Andrew Schultz's TALP reviews: the whole 9 yards/entries (eventually)

Hey everyone. TALP has been fun to judge (and review too I think) the last two years and I want to give it a shot again. This time I want to provide transcripts if possible, to go with my reviews. I’d encourage other people who wonder if they should review to do so. It’s a neat feeling to say “I reviewed all the entries in a competition” and since this one has only 9 entries, it’s a good candidate!

Also, it DOES have tutorial mode as part of the judging system, so all the entries have a vested interest in helping you get through.

This initial post will contain a general index as well as links to reviews after I clean them up and post them to IFDB.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: The Text Adventure (TALP), by Rex Mundane

With an author name like Rex Mundane, and a well-worn situation such as making a sandwich, there are always a few worries. Has it been done before? Is it trying to be too wild and silly? Is it trying to be too “ha ha I wrote this in under 2 days so go easy on me there, pal?” There are all sorts of pitfalls, and so I walked into PJTA thinking, okay, maybe this will be straightforward. Or maybe it will go off on a tangent.

Or worse, it could be the sort of game that picks you apart for performing Every! Single! Step! to make a sandwich. I had this in sixth grade. There was stuff like taking off the lid and so forth and putting the knife in the peanut butter, and the teachers did all they could to show you it wasn’t quite like that, or you missed a step. It was painful. Even though I enjoy proofreading and (on a good day) finding bugs in my own tricky code, this annoyed me terribly.

Thankfully it avoids the long list of instructions approach (yay!) and manages to combine the straightforwardness and tangent well. It’s a good fit for the Text Adventure Literacy Jam, because it combines the two well enough to make me laugh. It’s not a huge game, and it’s not super-ambitious, but I had forgotten I’d set my phone’s alarm an hour before looking at it–actually, for a cool-down timer for another internet game I enjoyed chipping away at. When the alarm went off, I was most of the way through, and my reaction was “silly phone, I don’t need to do that right now.”

So I was engaged. PJTA generally goes off on silly tangents and basic riffs on adventure games, nothing terribly profound, but why should it try to be? It is a text adventure tutorial, and not just the one that tells you in detail how we wrangle parsers around here, then forces you to wrangle with said parser to gain street cred. It tells you more or less what you need to know, and when, except for a couple verbs you need to guess. Then, it gives more than adequate hints, including one with an NPC who yells at you irascibly until you get it. That was an unexpected boost.

So you may guess making a sandwich isn’t all there is to the game. I don’t want to spoil it, not because it has a profound moment you’ll be mad was spoiled, but because the author organized it with enough care that we could be surprised and laugh. It’s bigger than it seems, as you get out of your kitchen, and you have a living quarter, and you go and visit other places. There are many other elements you wouldn’t expect, and maybe they are generic elements for fantasy adventures, but they’re thrown together so that I was definitely amused. It’s nicely divided into two parts. The big part is finding the strawberry jam, which is not in the cupboard, or in the surrounding area.

This is not the first text adventure to get all meta with relatively pleasant and silly jokes, and it won’t be the last. In IFComp, people might be tired of this straightforward approach, or it might need a more detailed payoffs. But one pops up every few years. The last one that comes to mind is Mike Gillis’s This Won’t Make You Happy from IFComp 2020. The same level of meta-humor and story length but definitely very different stories!

It’s pretty clear PJTA is winking at you to join in the joke and see where it goes. There’s nothing profound, but TALJ 2023 would be lesser without it, and given that it was the first game I played, it was very welcoming indeed. And while on the one hand a story with emotional depth will almost certainly beat it for first place, it feels very much at home in TALJ.

transcription_Peanut_Butter_and_Jelly_Sandwich_-_The_Text_Adventure.txt (30.5 KB)


First, notes for leaving a transcript with this. The TEE utility for Windows helped a lot, though I had to EXIT after the game exited.

