Land of the Mountain King -- Kenneth Pedersen

This is a very small kill-the-monsters-in-the-proper-order game. You’ll only get a couple of new weapons and armor, and the combat variables are much simpler and/or hidden from view in comparison to Robert DeFord’s VR Gambler, another random-combat game in ADRIFT. Parser-type interaction with objects is present too, although in a tiny amount.

Airtight implementation here, FWIW. I never encountered a noun that was not implemented to some degree, but this is ironic: although the game suggests that you “examine everything”, there are only two things in the whole game that need to be examined, by my count. Similarly, there’s a wise old woman whom you can ask about monsters, but her advice only helps with one thing… and it’s not a monster.

Random combat can be fun, but there’s just not enough substance here to have that pay off. The concept of getting stronger to reach a new area doesn’t really come into play when there’s only one area. Only the final boss can’t be reached initially. And that final fight simply requires luck across multiple RESTORE attempts, with a nothing of an ending to show for it when you eventually win.

This game has music (with somewhat jarringly incongruous repeats), and even though there’s a location called “Hall of the Mountain King”, it doesn’t have that familiar tune by Edvard Grieg. Surely that’s public domain by now? Else why use “mountain king” at all? Is this a troll entry? Ha! Get it? Trolls?

I have posted a review and transcript at:

  • Jack

I don’t care much for text-based random combat. Repetitive text-based descriptions of battles are surprisingly boring. When you watch a spiky-haired protagonist swing a sword at a troll and the number “73” pops up over the troll’s head, it moves fast; feels tight. “You swing your hammer at the troll and do 73 points of damage” is just not as fun, especially when the text is repetitive. ("… and do 48 points of damage" “… and do 87 points of damage”)

Combat is especially vulnerable to the “10,000 Bowls of Oatmeal” problem, aka “procedural oatmeal.” There was also good discussion about this on the thread for Insignificant Little Vermin.

I think almost every puzzle in the game would have been improved by making the combat non-random, i.e. insta-kill any monster that you’re prepared to beat, but have every monster insta-kill you if you fight it without adequate preparation.

There is one exception to this in the game as written.

As I see it, the point of the climactic final battle is to eat the berries when your HP gets low; that puzzle would have been undermined if the player were to automatically kill the King if you have berries. But still, even that puzzle isn’t exactly innovative. (“I should drink my health potion when my health gets low?! MIND BLOWN”). 80% of the puzzle is realizing that you can not only eat berries right off the bush, but also take them with you. So maybe even that puzzle would work better if you insta-kill the King if you come fully prepared.

The game contains only a small amount of generic sword-and-sorcery back story. I prefer games with a lot more story. Similarly, I don’t think the game was even trying to do anything particularly fancy with its prose; the written words are there to move the combat along. If that is the author’s goal, then why use text at all? Would this game be just better if it were implemented in RPG Maker?

Finally, I feel that I should comment on the music… I think it did help but it got pretty repetitive. If using a technique like this in the future, I’d want something that would ensure that a given track wouldn’t be replayed more than once every N minutes or something.

Short review: