Rovarsson plays IFComp 2022

Impressions go here, full reviews about the games I really like will go on IFDB later.

I had a yearning for SF, and the first game I played quenched my thirst thoroughly.

Crash

A repair guy’s dayjob turns into a lot more than he signed up for when the spaceship where he’s supposed to fix a measly cabinet door blows into space. Now he’s gotta repair the entire spaceship and that blasted cabinet door!

Engagingly written. Tense action. One simple guy’s plight against a background of planetary-system-wide rebellion.
Physical/Mechanical/Chemical puzzles.

Loved it.

I could not for the love of Floyd have solved this in 2 hours though. I’m in the middle of said chemical puzzle and planning to go all night if I have to.

Great stuff.

Edit: I finished it! Very satisfying.
Full review: Crash - Details (ifdb.org)

10 Likes

Well, heck, I can solve it in five minutes.

3 Likes

Yeah, coz you probably built a cheat command into the code that simply lets you type WIN MY OWN GAME.

3 Likes

The Hidden King’s Tomb

Your backstabbing fellow archaeologist/explorer/graverobber pushed you down a catacomb. Find the exit and grab all the loot.

This game brings back the classic text-adventure tropes: explore and steal. Apart from the framing story I summarized above, there is no plot or character development. This means you are only limited by your own conscience (and let’s face it, adventure players haven’t got one) while you unleash your kleptomaniac and grave-violating tendencies in the poor old King’s tomb.

The descriptions are rich, they capture the gloomy-tomb atmosphere very well. There were several rooms with vivid and memorable images, emanating an old and foreboding feeling.

Until the very end, puzzles are nowhere to be seen, except maybe looking in a few less obvious places. The final puzzle is simple but nifty, providing a nice little >click< in the player’s head.

Unfortunately, The Hidden King’s Tomb is woefully underimplemented. In a creepy crypt like this, it misses so many opportunities to reward the explorer with detailed descriptions of the ominous scenery to establish a bit of backstory (the murals and reliefs are a first obvious example). Customizing the responses to unnecessary actions (SMELL or TASTE WATER come to mind) would also help in bringing more life to the game world.

Indeed, I would love to see this game expanded into a near-puzzleless exploration of the history of this long-buried mysterious King. The focus could be not on the gathering of loot (which will always be cool, come on, it’s a text adventure, right…), but on the slow and gradual unraveling of the tale of how the King came to be buried here, and of his great or horrible deeds during life.
The medium of IF is extremely well suited to such piece-by-piece discovery of a backstory.

A nice exploration/looting excercise. I really liked the final puzzle. The top atmospheric layer of the tomb is nicely painted. The author just needs to go down a few layers beneath that and implement all the juicy details.

6 Likes

duly noted :wink: it’s a nice encouragement :slight_smile:

of course, I 500% concur, agree and second your last sentence on IF as medium.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

1 Like

Arborea

I’m afraid I only got partway into the game. It has a spoke-and-hub map structure and I visited 5 of the 8 spokes. The areas are not self-contained either, puzzles from one spoke may require objects or wisdom gained in another. In short, I still have a lot to do in Arborea!

Because that’s certain. I will continue playing this piece until the end. What I have seen is very well written and meticulously implemented.

The different areas waver between realistic and dreamlike. There is a gentle ecological overarching concept, and each spoke is like a little pocket story branching of from the main tree.

The difficulty of the puzzles is ideal for my skill level, they fit well with the theme of the area they’re set in, and some are just that kind of inaccessible-until-lightning-strikes that gives an adventurer a jolt of electricity down the spine.

I’m playing walkthroughless, and there is no adaptive hint-system. @rdevelyn , this means that somewhere along the line I will be pestering you for gentle winks and nudges.

Good game.

EDIT: Finished! I spent about six hours on it, with minimal nudges from the author and a few small peeks at the walkthrough.
Full review: Arborea - Details (ifdb.org)

7 Likes

Ha! I was kinda thinking of you when I said that some people were going to click with this game a lot better than I did…

3 Likes

But , but, … Because it’s there of course!

I just read your impressions. Funny thing is, they’re mostly spot on. We differ in the “Why should I be motivated by these random-seeming disjointed hoops to jump through.”-department.

