Ahoy! We’ll see how many entries I get to this year, but one can dream…
Starting off with:
Bullhockey 2: The Return of the Leather Whip , by B F Lindsay
Gonna skip too much description of this really large, 90s-style puzzler. Its own entry blurb describes it very well, so I think you should have a decent idea going in whether this is your cup of tea.
It’s generally well implemented, especially (especially!) considering how much of it there is. There’s some stuff that gives responses I might not have expected it to, which is always surprising and fun.
Story’s straightforward. Some odd overuse of some punctuation: ellipses, double question marks, em-dashes. There was a coffee pot that’s described as empty in my inventory even though it had coffee in it, but also there were these swinging doors that actually takes a couple turns to stop swinging, which felt random but again, fun!
I’d say the map is large, and the rooms are well described, but it’s large enough and implemented in a way that meant I had to focus a lot to navigate. There’s a mountainous area where room exits don’t match (east -> west won’t take you back), and I dunno if I really need to be sold the winding nature of the area in that way. Room exits also aren’t listed in a consistent part of the room descriptions, and the descriptions are long enough that it takes some scanning to pick them out (same with objects). It’s… I dunno, there are some games where those are easy to skim, and this game makes you work for it a bit. The words themselves are okay though, with some fun quips, and the exits are listed at the top right which was very useful.
I stopped at 139/316 points (>1300 turns), hitting a point where, not sure if it was an unwinnable state (UNWINNABLE doesn’t work, I don’t recall the ABOUT/HELP type commands saying anything), but I couldn’t follow the walkthrough anymore because an armchair wasn’t there anymore. And that was after another puzzle where I didn’t really know what combinations I needed for some dials. There’s a THINK ABOUT command which is a hint system, but it didn’t help in either case, though its understandable. Considering the scope, it’s impressive how much I’d seen that was implemented. I felt like I was starting to get some backstory, but it maybe came at me too quickly to fully absorb; I was sort of distracted by just a general sense of confusion about what I was trying to do at that point. All the 139 points of stuff before that, I had fairly clear intermediate goals and was chugging along fine, the puzzles all felt logical enough, but once inside the mansion, I just lost some steam.
Hey, I never finished Jigsaw or say, Perdition’s Flames either!