it renders the hint pages black-on-black. I should probably defer judging this game because I cannot see the hints, except this may be a more ubiquitous error.

To do a story like this, the characters need some sort of dynamic, some change to suggest that the story had a purpose. These characters do not change in any way, nor do we sympathize with their silent suffering. Again, I may have missed something by not being able to use the hints, but there was no suggestion of change anywhere in the game scenario I followed.


Domicile

Technical: 3
Puzzles: 5
Story: 4

Looks like somebody just inherited an unusual house. What an original concept…

Ah, it’s that house. Now the author is in danger of raising expectations.

Looks like the author only attempted a superficial reference to Zork. Probably for the best.

Examine altar: Hm, there’s supposed to be an accompanying image file. Better double-check the archive… nope, nothing. Web site? Well, he’s a Unicorn Jelly fan, but that’s not what I need. Ah, he wrote Castle Amnos… explains a few things, but overall that’s no help. Points off for failing to provide a complete package.

The phone: it seems to be superficial, insubstantial window-dressing. When you pick it up, it immediately connects to housekeeping, yet the state of the connection isn’t obvious. “Housekeeping” is just an æthereal presence in the den, there even before the phone is touched. A better implementation would move the handset to the player and have it automatically dropped (with notification) when the player leaves the room.

I stand corrected, the phone and housekeeping are one and the same object. Giving housekeeping a command (e.g. housekeeping, clean this house) returns the enigmatic response The phone has better things to do.

The bust in the den and the bust from the stone circle appear to be the same, but the former is immobile and only returns boilerplate responses.

Lots of objects appear in the descriptions but do not exist. The nouns should have been added to the room to give more satisfying you do not need to refer responses.

Large game… it’s obvious I won’t finish by the two-hour deadline.

There are two magic circles in The House, but both doors claim to have the angular design. It may be a flaw in the wording of the description, or maybe the serpentine design wasn’t supposed to be seen this early in the game.

The boilerplate responses seem especially inapposite. Presented with a locked door and a key, the command unlock north door with bronze key returns the uninformative That doesn’t seem to be something you can unlock.

A pillow sits in the center of a concrete platform built into the side of a cliff: a dislocated object.

Enough. Time ran out. The plot wanders, without cohesion or purpose; it needs to be tightened, with significant editing. The player has to be drawn in early; there is no “hook” at the beginning of the game to encourage the player to continue.


The Fat Lardo And The Rubber Ducky

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 1
Story: 1

As expected, completely purile…

About the only saving grace of this “game” was the extensive replacement of library routines. That earned it a mediocre technical rating.


Curse of Manorland

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 2
Story: 1

Hm, another game by a “young writer.” Grammar errors in the prologue. As I said before, either America is doomed or we have yet another bogus entry here. I suspect the latter. I just don’t understand the need to pollute the competition with these jejune attempts at humor…

Oh, lovely. AGiliTy (or the game itself) is using Windows encoding. All of the high-bit punctuation is screwed up.

Ah, the joys of a crappy parser… not the game author’s fault, per se, but it comes with the choice of AGT.

You go to sleep every 24 turns? Does that mean it takes a full half-hour to pick up a key? Maybe she’s anorexic…

WTF? I hop in a go-kart and end up in some parallel universe?

I end up in a parallel universe and I’m bored?!? Talk about your dumb blondes…

Commands often are refused because I am tired or freezing.

Eh, enough is enough. Even the solution is difficult to follow because of the lack of feedback and randomized refusal to follow commands.


Episode in the Life of an Artist

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 8
Story: 9

Cute introduction, but the first-person descriptions are a bit distracting.

You cannot kiss Leonard Nimoy. Whether this is a good or bad thing is left as an exercise for the reader. In either case, Leonard Nimoy should eat more salsa.

Clean clothes versus dirty clothes: the bachelor’s quandary, forever immortalized in digital stone.

There is no about, help, hint, or info commands.

Enter shower works, but get in shower does not.

Towel off is not a valid command. (Not a major flaw, but still…)

You cannot carry the frying pan onto the bus. Not really important, and it makes sense, but the game should note that.

Neither pop nor tart was synonymous with pop-tart. (And, technically, as a brand name it’s capitalized; the generic is “toaster pastry.”)

Oh, wow. The Chicken Man. Daniel Pinkwater should sue… oh wait, he said the Chicken Man was based on a real person from Chicago. Still, some of the responses seem quite Pinkwateresque.

The game pokes some fun at the concept of the “internal compass.”

Synonyms are a weak point in this game, especially for compound words.

The Zork references are getting a bit out of hand now…

Alas, the horror of automation…

They took my towel. THEY. TOOK. MY. TOWEL.

Ah yes, the secret shame of hydrogen hydroxide…

Dammit, the author gave the main character a name at the very end. I much prefer the genderless, nameless player character, but if you must give the player a name or gender, best to do it as early as possible.

All this game needs is better synonyms and more verbs.