"Priceless Vase Adventure.lnk" | tee vase-log.txt

Priceless Vase Adventure (TALP), by Robert Szacki

This is a small ten-room game where the object is, well, to find a priceless vase inside a hotel. There’s no huge storyline here, beyond that you are named Anthony Smith and are in need of money. You have a coin to start.

The puzzles to get through are, for the most part, trading. The trading doesn’t make ultra-rigorous sense if you put your critic hat on (I still maintain that most people would rather eat a sandwich before playing sports than soup,) but if something is listed separate from the room description, it’s important. There is even one dark room and one dark item. You can quickly figure they’re related and you can use a light source–and that doesn’t involve taking the lamps that are scenery.

You wind up having to guess two verbs along the way, which are not hard, though in one case, I tried to play it safe by adding a noun, e.g. EAT FROG instead of EAT, and the parser rejected it. Which was inconsistent with before when USE X didn’t work, but USE X ON Y did. That said, the puzzles were fair.

ADL is a bit ancient, and as such, it doesn’t naturally understand stuff like implicit nouns, like Inform dies. The confusion wasn’t game-breaking, but this was frustrating in particular at the end, where I was in a slight “did I do this/try all possible combos of the command?” fog. In fact, at the end, I needed to spell something out, and I got pinged at first for not doing so, but then I remembered how to use the parser–because I’d seen it before. I don’t know if ADL has this implicit-noun capability. We take it for granted.

This feels like a step up from the author’s previous ADL efforts. The dark room provides some mystery, and the NPC interactions give the hotel some life, and the verb guess puzzles provide a good andd very fair introduction to going beyond the basic commands. Stuff like double-dipping on important commands is rejected, too. I guess my problem is that I was able to solve the puzzles because there was nothing else to do, and since the game had a solution, doing X had to be it. So I wasn’t left as fulfilled as I could’ve been. And I wish more scenery could have been implemented.

This all feels fixable, though. The author mentioned he planned to tighten up certain things, and he ran into the deadline. And I’ve been there too.

Transcripts attached in case you get stuck a bit, as I did. And for the author, too, for the post-comp tune-ups he suggested he wanted to take care of. Comments after the semicolons.

vase-log.txt (25.0 KB)
vase-log-2.txt (9.3 KB)
vase-log-3.txt (6.7 KB)


Oh hey, I just noticed something! If you copy and paste a title from the competition page, it provides links to the entry and the author. So I’ll want to do that in the future–each link means that much more probability someone says what the heck, I’ll look at this now.

The Interactive Adventurer’s Tutorial Adventure, by Cobwebbed Dragon

Like Rex Mundane’s PJTA, I was worried this might get too meta, or meta in the wrong way, and just like PJTA, I was glad to be proven wrong. The meta-fiction bits here have, to my knowledge, not been done before, but it feels like someone should have. And it also feels well-paced. What the author does could easily come off as forced. And though I’m only three adventures in, I’d be shocked if anyone topped this for the tutorial segment. The tutorial is part of the game, and it flows well.

The object is simply to visit all the rooms, which is sort of refreshing–it takes a lot of the pressure off the player to do stuff. But of course it’s not just a matter of mapping things out. There are two areas to IATA: the introductory bit and the actual adventure. In the introductory bit, each room’s name is a basic parser concept. It starts with you are here, and other rooms include examining and locks. You have to navigate darkness to get to the real adventure.

I think the author deserves credit for (likely) resisting the temptation to hat-tip classic Infocom games. It would be fun for those of us experienced with parser play, but that sort of inside joke would ruin the welcoming atmosphere ParserComp seems to want to give. And also, it seems that the lack of really wild or catchy items or room names is a design choice and one I agree with. Mystery builds in the second bit and fits together at the end. But because TAIA primarily hopes to be a tutorial, it only gets uncovered along the way and builds quickly at the end.

There is also a CLUE command if you get stuck, which worked well for saying “don’t bother with this location”–the trickiest part for me was heeding the note that you can EXAMINE twice, but for the wrong item. In the end, there is a treasure to find, sort of. There’s even an insta-death, which is pretty well clued and reversible. You don’t quite get eaten by a grue.

