Vivid, but Under-Implemented: Tower of the Elephant

This short adaptation of one of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories features engaging prose and good characterization, which is odd, because I remember Howard’s prose and characterization as clunky and overblown. I suppose all Howard needed was a good editor.

The game itself, however, is under-implemented. Nouns, plurals, and synonyms are missing, making it tough for the player to communicate with the parser. There’s even a guess-the-preposition puzzle here, which forced me to consult the walk-through. And, instead of providing clues in the descriptions, the author makes suggestions directly to the player.

Still, this game has interesting stuff in it. One of the game’s branches creates a small role-reversal for the player-character. Instead of an NPC following the PC, you follow another character. Fun, but taking this path bypasses the game’s best puzzle. There’s also a vivid, and effective, action sequence here, a rarity in IF.

I’d say it’s worth fighting the parser a bit for a few good puzzles and the excellent writing this game offers.

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