The outtakes are amusing, but sloooooooow.

This game deserved a higher rating, but the lack of synonyms created too many unintentional “guess the word” puzzles.


CaffeiNation

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 9
Story: 8

Ah, an homage to the chemical that drives modern society…

The computer is off, but the screen displays a spreadsheet. Turn on computer responds that the computer is already on, yet the description says that it is off. Likewise, turn off computer reboots the machine. Confusing.

I collected six crusts from the garbage, yet I could feed the cat an infinite number of crusts.

You cannot refer to the window in the alley at all.

There is no feedback that moving the computer box revealed anything new.

The sun can be seen from inside the sewer. Perhaps the author means metaphorically, but still…

Going to the end of the sewer is a dead end with no obvious exits, not even the one from which you came. Yet there was no warning it was a one-way trip.

You can go north by the window in the alley, but not south (unless you have “removed” Mr. Norom). The same reason should apply for both directions I think.

“Machine” should be a suitable synonym for “coffee maker.” Granted, that was a personal quirk, but it was annoying nevertheless.

The walkthrough reveals multiple solutions for the obstacles plus ways on improving the score. The plethora of alternate paths partially balanced the number of technical problems with the game.


Cerulean Stowaway

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 7
Story: 9

Jeez, talk about an intro. I bitched about the intro to Enlisted as too verbose, but that was short, practically laconic, compared to this.

Well, this is either a comedy or an homage of To Serve Man, or both.

Tentacles? “Furry Traffic Cone”? Forget Twilight Zone, now I’m thinking more along the lines of Lovecraft’s Great Race of Yith.

I keep reading “Cerulean” as the color and not the people. But that is what the author intended.

Tried to jump to the ship using a dozen commands when a simple east sufficed. Still, there should have been some indication which command would suffice.

Open huge. Get in huge inside the landing vehicle results in the error [TADS-1026: wrong number of arguments to user function ""]. Same for the large plastic box.

“Remora”? Ooooh, more foreshadowing?

OK, the hints say that I’m supposed to hide in the huge box, but each time I do I get a TADS error. This may be the fault of the interpreter under MacOS Classic. I am sure that an error this blatant would have been caught in beta testing, so I cannot fault the author. On the other hand, it could be a Heisenburg bug. Will restart and try to do things perfectly…

Nope, even by making no errors I still get that TADS error. Normally, I’d end the game and give it a poor “Technical” rating, but I believe that this is, in fact, an interpreter error. Granted, it is the interpreter distributed with the competition package (HyperTADS, v.1.3.7), but I have some other interpreters around…

Good ol’ MaxTADS had no difficulties with that command, so it does look like an interpreter problem. I still have to dock the author a few technical points, however; a game should be beta tested on all major platforms with the interpreters provided by the competition judges.

First death, but I knew it was coming…

Good Lord, it really is a bad (“bad” as in campy) homage. It was so obvious that I didn’t expect it.

Ew. The kitchen. Game is getting rather gory.

Corpses and bodies should be given better responses if those words are used.

Ladies, please! It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

Grrr. A puzzle that requires an item only available at the beginning of the game. Bad, bad puzzle design!

Time’s up. Pity about the interpreter problem; the game deserved a higher score for everything else, but a showstopper bug is a showstopper bug no matter how good the rest is. The story, too, has problems; it’s difficult to balance horror and humor without coming across as psychotic, especially camp humor and dismemberment horror. The author did a good job there, although some of the more graphic elements probably should be toned down a bit, or the humor lessened. Either/or.

Afterward: Finally finished the game. I do hate Infidel-esque endings, but it was pretty much predestined from the start. Unless there was something I missed…


Delvyn

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 5
Story: 7

Loverly. A quasi-commercial release, third in a series, in which the first two were never submitted to the competition. This runs a number of risks: puzzles that are “obvious” in the context of the prequels become downright maddening to the neophyte, and humorous references become bizarre malaprops. Very few sequels stand effectively on their own: Zork II did; Stationfall didn’t.

Oh, a hypermedia “epic.” I hope you live up to your own egregious hype, folks…

Boilerplate legal notice. I should probably stop right now. I am so biased and I haven’t typed my first non-meta command yet!

Not good. The first room is simply Bedroom. No description, no item lists, nothing. I was only able to find items via a get all command.

Hm. The closet is filled with a haphazard collection of items.

The writing is sub-par: missing commas, overused adjectives, spelling errors, copious directorial descriptions. While not filled with the forced grammatical errors of Amnesia, they do stick out because the authors made an attempt to actually write.

I can eat the fox head. Ew.

I can eat the mildewy fish. Double-ew.

I can take the landing I am standing on. Bad bug there.

The description of the bones does not change after I pick them up.

Bah, looks like I got trapped without the means to escape. Restart…

ELF NEEDS FOOD BADLY. Dies.

No usable help system… Grrr. I can’t go back, I don’t have enough energy to survive. I certainly don’t have the willpower to finish.