It’s impressive that the author took a bunch of standard adventuring items and put them into a game that feels like a really good introduction for people who might have trouble with parsers. I’ve played too many parser games to be sure of this, but certainly I had many “I wish I’d known that” moments when starting out. And while stuff like Zarf’s reference card is certainly handy, you can’t really experience reference cards.

TALP is a great niche for this sort of thing, and I think IFComp and even Spring Thing would’ve been the wrong place for it. Its focus and experimentation revolve around teaching. While those two comps encourage experimentation, the experimentation there is more literary or with visual effects. And, of course, the specter of past not-so-robust homebrew parsers may make people think “oh no.” But in TAIA’s case, everything is pretty clearly spelled out. And it seems to anticipate mistakes the player may make. For instance, near the end, you have to guess a number, and one might be wrong, and it has a useful response to this. That doesn’t make or break the game, but it was one of those “aha, the author really understands how not to frustrate the player” moments.

That’s not to say TAIA neglects aesthetics. Colored text makes it easy to focus on what’s important, and the text is consistently grouped nicely above the parser prompt, though I would needle the author for a change post-release. They talk about the EXAMINE command that can examine scenery – but it would be neat to have a different text style for scenery that could be examined, or an option to toggle it, much like the game had the HELP NUMBER option to toggle noting how many rooms you’d explored.


Can I just point out one thing in Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, as it’s something that most players will miss. There are three ingredients. You will find the first two very easily, but the third one depends on the order in which you open things in the kitchen. In your case, the missing ingredient was the strawberry jam. In my case, it was the bread. For someone else, it will be the peanut butter.


Ooh! I didn’t notice that, but I’m glad you pointed that out! That’s very cute.

I was sort of wondering why the author chose the strawberry jam in particular. Maybe I missed something in the game that makes this more explicit. Before I replay and submit my review to IFDB, I should check those paths out. Replays shouldn’t take long, since once you know the solution, it’s pretty intuitive.

(Here I will avoid a righteous rant about how, in proper society, one must always, always put the jam on a sandwich last, and how one should address those who fail to as “you people.” :wink: )


Thanks muchly for the review, and yes, being frustrated by the parser is my biggest bugbear in text adventure games, so it’s really pleasing to hear that the parser didn’t frustrate you. I did want to pick up on one point you mentioned about aesthetic style towards the end:

Did you use HELP MODE during the game? That mode highlights scenery nouns with which you can interact. Or did you use that and feel it was insufficient?


You’re right! I lost track of HELP MODE midway through the game, conflating it with HELP NUMBER. I guess this is why rough drafts are a good idea before sending things to IFDB.

But I think there is one thing worth noting – I had help mode turned on and once I got to the second part, TAIA turned it off.

Now the header has “help mode” if help mode is on, so I could deduce that, but this brings up some pedantry.

  1. at the start of the main game, should TAIA inform the player that help mode is shut off for the main game?
  2. should the header have “help mode off” in the header, to remind the player it can be turned on/off? This might make the header too cluttered.

I think it’s fair and good to default to no purple text, as on balance, I think people can be more upset if stuff is spoiled than if they aren’t cued perfectly right away.

And along the way, I thought of a really advanced feature request: to have something that checks in the main game where, if you’ve visited all the locations you can,

  1. do you have purple text turned on?
  2. did you examine all stuff that could be in purple text?

It checks off how far along you are and then, if necessary, prints out a help message saying “You’ve looked around, but you may not have found what you really need, yet. You may wish to turn HELP MODE on.”

This maybe isn’t perfect because, for instance, if the player doesn’t figure they can climb the tree, then it’s not about where you can go, precisely, more about what paths are more obvious. So working this out for each individual game-puzzle may be tricky. But I think it could pay off!