I’ve been playing almost three hours now, and I feel confident it will all come together in the end…

Sort of…

I suspect.

Many thanks for your comments and feedback. Like all the other writers in this forum, I really appreciate these comments and reviews.

This game is inspired by the sandbox-style exploratory games that Infocom produced back in the day, such as the Zorks, Enchanter, Sorcerer and, my favourite, Trinity. It’s not a narrative game, which I know are much more common these days. I also took my lead from those Infocom games in making it a standard difficulty setting - i.e. most of the puzzles are relatively easy but at least a couple are a little bit trickier, though I’ve put a lot of clues in the text for those, especially after feedback from the beta testers, so they should provide those lightning-strikes style moments (or kick-self style moments if you look at the walkthrough :slight_smile: ).

And it is also Infocom-length - i.e. about 350 commands to complete it - so definitely longer than 2 hours!

Many thanks once again for taking the time to play it and I certainly hope you get to the end :slight_smile:

Richard

3 Likes

Hub-and-mushroomclouds map design. I love it too. But hard.

2 Likes

And, now that you’ve finished it, thank you very much for the full review.

Glad you enjoyed the journey :slightly_smiling_face:

Richard

2 Likes

Cannelé & Nomnom; Defective Agency

Snazzy tempo, upbeat pacing! One line at a time, clicking to the rhythm. Time hilariously ineffeciently wasted by the two chaoticly bickering detectives that lend their names to the game. Funny back&forth dialogue, with the player as the openmouthed bystander who barely gets a word in.

So yeah, great adrenalin-pumped first reaction.

45 minutes later, I’m still clicking away one line of text at a time, barely even reading the dialogue anymore. The detective’s antics have become stale, my indecisive and inactive PC keeps getting pushed around and I, the player, am hardly doing any brainwork.

Slow down. At least give me a full paragraph to read without having to move my index finger…

I liked the investigation board mechanic, pulling together and rearranging clues I stumbled upon while clicking. This gave me a bit of a rest when I (like my PC) was out of breath.
I can see the appeal in the Scrabble-Poker hybrid minigame. This would be a good casual lunchtime game on its own.
There are a lot of really funny bits in the conversation, the characters would probably lend themselves well to a fast-paced five-minute TV sketch.

But the relentless avalanche of once-funny bickering and interrupting got to my nerves after about twenty minutes.

The snazzy-fazzy cool-chaotic vibe has overstayed its welcome, becoming an annoyance. I can’t see myself playing this any longer for fun.

Two things made it so for me:
-The game never lets up: No change of pace or tone or atmosphere, no rising dramatic tension and release thereof, just obsessive over-the-top dialogue and action all the time.
-The method of delivery: Clicking every five seconds for another line of compulsively cramped funniness, like I’m providing the beat for someone else’s one-liner stand-up routine. What started as a fantastic way to hit the ground running at breakneck speed lost its attractive momentum after a short while.

I’m sure most of my criticisms can be turned upside down, that these things make Defective Agency a great lightning blast of a rollercoaster ride for some, but I could not continue enjoying it past the introduction.

I do really appreciate the considerable skill in making this game. The perfectly timed sound effects underlined the humour. The dialogue, when sampled in smaller bites, is really funny and the scene where we’re all running around trying to find the market had a great slapstick feel to it, which made me chuckle and chortle out loud as I was imagining it (causing my cat to jump from my lap with an accusing stare). Benny Hill meets Scooby Doo racing through the streets.

I played until I had solved the Market-mystery (a bit more than an hour), and then I quit. Just too much too fast of the same for me.

Edit: Please see below for my mea culpa for being so harsh, wherein I retract or revise some of my criticisms.

6 Likes

Cannelé & Nomnom (continued)

I had a bit more than 45 minutes left on the timer for the adventures of the Defective Agency, so I gave it another go, starting from the last (convenient) auto-save.

Last night I was thinking about Cannelé and Nomnom and I felt I had maybe not done them justice. Yes they’re chaotic and loud and all over the place, but that shouldn’t mean I have to let myself be sucked in by their hyperactive antics, right? I mean, I have an 8-year-old running around the house. I should be armoured against this kind of thing.

