Dee Cooke's TALP Jam Reviews 2024

It’s TALP Jam time - one of my favourite comps in the calendar!

I didn’t have time to make a TALP game myself this year, so I thought I’d try and review some of the entries instead :slight_smile: Hopefully I’ll manage them all.

Their First Meeting by dravianis

Summary

The TALP Jam tends to attract a lot of first-time authors, so this debut from dravianis is a good place to start!

Their First Meeting is a short Adventuron game, part of a wider lore created by the author (which you don’t need to know anything about - the story is well introduced). There are two main puzzle sequences, the first slightly more straightforward than the second.

The tutorial, such as it is, is basically a short ‘how to play’ text. I would have preferred this to be integrated into the gameplay.

Object and scenery implementation is a bit light and patchy - I’ll give this a pass as it’s the author’s first game, but it’s often unclear what is actually an interactable object as the custom ‘you can’t do that’ messages are a bit obtuse. There are often cases where you can’t interact with an object until you’re at a certain point in the puzzle chain - I don’t mind this at all, but it could do with better ‘wait till later!’ hinting.

The main issue is guess-the-verb/guess-the-noun - allowing for a few synonyms would make this a much more enjoyable experience. I was really banging my head against the screen in a lot of cases, especially during the more complex second puzzle sequence.

I already mentioned the custom ‘you can’t do that’ messages - customising these is of course preferable to the standard Adventuron response, especially as it’s done here to fit in better with the writing style, but after a while I did get a bit sick of the tone as it felt like the game was telling me off or calling me stupid for trying things. I don’t think this would have been a problem if there weren’t so many guess-the-verb issues as mentioned above.

Overall, though, it’s a nice little story and with a bit of testing and polish (and a better integrated tutorial) would hold up well as a TALP game. As it is, beginners might find it a bit hard.

13 Likes

That’s a great review. Keep 'em coming.

1 Like

A Princess Saves a Dragon by XEevee

Summary

The game is a little rough around the edges from the off (it needs the Adventuron game information setup to be added etc.), but it has a great tutorial that ticks all the boxes.

This game uses choice options for dialogue, which I’m a big fan of. However, sometimes there’s only one choice, which is unnecessary.

The game design has some similarities with @Grizel’s Midsummer’s Eve from last year - in addition to the AI-generated fantasy graphics, it uses a similar menu line at the top of the screen where you can click on inventory, map and help functions rather than typing. The map function doesn’t seem to work though!

Unfortunately there are quite a few noticeable bugs, e.g. an NPC still present in a location after they’ve joined your party. There is also, annoyingly, a point where you have to use complex parser (PUT X IN Y) rather than verb noun, despite expressly being told in the tutorial that this is not necessary.

Sadly, I ran into a gamebreaking bug! You can keep examining the pedestal of the statue for the next clue and it keeps giving them, but if you do that, it thinks you’ve solved puzzles that you haven’t and so you now can’t get the sword from the statue (as the game thinks you already have it). So I can’t finish this one just now, which is a shame as I was really enjoying the story.

I would love to play a bugfixed version of this as it has a lot of promise. If I get to it again during the jam period, I’ll update this review!

5 Likes

‘A Princess Saves a Dragon’ has now been updated. The Adventuron game information has been added so that you don’t get that initial Adventuron warning. We now know that the author is Cornei Eva and the version is now 1.0.0. (I’ve updated the IFDB entry accordingly.) It also has some really nice background music that I don’t recall from the initial release (though I may have just forgotten) and a downloadable version. CREDITS now tells us that it sometimes requires multi-word entry. I haven’t played it yet, so I don’t know if those bugs have been fixed.

2 Likes

Thanks for reporting the update! I’ll replay it soon.

2 Likes

Camelot Jack by Davy Turner

Summary

I’ve been playing three different versions of this game on and off and the first two at least were very buggy. I haven’t poked much at the most recent version (uploaded 7th May as of this review) so I don’t know if the bugs I noticed are still there or not – I just speedran through it after running into a gamebreaking bug near the end of the version prior.

The parser is very exacting and so I’m not sure how beginner-friendly it is. I created a walkthrough for myself while trying to get through the game (I kept running into gamebreaking bugs and having to start again, as there is no save function) - have linked the walkthrough below in case anyone else is struggling for the exact command.

The game is coded from scratch in C# and I always find that pretty impressive! The author has also been very reactive to feedback during the jam so far, which has been really helpful.

A short game with a fun tone, so worth a go if you don’t mind persevering.

camelot jack walkthrough.txt (546 Bytes)

4 Likes