I will be posting short reviews of some games. There will be regular spoilers.
ACADEMIC PURSUITS (AS OPPOSED TO REGULAR PURSUITS)
A game where you have to unpack some cardboard boxes after moving into a new office, and place the items into this new office.It was no big problem finding a place for each item (some I had to discard in the bin, but anyway). I played through once so I am not sure if there are multiple endings, and whether placing the unpacked items differently in the room would alter the final outcome. There is a background story that unravels little by little, and placing the items in various places in the room unveils alternative viewpoints and attitudes of the main character with regard to his supervisor whom he’ll meet the next day. Coding was competent and I didn’t encounter any problems. One curiosity I noticed was that the assistant that guided the main character to the office at the beginning of the game was referred to as “they”, gender-neutrally. I couldn’t figure out the reason for this. As the main puzzle, placing the items, didn’t offer any real challenge, I think the main point of the game was the background story that unraveled in the course of play. It was a nice twist and was hinted at already in the blurb of the game. Summary: a nice diversion, rather short, not that groundbreaking. 6 or 7
A strong opening with a spooky atmosphere, because it is not immediately clear what is going on. However, rather soon it turns to a traditional “find-key/card-to-open-door” etc kind of chain of puzzles, and the atmosphere is pushed somewhat to the background -even if there are newspaper articles/ journals etc to illuminate the underlying story. I didn’t finish this in the allotted two hours (I proceeded as far as the lab area), but it held my interest and was competently implemented. 8
ASCENSION OF LIMBS
A strategy kind of game where you have to run your antique store in successful way. By starting with a limited set of verbs (commands) and items, you gradually gain more of them, at the same time obtaining more means of running the store. At the same time, the history of the store and how you obtained it are explained. I played through once, until I had run out of financial means (the game stops when you run out of money, and a happy ending, if I remember correctly from the instructions, is when you have managed to sell a certain number of antique items. This game has undoubtedly a high replay value, but because I am not a fan of this particular type of games, I played once only. No big problems, smooth to play. 7
THE BRUTAL MURDER OF JENNY LEE
You’re investigating a murder that happened 17 years ago, through some kind of virtual computer program that takes you to the time and location. There were some implementation problems (I can open a cabinet directly, even if a code entered into a keypad is supposed to open it; however, the items inside the cabinet become available only after the code has been entered). Some nouns and obvious verbs are not recognized (at one point, I am supposed to look under a table, but the parser doesn’t understand me). Some disambiguation problems (“Do you mean the pen or the pen?”). At times, the player is pulled out of the virtual reality of the crime scene and spends some time in limbo (why the limbo is several turns long and requires going in certain directions, is not clear), then transferring to a new location. The story doesn’t allow the player to make guesses as to who did it: the involved characters are mentioned briefly, maybe even once only, and then soon afterwards the outcome is presented. The player is not drawn into the story in a great degree. A good effort, though, and there is a surprise twist at the end. 5