The sequel to a game I was also very fond of in the previous year’s IFComp. I’ve posted a review of it on my blog.
Is it just me, or is there a bug that makes it impossible to take the perfume bottle? The button was nonresponsive when I clicked on it, the only time that happened in the game.
Edited to add: it’s minor by comparison, but the juggling also seemed a little buggy, unless I didn’t understand the rules; sometimes I would click all the balls, but the success button didn’t appear, and I would have to do it again.
Hi Fred’s Friend!
Hmm, first I’ve heard of the perfume bug… There shouldn’t be a button to take it, it should simply pop into your inventory when you’re in the correct passage. As for the juggling, I’ve heard it can be iffy on some people’s monitors, but all you should need to do is click each ball/emoji and then success will appear, but only if you can do it fast enough; if not it’ll boot you out. The game really runs best on Chrome, I tried it on Firefox and IE and all the formatting goes crazy!
Here’s what I see in the third desk drawer in the study:
The button on top is unresponsive when clicked. I was playing in Firefox, but I just tried it in Chrome and it’s exactly the same.
Oh! Thanks for the catch!! The fixed version has been uploaded.
I really enjoyed this when it worked well, but I’ve felt I had to ding its final score somewhat for all of the times when it didn’t.
First, the good: I really enjoyed how this was written. Sniff is a fantastic protagonist, the rest of the characters were also well written, the prose is all around solid and I liked the glimpses of the worldbuilding that we get. I think if the author decided to do a webserial about Sniff on, say, Royalroad it’d find success.
That said, I did have some issues, technical and otherwise:
The threatening letters were supposedly found with a unique quill, this being a lynchpin clue. Except I played back to where Sniff gets the letters to double-check and there is absolutely nothing there in any of the passages about any quills. (Also, how did the quill even get there? Did the author helpfully enclose it, wax-affixed, with one of the letters?)
Also, when I replayed it to make sure and went straight for the letters (wake up, juggle, buy lamp, get necklace hoisted upon you, sleep, go into sewers), the letters don’t get added as a Threatening Letters clue when you read them. I don’t know what the specific trigger for this happening (or rather, not) is.
In the same room, there is a bottle in the drawer and it’s straight up unpickupable - the link won’t click. (EDIT: Seems that was fixed since I wrote this up.)
If you already have the necklace on you when you examine the chest mimic, but you haven’t examined it yet it just lets the chest eat you even though it’s, like, right there and it’s in the necklace’s interest to keep the fleabag carrying it around alive and not forever stuck in a dungeon that’s very close to caving-in.
There are some minor continuity issues with bribing people for clues, where if you only give them 3 coins you get all the clues from them but the 3 coin description only describes some of the information you’ve supposedly just received.
Save and Load buttons are single-click, don’t show any information about the save and are positioned next to each other in the same area. It’s pretty bad UX; I’ve clicked one when I meant to click the other a couple of times and I assure you, my butt was quite mad.
You can actually go into negative money by paying for chess.
I am not against mini-games in adventure games and RPGs, I kinda like them actually, but the juggling was bit too wonky to enjoy.
Crucially, looking in the walkthrough you can get Captain’s Papers as a clue somewhere and, well, I might just be crap at detectiving but I’ve tried multiple approaches during day and night and I am pretty sure I’ve exhausted all the options and I don’t see how it’s done. And given other stuff I’ve experienced I suspect it’s just as broken as the dungeon bottle.
And this is related, but without that clue that maybe finally sorts everything into place, I found the actual puzzle of the mystery to be somewhat of a muddle of red herrings and double clues and planted clues and unrelated events. You could make an argument of equivalent unconvincingness for almost any suspect just by arguing for and against certain clues. I dunno.
Moving on to the more armchair/backseat game design-y notes:
Moving around large worlds has never been the strong suit of text games and here quite frankly the street-by-street navigation was tedious as heck. (Going to and from the police station, ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) An overworld city map with fast travel locations would have worked a lot better, with link navigation reserved to movement inside the locations.
The story does keep track of what you’ve done and adjusts things in a couple of places, like you only being able to play chess with Margarita once, but it mostly doesn’t. I understand writing an alternative second “oh you want to ask me about this again? here’s the recap I guess” version of a passage for most content is a lot of work and I am not too bothered by it a lot of the time, but there were a few instances where I felt it considerably detracted from the experience. Like, why is the conversation about releasing the gnoll prisoner repeatable forever? Why do you have to do the silver door puzzle over and over instead of Sniff going “okay I know this let’s skip through it”?
Also, puzzles where a wrong move can result in an intersting death can be fun, but they become a lot less charming when there is no means to undo the fatal decision or load an autosave to before you entered THE DANGER ZONE.
Finally and this is moving completely into the matter of taste territory, I felt the individual passages were too long. There is a talk somewhere in the GDC archive by one of the Inkle people where they talked about how they personally found that if the individual passages were any longer than about a short paragraph’s length, the players’ attention starts to wonder, so they try to break things up into the smallest chunks possible and give the players some choice inbetween. I find this to be accurate - I repeatedly had to catch myself skipping and force myself to re-read.
But despite the wall of text, I still enjoyed this a lot and look forward to the author’s next project.
Hello! Thank you for putting so much thought into all this!
Some of the glitches mentioned have been fixed, notably the ones involving the letters and chess.
Regarding the captain… The captain mentions ‘needing a drink to deal with you,’ and indeed, you can get him one. I’ll add that tidbit to the walkthrough.
There really is an endless learning curve; I beta-tested quite a lot and still get blindsided by the glitches people run into! The forum remains inspiring and helpful.
For those interested, I just thought I’d mentioned that today I uploaded a slightly nicer looking walkthrough complete with a map. You can download it on the entries page.
The link to the walkthrough is broken now.
Oh, how strange! It’s uploaded as a pdf, and several other people have tested it and been able to download it from various computers and browsers…
Ah, there’s one in the archive. I was talking about the Walkthrough button on the Ballot page, though.
I just pushed the Walkthrough Button on the ballot page, and got a nice PDF I hadn’t seen before.
I’d like to note that this line from the game is not just a hint, but good advice for life in general: “There are times when we must walk in the direction we intend to go with our eyes closed and our spirits strong. Distractions and limitations are like wisps seeking to drag you away into oblivion. Keep your eyes closed and your steps sure and you’ll have nothing to fear from them.”