Review: Augustine

(An interesting half-interactive short story. The parser medium seems like an inappropriate fit for this work though: Augustine - Details ( )

Watch out what you wish for.

An oath sworn in anger and grief leaves two men immortal, bound in their fate until one succeeds in killing the other.

One of them is Kasil, a merciless warlord who led his men on gruesome slaughter-rallies through England in the early fourteenth century. The other is you. You saw your village butchered at the hands of Kasil’s men and your sister raped and murdered by the man himself. At the end of an undecided duel, you swear that you will either kill him, or die by his hand while trying. And so the curse takes hold…

First, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, this setup is very reminiscent of the Highlander-movies. It’s too good a story to dismiss it as derivative or even plagiarizing though. I categorize it as “an original story in the Highlander -universe”, even though the particulars of the spell/curse are somewhat different.

I was impressed with the structure of this story. Augustine begins with an action-packed prologue where the player learns the backstory of both characters and their bond of fate.

The contrast with the start of the story proper, where you are a bored office clerk in the city of Augustine could not have been greater. Looking for a way to spend the evening, you buy a ticket for a ghost-story tour. It’s during these stories that the player learns that the PC is indeed the same centuries-old warrior from the prologue. Although it could be a bit more refined, the author still makes good use of the PC knowing more than the player.

Through flashbacks brought on by the different stories, the player gradually traverses important events of the protagonist’s life, coming to know and understand him better. Eventually, this leads us to the expected final showdown at the end of a second and rather more eventful story-tour.

An enthralling story to be sure, but very flawed in execution I am sad to say. When going over my notes for this review, I was reminded of my comments on Jack Toresal ( Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter - Details ( A great adventure story, but not an adventure game. Apart from some fightscenes where you can THRUST and PARRY, there is hardly any interactivity. Almost no exploring and no puzzle-solving whatsoever. Exploring the story would count as adventuring for me, were it not that the game is so railroaded that there might as well have been a next page-link at the bottom of the paragraph instead of a parser-prompt.

Indeed, I would have enjoyed this story more as an ink-and-paper macabre horror fiction piece as were popular in the second half of the eightteenth century.

Add to this a very annoying lack of synonyms (>THRUST AT KALIS. You would have to unsheath your sword before you do that. >UNSHEATH SWORD. I do not know the verb “unsheath”. Aaargh!) and an all too generous sprinkling of misspellings.

Summary: very good story, badly executed as interactive fiction. Read it, but don’t expect to play it.


Hey, I remember this one from IFComp 2002! I think I enjoyed it and had pretty similar feelings to yours, though I remember my main complaint was the pacing felt off (the ghost tour was fun but had too much infodumping all at once, then the swordfighty main-plot-y bits were all crammed together). Still a good time.

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Yes. I normally welcome games with a divison into clear-cut chapters, but here I think the game would have a better flow if chapters two and three (the infodump and action parts) would have been left together to flow more gradually into each other.

But, as you say, still a good time.

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