The Inform 7 pseudocode might be as follows:

collapsed to avoid spoilers
check examining tree: add tree branch to known room array

if room gone to is not visited:
  now room gone to is visited;
  if everything in known room array is visited:
    now everything in known room array except room gone to is unvisited;
    if tree is unexamined: say "HELP MODE may help you find an item to get in the house." instead;
    if player does not have trowel: say "There's a tool you haven't found yet! Look around." instead;
    say "You've had a(nother) trip through everywhere that's accessible, but nothing turned up. (HELP MODE clue).";

The process of deciding whether a room is available feels nontrivial but if it’s worthwhile, it seems like a good post-release feature for if the player stubbornly overlooks things. And not having it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game.


Good ideas, thank you. [2] would be really easy to implement and might be enough of a cue that the mode has been changed, too. I deliberately turned all the modes off when starting the adventure to avoid spoiling anything the player wanted to discover for themselves but if you don’t notice it’s gone off, you might not think there are any nouns with which to interact at the location. Good catch.

And it’s an interesting point that someone could have explored all the ‘available’ locations and be stuck trying to find the ‘hidden’ locations and so need to be prompted to do something wherever they currently are. I’ll have to think about the best way to do that - as you say, I’d need a way to track their progress through the available locations (as opposed to just tracking their progress through all locations). One to think about (probably as a post-jam enhancement). Thank you.


Glad I could help … yeah, I was getting into some pretty detailed stuff here. But that’s what happens when you write a robust game and people get interested in it! They look into details, for better or worse.

And it’s tough to know when to draw the line on new features. But it’s a neat challenge to tackle ones that seemed tricky, and it also feels good if something pops out so ones that felt tricky, aren’t.

Anyway … moving on …

An Eggcellent Preparation (TALP), by manonamora

My first reaction on seeing this was, oh no, I wanted to play the parser hybrid the author wrote for spring thing, and I just got lazy/behind! But then there was oh yes–they, presumably, had the confidence to build on their experience and use a standard parser programming language. It’s really interesting to see someone move from Twine back to parser languages, as so often it’s been the other way. And in the case of AEP, it works well!

Having recently played a game that wasn’t really about just making a PBJ sandwich, well, cooking eggs seemed in the same vein. Given the author’s previous works I figured it wouldn’t be a straightforward “just make breakfast” affair, and I was right. Don’t be fooled by the fried eggs on the cover, though. You will need to boil the eggs to get the best ending.

And this isn’t about preparing a fancy egg feast, either! Though I wondered if it would be, where the author switched from Thick Table Tavern and different types of alcohol to, well, a cooking scenario with all differnt manner of eggs.

AEP is about something more interesting. It involves proposing to someone in an unexpected and memorable way. I enjoyed the intrigue here. There was an explanation of what you needed to do and why, and how it worked scientifically, and it wasn’t too long, but my adventure-game-theorist side immediately said “Oh, I can see what sort of puzzles would come from this.”

The plot is, in a nutshell: get eggs from the henhouse, boil them, and they are part of your marriage proposal if you do things right. The puzzles are well thought out and lend themselves well to tutorials that don’t spoil things. There are ways to mess things up, and the tutorial mode notes a few of them both before and after the fact. I’m being vague about what to do with the eggs, because I hadn’t read you could do that, and I think playing AEP would generate more interest and surprise than reading me post it here. (You find out pretty quickly, in-game.)

As for the story, there’s some amusing awkwardness and tension over how and when to propose and, yes, there are ways to do it wrong. A traditional way fails badly, and for good reason if you pay attention to things in your house. It’s also possible to propose incredbly unromantically. So that’s all quite funny.

AEP was clearly successful, to me. I felt king of like a bum picking at some transcript/parser bugs that are the sort of thing I find, because I’ve written a lot of parser games, and I know where pitfalls are for good and conscientious programmers. So I felt kind of bad maybe posting a transcript, but then I remembered I shut down and restarted my browser halfway through, and Adventuron didn’t catch that. Which, well, even if I want to make my favorable opinion clear, I feel sort of like a bum for pointing ticky-tacky stuff out. Because, well, it’s the sort of thing that pops up in an author’s first parser game, especially if they were just coming off writing an ambitious entry for Spring Thing.

