The Primrose Path

The Primrose Path by Nolan Bonvouloir (Inform)

The first game in the Comp I played and thought “ah, this one’s not bad”. Considering it was around the tenth or the eleventh game I played, that’s kind of depressing. But, finally, a decent game.

A confusing one, though. I have to admit I didn’t understand most of what happened in the game and even after finishing it (which I did with liberal use of the walkthrough), I still didn’t understand it. But do you have to understand what a game is about to enjoy it? Obviously not.

The game starts with you, Matilda (definitely not a good game for the main player methinks), discovering that her neighbour, Leo, has been shot by his mother. Quite why he’s been shot is a bit of a mystery at first and he also seems reluctant to let you call help for him. Then he disappears and his pocketwatch turns out to be used for a lot more than telling the time.

The game was way above average for the most part, both in the style of writing, gameplay itself and lack of bugs. However, there were a few oddities which I’ve seen before in Inform games involving attempts to open locked doors:


Here you’re told you’d open the door, unlocked it (despite just keying in a directional command and not even being aware at the time that the door was locked) but then immediately told that the door is locked. Apparently you didn’t open and unlock it at all, though it’s certainly confusing when the game tells you that you did.

Early parts of the game were easy, later parts less so. One particular command, involving a music box that needs to be manipulated, I doubt I would ever have got. Whether that’s just me struggling with a puzzle that everyone else figured out in five seconds flat, or a puzzle not clued very well, I don’t know.

Use of the pendulum is quite inspired (even though I didn’t realise what needed doing till I’d seen the walkthrough) and I wish this idea had some more uses throughout the game than the ones I found.

All in all, best game of the comp bar none. Saying that, I can’t help but feel that it wasn’t a patch on my fave games from the past two comps.

7 out of 10