The Castle of Vourtram - Alexandre Torres

I don’t have a full review to share, but here’s a thread.

Mainly wanted to point out that the Walkthrough link for this game just seems to be another link to the whole package, which does not contain a walkthrough, AFAIK. You can, however, use the CLUES command in-game to get puzzle solutions.

The Castle of Vourtram reminds me of a few other IFComp entries in recent years that seem to have a nice RPG-type game somewhere in there, just buried beneath gameplay issues. The top level of this interface, which is–Quest?, or something custom?, is very nice (love the font too!) and works well. The text, with its extremely high rate of bizarre errors, seems like an ESL situation, but that’s not a huge problem in a grindy, save-the-princess game. It was a couple of other things that discouraged me. An interface like this, with its Links of Convenience, requires some special care not to lead the player into completely relying upon them. At first the flow seems strongly guided, but then suddenly the puzzles leave you totally stranded. And the parser shot down so many of my obvious verbs or nouns that I wasn’t encouraged to try more things. Sparse implementation and low feedback: it happens in IFComp.

Having said that, I didn’t play very far (as a thief), and I have a feeling that this game will be a rewarding experience for some players if they stick with it.

I’ve posted a review here:

The walkthrough is available here:

  • Jack

Thanks for the reviewing of my game. :slight_smile:

I’d like to comment two things mentioned in some reviews :unamused: :

  1. The “lacluster” theme.
    The idea of the game was to play with the nostalgia of old adventures. It was built over a series of “tropes”, such as rescue the princess from the evil sorcerer, but with some laid back humor (I can’t follow drama in a parser game. Just lack the “suspension of disbelief”). It isn’t really supposed to be innovative at all in these aspects (it should be clear in the description). Another thing to notice, the game is an adventure for Wizard and Thieves, and an Adventure with some RPG traits for the warrior (Only the warrior learns some skills due to “fighting” experience). Even with the warrior, the game is mostly puzzle oriented, it is not an open world hack ‘n’ slash thing. Also, it contains references to many other games (from old adventures for COCO machines, to Quest for Glory, Lucas Arts Monkey Island and CircleMUD places and characters).

Sometimes it may be kind of hermetic, such as the “Are you Mad” reference of the consider command (CircleMUD).

  1. Puzzles unrelated to the story line.
    It was mentioned by someone that there are puzzles that make no sense. Specifically the “bulletin board” puzzle for wizards.
    Spoilers ahead :nerd:
    Well, the first clue is when you became an wizard it is said that few people can read and write, and that thieves and warriors cannot. So it is quite obvious that the board will be important for the wizard player.
    The second clue is when you read the board it says that you just don´t know what to search among the news.
    The third clue is when you receive the task, “There is a spy of Vourtram in the town”. Here is where I stretched a little bit.
    The reasoning here is as follows: An spy agent needs to inform his contractor, and get instructions from him. The trope for that is publishing hidden instructions in the newspaper. It was actually a major way to officers sending instructions to infiltrated agents during the WWII and cold war. So, in the absence of printed press, the bulletin board is the way to go. Perhaps I should had placed another clue in the game, but then again, the fun in this kind of game is the puzzle, and the clues system is here to help if you get stuck (in the past, they actually made the real money with the call centers answering for the puzzles).
    [end spoilers] :blush:

As the author it is my responsibility when the puzzle seems to be incoherent :confused: . But that doesn’t means that I just placed the puzzles without any logic behind :open_mouth: .

That said, I would appreciate any tips regarding improvements, and also spotted bugs.
I’m not a professional game designer. In fact, it is my first game released to the public. English is not my native language, I never lived in an English speaking country. That said, I’m very satisfied with the feedback (and ranking of the game at 52, not as the last), but a little disappointed with the lack of interest for playing in the community (as a whole). Someone said that the game was an exercise, and he is not completely wrong in that.
However, the game is complete, is huge (almost 100 rooms with full descriptions), and has three distinct sets of ways to play. Another thing to mention is that you don’t die and there should be no “dead ends”. The game is designed to be without dead ends ( if you find an unknown dead end, I will gladly add your name to the reviewer team in the credits). I’m not sure if I can say that for the 51 games better ranked than mine :slight_smile:

Someone mentioned that did not wanted to marry a princess. Well, you don’t need to. You can even let her die. There are various possible endings. You can even turn over yourself and help Vourtram take on the kingdom.