Given that AEP’s a game I’d like to play through again to look at the design, I might post a transcript later on the down-low. (One reason to post it, as a quasi-walkthrough, isn’t necessary. The in-game walkthrough is fine, especially coupled with the tidy text map, and really, the game is short.) It’s a good size for a first parser game, and it does a good job of funneling the player into what they should do when presenting them with an interesting task, one where I thought “does that really work? That’s neat.” In fact, it’s interesting enough, it’s something I might try in real life.

Again, AEP sold this bit well. Many text adventures/interactive fictions may remind me of books I want to read or even coding I want to try for my own games. Or they make me google images of some far-away cities or look up terms. But actually try something new? That’s rare.


fwiw, I was missing the bread in PBJ:TA, which I eventually found and acquired, but I’m now playing Midsummer’s Eve which has been rather good so far, mostly, but I’m having trouble finding the third purple ingredient. I have found all the clues but one. If someone could pass a hint to me, I’d muchly appreciate it. I can only go around the map so many times before getting dizzy.


I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I was worried about the game being too wonky because I didn’t know what I was doing… :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh don’t worry, keep being lazy until I release a post comp update to fix everything :rofl:

AEP is a translation/update on a French version which was created for La Sens Dessus Dessous, a jam were you were assigned an IF program. Mine was Adventuron. From the first line of code on that French version to submitting here, there was maybe 1 month?

It was definitely easier to create it with an actual parser program than Twine, :100: . There are a lot you don’t need to worry about because the system does it for you. [Aside from thinking of the synonyms for words and verbs… that was still hard to do :stuck_out_tongue: ]


The three purple things are

  • Pansies from the grandmother’s flower shop

  • Aster from the field of flowers

  • Webcap from the old man’s yard in the mushroom forest - you have to pick it up as soon as you get there, before he comes outside!


Thank you! The pansies were the ones I couldn’t find. Grandma had mentioned them, of course, but I didn’t see them anywhere, and there was never a new conversation option to ask her for some. I never thought to try taking something that clearly wasn’t there yet. You’ll be amused to hear that I spent quite a lot of time trying to rip or climb the purple circus tent or swimming and digging in every location trying to find a purple snail or purple worm or whatever. Flowers on the fairy’s roof didn’t help me, the flower crown didn’t help me, and I triple-checked the field of flowers trying to see if secret pansies were hiding behind the widow(er)'s cabin. Even pizza with grapes wasn’t purple enough. (Likewise, pizza with frogs wasn’t quite what the fairy wanted.)


Well, you knew what you were doing with the game design, and the rest tends to follow from that.

Also if we just stuck with what we knew we’d never grow, and I think you took on a project of the right scope to learn really quickly!

If/when I replay I’ll send you a list of suggested touchups. They don’t ruin the overall story, but I want them to be there in case you want to line things up to knock out quickly post-release.

First Encounter (TALP), by T.H. Tyr

So this is an interesting author page … they have 3 offerings, and they seem to progress from “I’d like to write a game” to “here’s a pretty good partial one” to a complete game. Congratulations to them. It is well done, both on its own and as a fit for TALJ. First Encounter is a brief horror tale where a ghost of a woman appears to you, and you follow her. It’s not quite clear why she is, so there’s some mystery.

However, you learn soon enough, because FE is relatively on rails. It was effective for me. There aren’t many puzzles beyond finding a light source and leaving the house the right way (following ghosts with uncertain motives willy-nilly is just a bad idea and, in this case, taking precautions heightened the tension for me,) and there are a few directed-verb-guessing puzzles. Here I’d suggest the tutorial might go on a bit longer–I really don’t know if Adventuron has something to look at the input and say, for instance, if someone has a kazoo and people type BLOW KAZOO, “this is a relatively simple verb.” But if it does, that feels like a tap-in for a post-comp release.