So this time, I went in determined not to be swept along by Cannelé and Nomnom’s cyclonic energy and play at my own pace, withdrawing more often to the quiet space of the investigation board figuring out clues and links and associations for the backstory, and pacing myself when clicking to advance the story.

I couldn’t change anything about the interface itself (still one click per line…) but I could change my mode of interacting with it.

It made a big difference for the better. Turns out that I had missed a lot of fun in letting myself be dragged along before. I’ll be adjusting my rating to account for that.

In the end, still not quite my thing, but well worth playing and a laudable show of skill.

The psychic time foreseeing puzzle was a great experience.

6 Likes

Lost Coastlines

I’ve been on a most adventurous journey through Dream World. I visited enchanting islands and got lost in a murky swamp. I mined the mountains for rare crystals and had some dealings with a shady Thief. I visited a town where the dead are buried under the floors of the living. A city full of lights of all colours mesmerized me.

Lost Coastlines is a procedurally generated sandbox RPG implemented in Adrift. It eschews the normal parser commands in favour of a choice-based approach. This means that the granularity of actions is far coarser than in your usual parser game, instead focusing on higher level commands to choose, for example, PLUNDER THIS SEA STRAIT, or MINE FOR CRYSTALS. The results of your choices are calculated based on your strengths and weaknesses. In turn, they affect those stats, giving you better skills or lower tolerance for your next adventures.

I cannot begin to fathom the switches, buttons and dials that this game juggles under the hood, the amount of variables that work in concert to make this a smooth exploration experience, but they work.

There are still minor issues, capitalization of place-names and the odd typo being the most noticeable, but as a whole, the game runs smoothly without any major glitches I could notice.

The writing is fit for such a large scale enterprise, giving grand visions of lost continents and sparkling fantasy cities, and introducing intruiging characters in a few pointed sentences.

I enjoyed it best by playing in shortish sessions of fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, as the gameplay of “visit an island, perform one action, maybe have a meaningful encounter, and then repeat the cycle” can become repetitive. Even then, the game sucked me in and had me mumbling “Just one more turn before I quit…” more than once.

I feel I’ll be returning to this game many times long after the Comp. I’ll also study the PDF manual ànd the in-game help more closely, so I can make better sense of the character information viewed by the STATUS command. This way, I’m hoping to set up a more focused long term expedition with self-imposed quest-objectives.

A large-scale journey of discovery in a vast enchanting world.

4 Likes

The Archivist and the Revolution

Speculative fiction can hold up a distorted mirror that picks out and focuses aspects of ourselves and our current state of being (be it technological, scientific, societal, political). Scrutinizing these in an exaggerated form, or projecting their consequences in the long term can offer new pespectives.

I had never considered gender issues as a wide scale political breaking line, but the case made by The Archivist and the Revolution is plausible, especially when one considers the conflation of transgender with transhuman that is at the heart of the conflict that separated the human race in this version of future history.

The Archivist and the Revolution illustrates the fear of the new and “unnatural”. Even more so, it points out the loss of the ability for nuance, for allowing vagueness and overlapping categories brought on by that fear.

The story is intense and emotional, with universally human dilemmas at its core.

Navigating the piece as game reflects these sometimes conflicting dilemmas, one priority blocking off another. Decidedly choosing one path will leave the others neglected, while trying to balance priorities will leave all of them unsatisfied.

This piece, with its choices reflecting those human dilemmas and priorities, is a strong and concentrated illustration of that aspect of life, going over and above the actual content of the story.

I came to an ending which is perfectly summarized by a Dutch saying which I will translate here: “to choose is to lose”.

3 Likes

@cchennnn , I’ve just reread my post about The Archivist and the Revolution and I’m afraid it’s a bit incoherent. There’s probably not much in there in the way of helpful feedback.

These were impressions written up right after I had played through the game once. I plan on spending more time with it later and posting a proper review on IFDB then.

1 Like

Lazy Wizard’s Guide

An entertaining run-of-the-mill magic adventure. To pass your final wizardry exam, you must explore the school searching for magical supplies and complete five tasks (and a bunch of side-tasks).

I didn’t quite get to the end in two hours. I’ll go finish it right after writing these impressions.

Good atmosphere, characters that might be interesting behind their cardboard façade, a few entertaining puzzles.

