My breakdown of the Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024 games

Continuing the discussion from Ratings needed for Text Adventure Literacy Jam 2024:

In case anyone wants to play and needs a breakdown of the games to figure out which ones to play, I just finished them all:

Bakemono no Sekai - World of Monsters, by Gianluca Girelli

  • Length: Pretty long (took me two hours)
  • Focus: Introducing reader to Japanese names and customs, and monsters
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate. I thought of decompiling a couple of times, and had some problems guessing the right verb, but I got through without a walkthrough.
  • My favorite part: I thought the different monsters were cool and liked the ending.

The Basilisk and the Banana, by Jasper & Darren

  • Length: About half an hour for me
  • Focus: Greek mythology and pictures made by a kid
  • Difficulty in finishing: Low. There were a few times I didn’t know what an item was for for a while, so it’s not trivial, but I bet my 12-yr old could beat it without hints (I should show him it).
  • My favorite part: The epic pictures and the minotaur.

Camelot Jack, by David Turner

  • Length: Not many puzzles, but ability to lock self out of victory and lack of undo/save/restore means I took a couple of hours.
  • Focus: Demonstrating a custom C# parser engine with the intro to a longer game
  • Difficulty in finishing: High. Had difficulty entering correct verbs, and had to replay over and over to be able to finish. Custom parser didn’t have a lot of features I’m accustomed to, and I had to read and ask for other’s hints multiple times.
  • My favorite part: The opening ‘reversal’ of the Sword in the Stone legend, I thought it was clever.

Day Out, by Zeno Pillan

  • Length: Took me about 15 minutes to do one ‘path’ and an hour to finish all four + the bonus ending.
  • Focus: Diverging paths in a day at work, each with its own kind of riddle/puzzle
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate, mostly getting stuck on the puzzles or figuring out what to type. I had some difficulty with the parser, where some areas you had to just type the name to get there, and others you had to DRIVE there, for instance.
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed the nature walk and animal descriptions.

Lulu and the Asteroid of 100% Guaranteed Doom, by Ben Ryan

  • Length: About 2 hours. It has the largest world map of any of the TALJ 2024 games, but has an accompanying walkthrough and map.
  • Focus: Heavy worldbuilding, with another world, a magic system, money, many characters, etc.
  • Difficulty in finishing: High without walkthrough, easy with. Many puzzles require items which are found far away and items aren’t themed with the puzzles that use them, so it may require a lot of collecting and experimenting.
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed the sword spells.

Lysidice and the Minotaur, by manonamora

  • Length: Took me about an hour. A lot of rooms (it’s a labyrinth!) but a map is provided.
  • Focus: Felt to me like both a character/relationship piece first (with the minotaur) and a classic puzzle game second. Although not really ‘classic’ since a lot of puzzles are optional and change the ending.
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate without hints, easier with hints. There are a lot of optional puzzles, so if you’re stuck there’s a good chance you can get out without solving your current puzzle. I did get stuck at one point by not reading room descriptions and at another just by getting lost (I didn’t check the map).
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed the relationship with the minotaur

A Princess Saves a Dragon, by Cornei Eva

  • Length: About 15-30 minutes.
  • Focus: Exploring a magical forest filled with fantasy creatures
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate. There are puzzles but they are well-hinted in-game. I had some parser hiccups and a few nouns weren’t implemented, but usually there was a clear path forward, with some thought required on how to accomplish your current goal.
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed the dragon and interactions with it.

Their First Meeting, by dravianis

  • Length: About 15-30 minutes, depending on how quickly you can guess what to type
  • Focus: Two big puzzles: catching and cooking fish, and assembling a device
  • Difficulty in finishing: high for me, despite several hints, as I had trouble figuring out what to type. A lot of puzzles require combining two items but only 2 word commands are used in general, except when they’re not.
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed pondering what the gems’ true nature was.

Who Kidnapped Mother Goose?, by Garry Francis

  • Length: About one hour for me
  • Focus: Fairy tale characters inserted into classic parser gameplay
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate. Implementation was smooth and many actions were directly hinted, but a few I had to think about for a while before hitting on the solution.
  • My favorite part: I enjoyed how ‘alive’ the town felt, with numerous characters.

The Wolf, by Leo Weinreb

  • Length: About 15-30 minutes for me
  • Focus: Flipping all the stories about ‘the big bad wolf’ to a new, humorous perspective, mixed with puzzles
  • Difficulty in finishing: Moderate. It was almost always clear what needed to happen, but sometimes I had to wait until (what felt like) an arbitrary later point to carry it out.
  • My favorite part: The humor in this game hit just right for me.