Saying the author didn’t try to do too much always feels like a backhanded compliment because it kind of implies they shouldn’t have considered reach higher, or maybe they should not the next time. But here I hope it is heartfelt. Too many people, some with considerable skill and knowledge, shoot too high and wind up with nothing. I think TALP really helps with that. And one problem with a too-elaborate game is that it can exhaust reviewers and judges for the next one, though of course too many that lack details make us look for more exciting stuff elsewhere!

But there’s of course a balance between self-interest and not hogging the oxygen. It feels like EF made sure it did not hog the oxygen, and the author can and should be bolder with their next game.

Because as a TALP entry I found FE to be a success. It took on a good subject and good atmosphere that forced it not to do too much–in this case, adults were sleeping and you didn’t want to disturb them, which meant you couldn’t go walking through the house. It may be the shortest one you play through in TALP, but that’s more due to very sensible, logical cluing and an economy of use. There are few red herrings, if any.

Transcript attached, mainly for the author’s edification. Even if the game weren’t well laid out, clearly telling you what to do next, the walkthrough hits the spot, too.

transcription_First_Encounter.txt (4.4 KB)


Mr Seguin’s Goat (TALP), by auraes

This is incomplete, for now, because I didn’t get to the end, and once I did, the game locked me out of autosaving and undoing. Word to the wise: save before you go up the mountain!

MSG starts on a farm, where you’re a goat, tethered so you can’t move more than two rooms away from a stake. It’s a tidy bit of coding, that you can’t go north-south-east, and it establishes what’s going on here. You, Blanchette, want freedom and adventure. But first you have to eat food so Mr. Seguin, your owner, can milk you. If you are observant, you find the first card in a tarot deck, which appears later. The game asks you if you’ve done everything you can before moving on to the next part, which I found later I hadn’t. Perhaps a clue was that I had card 2 in the deck but not 1.

The part in the barn was next – it took me longer than I should have. I figured what I was supposed to do, but I got the verbs in the wrong order. I saw a theme throughout the game, where animals do use each other a bit, so the initial idyllic “eat what you can, whee” feeling quickly rubbed off. Especially after I interfered with the game of hide and seek.

The middle part was the strongest for me. The puzzles made sense, and you had the most animals to interact with, and one item is shockingly and sensibly amusing. I won’t ruin it. Sometimes something unrelated seemed to happen when you completed a puzzle (e.g. a river dam suddenly breaking–most of the time, talking to NPCs, animal or human, pushes things forward) but then I think there was a certain theme of chaos and helplessness and also sweeping Blanchette to a destiny she might not want, so that was okay. Passing to the mountainside, I got a bit confused by the requests for wood and bread–though the sense of foreboding was well done, as you talk to another animal who knows they are going to die, and you know how, too. A guess-the-verb snafu got me (it is listed in the help, but it’s not intuitive, even after I saw why the bone was shaped as it was) and then I talked to the animal friend who would help me reach my destiny.

At this point my destiny consisted of losing the card game because I was missing a card. And I couldn’t even undo! Perhaps this is in tune with the intended harshness of the game, and perhaps I should’ve been saving, but it was a bit frustrating to redo all that work.

Nevertheless, I stayed with MSG for a while, because it was interesting beyond “how does this relate to Daudet’s original story?” (Monsieur Seguin’s Last Kid Goat). But I think I was missing something early on. So I may write to the author about that on itch. Fortunately it doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of what I saw, and in fact, given how the story ends, it’s kind of neat to be on a knife-edge as to whether the author stays true to the original work or offers a way to actually defeat or survive the fight with the wolf.