I encountered a few bugs.
One where I couldn’t use an exit for some time, but when I reloaded my saved game it seemed to have fixed itself.
Another required me to use some under-the-hood parser knowledge to squeeze the game. I forced the disambiguation message to show me which objects were available in one room. If there is a legitimate way to obtain this knowledge, I did not find it (and I looked…)
EDIT: I have been informed by the author that there is indeed a perfectly good in-game legitimate way to find out about the objects. My fault. I didn’t look (or rather TALK) hard enough.

The game/author’s voice regularly drops out of nowhere with information that could have been seamlessly incorporated in the story (a paragraph in a book, a monologue by an NPC, a plaque on the wall…)

With some dedicated polishing this could be a very enjoyable adventure. Easy, fun, perfect for a sunday afternoon. As it is, it’s still a bit too rough around the edges.

That said, I did have fun. Mr. Ord Nung is very intruiging. I’d like some more backstory.

Now I must be off. I’ve still got a gargoyle to deal with…

3 Likes

Elvish for Goodbye

An elaborate worldbuilding accomplishment, with a touching story shining through. The glimpses of the Elven city we are granted through an unknown narrator’s tales are beautiful, soothing almost. The Elves’ dependance on words and trees to make their home moved me deeply. A literary-historical-creative society.

We are given even sparser details of the alternate earth human city, perhaps because the asker of questions who represents us is an inhabitant of this city, accustomed to its peculiarities. Short descriptions mention strange machines and hard-to-imagine energy-production. An alchemical-technological counterpart.

The traversal of the story I experienced was wistful and nostalgic, with overtones of hope. I encountered themes of destruction and renewal, the young born out of the old.

The delicate treatment of language and its role in retaining a stable sameness throughout history while allowing a shaping anew of older forms into the future resonated deeply with me.

I will read this story again and again to catch more glimpses. Beautiful.

3 Likes

Let Them Eat Cake

Brrrr… This one gave me the jitters. It even reminded me of Roald Dahl’s adult stories a bit.

Layers upon layers of, um, let’s say unappetizing secrets await as you meet the different characters on your seemingly innocent search for cake ingredients.

Very well drawn characters, in writing and also literally, beautiful artwork. Each visit deepens the eerie feeling of underlying mystery. A chillingly unsettling atmosphere.

I did find the ending somewhat over the top. The inclusion of an otherworldly menace devalued the dark buildup for me. A ritual sacrifice carried out by the townsfolk themselves would have been more bonechilling to me.

I encountered some typos:

-: “flours” → “flowers” (in the garden)
-“disCtinct” → “distinct”
-“Biled” → “piled”
-“inconcIEvable” → “inconceivable”

And one bug:
-I went to the bakery to make butter right after I got the milk. When the butter was made, the option to go make it stayed open. I could go back to name the cat and make the butter indefinitely.

Very creepy good game.

2 Likes

Campus Invaders

Silliness! Yaay!
Self-referential IF silliness…'mkaay…
Severely underimplemented self-referential IF silliness… well…

When Campus Invaders plonked me down in the middle of a “my crappy school/alien invasion”-hybrid, I went all giddy with expectations. Oh the possibilities… That’s one big opportunity to juggle and mix-n-match some tropes into a hilarious IF pot-pourri.

My enthousiasm swiftly waned…

There are many typos (slips of the finger adding à, é or even û at the end of a word). The game switched from present to past tense in a location. I could not descend the stairs with a trolley, I had to use the elevator. However, a “sturdy ladder” posed no problem…. The horrified school rector is looking out of his office window at the swarming aliens outside. X ALIENS; “You can’t see any such thing”. A great opportunity for a wider view of the game world got burned: On the terrace: X SPACESHIP; “You can’t see any such thing.” Granted, I got a line of text about the ship after X LIGHTS, but come on…

And the fricking laser-armed alien robot should kill you after two turns. Same goes for the hideous alien in the bathroom. Add some spice!

Spring Thing and ParserComp are coming up in a good six months. If only the author had mustered some more patience…

Mind you, I absolutely love the setup of this game. So many opportunities. If this were expanded and polished and implemented more deeply, I would happily embrace all the silliness it could throw at me, nevermind what Monty Python’s captain has to say.

But in this state? No.

2 Likes