Review: Hallowmoor

(An early puzzle-Twine with an inventory and compass navigation. I don’t think @DeusIrae has studied or mentioned this one in his theory/history of cross-pollination between choice games, graphic adventures and parser games. Hallowmoor - Details (

Infiltrate the Witches’ Castle

Mwoohahaa! The time and tide of the blood moon is there. A moon of power, the only time when a disembodied spirit becomes strong enough to perform the art of Spectral Shifting and reclaim the physical body you need to have some real impact on the world.

Hallowmoor’s opening screen with a red-on-black drawing of a medieval stronghold immediately sets the tone. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a puzzle to get from there into the game proper. The player has to take a detour via the “Load/Save” button to find the “Play” option.

It took some getting used to the gameplay. There are a lot of links in the short descriptive paragraphs, many of which lead to exposition text or more detailed descriptions of scenery. At times, I got the feeling I was in an unintentional labyrinth of links, especially with the various words leading to the same passages (justified by the need to maintain the flow of the prose.)

After stumbling through the first handful of screens though, I developed a nose for navigating these connections and play began to feel more fluent.

Hallowmoor is very much an old-school game focused on exploration, experimentation and object-manipulation. To accomodate this in a choice-engine, the majority of fine-grained actions like TAKE or USE are automated. The parser-like hands-on touch is preserved by requiring the player to be in the exact passage of text before succesfully using an object. (For example, opening the cupboard with the crowbar won’t work in the kitchen. The player first has to click the link to the cupboard description for it to work. Note: there are no cuboards or crowbars in the game.)

The most notable feature of the game is the aforementioned Spectral Shift magic mechanic. It allows the player to switch PCs with different skills and sensitivities. To complicate matters, the two characters come from opposing sides in a battle between their peoples, meaning they must never be in the same location together lest they kill each other. This adds a layer of spatial puzzle-solving to the basic text-adventure obstacles, forcing the player to consider where and when to move which character with some planning and consideration.

A surprising addition is the incorporation of a game-within-the-game. In a certain location, the player can play through a mini-text-game. I strongly suspect that this is where that lousy last point is hidden. (I never found it…)

An engaging and challenging puzzle-choice game.