Fast Times at–wait, no, The Mystery of Winchester High (TALP), by Garry Francis

I’ve played a lot of Garry Francis’s games and enjoyed them. They always seem to have a general crowd appeal to them, relying more on the interesting puzzles than the characters. MoWH seems to pay a lot more attention to the characters. They go places or restrict you. Maybe he’s done this and I forgot, because he’s written a lot. But I think the whole conceit of MoWH is very appealing: you are Ian McKenzie, and you get kicked out of class, as 13-year-old boys do, and lo and behold! You have the school to yourself. A perfect time to find missing treasure that will make it financially stable. Especially since this time, your stunt might get you expelled.

I was a bit worried when I read MoWH’s summary, because if there is a lot of treasure, then perhaps the school is necessarily very, very big. Which means the game might be exhausting. Maybe you are worried, too. But thankfully, in the spirit of TALP, it’s under control. I lost track between 15 and 20, because I was able to hold it in my head, and it was pretty clear some rooms weren’t useful. (That, and I checked with HINT, which is handy for making sure you’re done somewhere. Perhaps for future authors, another command that tells only if you’re done here would be even nicer. Cragne Manor had its coffee cup. But for a z5 game, this is great.) But just stuff like having 100 lockers and needing to find the right one (twice) makes the school feel big enough without need for a huge map. There’s enough to hack through for a satisfying adventure, but you’re not going to get stuck anywhere.

And I really like that you spend more time with an NPC than usual in one of Garry’s games–here a janitor moves around impressively for a PunyInform-sized game and gets a lot of attention without seeming too wise-old-father-figure. There’s a small part where you have to go back to ask him for more help, and he gives it, and it was surprisingly hard for me, not because one shouldn’t repeat things in adventure games or be expected to, but because Ian generally has caused trouble and doesn’t need to bug the janitor, and there’s another adult besides his teacher who impedes you slightly. The 13-year-old awkwardness comes through!

The puzzles–well, they seem more straightforward than usual in Garry’s games, and that’s appropriate given this is a TALP entry. There are a lot of tropes. There are locked doors and drawers and an apparent dead end in a basement, with a secret passage behind a secret passage. In a way, it’s been done. There’s a safe, too, and finding the combination is strongly hinted. Amusingly, it’s one piece of information you do remember from class, so it all makes sense.

I think MoWH did a good job of establishing tension despite a generous helping of tutorials and hints if you want them. And one thing it reminds me of, too – a lot of Garry’s games rely on puzzles that experienced adventures may be acquainted with, and yet at the same time I haven’t noticed a lot of repetition or overlap between games, which is impressive in a general sense.


I always love and hate hearing things like this… Love the fun ideas people came up with, hate that I wasted anyone’s time because I could have made something more obvious!

I appreciate this too because it gives me an idea for additional achievements I could add and maybe an extra hint from grandma. :blush:

Thanks for playing my game!


Midsummer’s Eve (TALP), by Grizel

I remembered the author’s Sentient Beings as one of the highlights of the first TALP jam. It’s quite good, and if you’re having withdrawal after finshing this year’s entries, you might want to go back and look at it. It’s a scavenger hunt, like Midsummer’s Eve, but there are fewer puzzles. In fact, the main puzzle may be how to juggle the specimens you have, as you need 24 total and can only carry 6 jars. There are a few verbs to guess, but they’re hinted directly elsewhere. It’s fun and cute and well done.

Midsummer’s Eve is a lot less solitary, and you are a kid who vows to win your town’s treasure hunt this year in a town full of magic. The treasure hunt features 12 clues, nicely laid out so that kids hunting for clues can find them and put them back–or, in the case of one gift item, everyone gets one, because it’s the sort of item kids like. The clues have something of an order to them. Clues 1-7 build to finding clues 8-12, each of which gives a piece of a passcode you tell to win. There are even other kids walking around, but you’re way faster than they are. But you can ask them for clues! In fact they’re cute in a clueless sort of way saying “I think you have to (X).” One was still struggling on solving zero clues when I had ten. I kind of felt mean pumping them repeatedly for clues, or maybe I was chuckling a bit inside at them, once again in touch with my inner ten-year-old. (For silly features, I think it would be cute to have a no-badgering difficulty level where you can’t ask for too many hints at once!)

