Day of the Djinn - paperyowl

A Twine puzzle game. The puzzles themselves are mostly inventory puzzles, where the correct item is automatically suggested by a hyperlink in the text if you’ve brought the item with you. IMO, this style of puzzle robs the player of a feeling of solving the puzzle. There’s usually no way to propose an incorrect solution to a puzzle, no opportunity to surprise yourself with a good idea. I would suggest changing the game to use a different UI, allowing the player to click on an inventory item to use it.

The one exception is asking Maple for specific birds which is probably one of the best parts of the game, though the allowable solutions are really explicitly stated in the text; no clever solutions are allowed.

There’s a backstory involving you and your sister, told entirely in flashbacks. Even after the curse is lifted, there’s no in-game opportunity to talk to her or reconcile, which feels like an oversight to me. There’s also essentially no narrative integration between the puzzles and the backstory with your sister. All puzzles are solvable ignoring the “remember” links. That seems like a big oversight.

I prefer a much tighter narrative/puzzle integration. I’d prefer setting this game in your sister’s house, instead of your own, and solving puzzles by getting to know your sister and how she thinks.

This is an exploration- and inventory-based clicker set in a magical world that seems to borrow the most mundane aspects of the real one. Something about it reminded me of the works of Roger Zelazny; I think it was the nonchalance of the player-character’s attitude towards his immediate threat (a curse) and towards the strangeness around him.

There are bugs that should have been caught. What I assume to be Twine-generated errors are present in a fairly prominent location. Another screen’s entire paragraph is a link to save the game, and that screen duplicates itself later on. Despite things looking like they’re going to fall apart at any moment, I was able to actually get through it. The Scotch tape is holding, so give it a whirl. The situation generates enough interest that you might want to see where it goes.

There are several endings. However, mine was disappointing in a way that I thought was the game’s biggest flaw:

Your sister wants to kill you, but I didn’t see any shred of a hint as to why, nor was this resolved in what otherwise looked like an ideal ending. The game even says you want to tell your sister you survived because she would be happy about it. Wait, what?? Despite numerous flashbacks, the story didn’t seem to either develop or resolve.

Puzzle-wise, the game is working okay. Either book-lore or NPCs will tell you what you need to do. I’m not sure you can progress otherwise, so I don’t know where the other endings might come into play. For an inventory-based system, the inventory is not handled particularly well. Acquiring something does not update the on-screen inventory immediately, which can lead to confusion. And sometimes it’s down off the page; it should be presented alongside the main text.

The writing has some good moments but needs proofreading for consistency in both ideas and spelling.

I have posted a review here:

  • Jack

Is it possible tofight the djinn and win? I thought I’d exhausted all the possibilities on that save, but perhaps I hadn’t. I know I never tried taking the coins from the fountain, though I put one in… though I’d think that would be the opposite of a good deed. Unless the teens dropped something important in there or something; it’s probably something like that. With no other prompting that it’s a good idea, and context suggesting it’s a bad one, that would be kind of mean if that’s how it works. But in a game so linear, I’m not sure I’d kick up a fuss about it. Got to get your difficulty somewhere. Or maybe I missed getting another bird?
I also noticed the bugs (well, I’m not sure how you wouldn’t) and I agree that the inventory update delay also caused a few moments of concern. I’m pretty sure it was linear up until the last choice. I didn’t mind the slight sketchiness of the worldbuilding, but I agree I would’ve liked to get more of a sense of the sister. We have flashbacks (slightly clunky flashbacks, tbh) to happier times, but nothing that explains what changed or why she might have deliberately cursed us (if she did). I thought the puzzles were pretty clearly clued, at least. It’s not bad at all, it just needs a couple bugfixes, and maybe a bit more on the sister.

Good deeds:

The good deed is relaying the message from the guardian to the old lady (and back?). I don’t know if putting the coin in the fountain helps or not, but if it does it isn’t brought up.

You may well have

missed a bird. There was a bit that showed up in the same book where you hear about djinns (I think it was) about a rare creature that you need a bird to catch. This is the rare item or whatever it was that you needed. I don’t know what triggered that excerpt, as I must have looked at that book half a dozen or more times at various points in the story before it showed up, including more than once when I was sure I’d explored everything besides the final journey.
If you got that bird, then perhaps we both missed a bird.

I think I counted 5 endings, out of the 7 it’s supposed to have. Perhaps taking the coin from the fountain would have given another. I only did that in my first attempt, which left me stuck without any obvious way to proceed. (That is, there were no links of any sort to click.)

Hmm, I’ve gone back, and I can’t get any specific bird details to show up. The incantation, yes… I’m looking at the source a bit, and I think it might just be broken. But-- oh, for god’s sake–

OK, something has to run out of the brightened closet. Then you have to follow it to the bathroom. Then the page on “squirnels” magically appears in “Gargoyle Slayer”. Then you can get the chicken with the broken wing and trade it for the gem. (You can also get a duplicate knife. Which seems like a glitch, except there’s flavortext for having it and the chicken at the same time.) But if you try to go into the forest while you have a knife, you’re stopped, with no option to return.I don’t have the time to keep poking at this right now…