ME uses the Adventuron parser in interesting ways. You have to order specific food in some cases e.g. ORDER HAMBURGER WITH MUSTARD. The garnishes matter to find a few clues. There’s not a lot you have to intuit, which is not surprising, because really abstract puzzles would be mean to thirteen year olds who just wanted a fun treasure hunt. And while some of this is, for the reductionist, just following instructions, it’s all tied up in things like climbing mushrooms or interacting with a mythical beast. But there are also commoner pleasures such as riding a Ferris wheel or playing carnival games. These don’t interest me-the-adult, but I really enjoyed being able to play along as a kid who thought they were wonderful or mysterious or whatever. Also, in a thoughtful fun twist, the specific food you order? Well, you can only carry one at a time, but you can just eat it and order something else. Everything is free. Yay! You literally have an excuse to eat until you’re sick, or until you can’t avoid being sick tomorrow. That’s what festivals are for.

The graphics are all very good and add to the mystic feel–I read on the Adventuron server they were AI generated but given my attempts to create cover art with AI, it’s a lot trickier than saying “Okay, draw a big picture with this that and the other.” In fact I had a weird bit of discovery where one location appeared to be plain, but lo and behold, on revisiting it, the graphic actually loaded this time. It added to the whole magic feel. I usually knew to wait for Adventuron graphics to load, but my eagerness to explore and beat the other kids out betrayed me for a bit!

There’s also a mystery intertwined into all this. I wound up restarting in order to actually get a transcript, and I solved the side quest (or a chunk of it) before finding the final clue I hadn’t. But I had fun rolling through things and forgot to check off on the secret items. This speaks to replayability. And the layout is very nice beyond the graphics–you can either click on CLUES (to see the clues–as an adult, 12 clues is a lot to juggle) or MAP or just type those commands. This sort of thing, you forget once you get used to it. I was also surprised you could mouse-click on the help menu.

I really enjoyed my experience with ME and I suspect you will too. There are a lot of things that just felt right, such as a grouchy man distracting me from taking an item I needed, and I missed something obvious for a bit. It has a good economy and balance for its rooms, too, by which I mean that there’s usually only one thing to do per room, so even if that last clue evades you, you can focus on rooms where you’ve done nothing yet and potentially even cross off ones where you have. The descriptions are robust enough that this process of elimination works and you shouldn’t get bogged down, wherever you might get stuck. Also, the clues are ranked by ease of discovery, which is a nice gesture for both 13 year old kids and whoever is playing this game.

minor stuff

As for technical polish it’s very strong and I really only had random parser complaints. I was a bit torn as to whether or not I should include the transcript, since I really did enjoy solving things & people may not want the temptation. But I did not spoil the possible side quest!

In a happy stroke of luck, somehow I had missed the very clue David asked for in this topic (due to 1. going the other way to start and 2. not reading the room description and 3. assuming I’d fully scoped out all the rooms near the start,) so I was able to push ahead.

One other thing? I forgot where/who Alba was. She’s the person you have to tell the password to. I could or should have figured that out by elimination, so if it was just me being careless, that’s cool. Also, nice touch not to be able to SAY PASSWORD until you have all the clues. Yes, I tried cheating.)

Transcript (yeah, there are spoilers. Also, I got the clues out of logical order on replaying e.g. you need clue X to know clue Y, but I remembered X from the previous play, and Y was nearer, so I got Y. Also, there is text you can search for if you must see where each clue is.)

My original hint-order was 1-4-7-6-5-3-9-11-12-10-2-8, for what it’s worth. It might be interesting to compare the easiest/trickiest ones in another topic!


Thank you for the review Andrew :blush: and for recommending my older game as well.

You’re the only one (so far) who has mentioned the speed at which the NPC’s find clues. That and the hint system in general are something I want to put more time into getting “just right.” What’s your opinion - should the NPC’s find clues faster? Or maybe roughly on pace with the player?