Wolfbiter reviews Spring Thing 2024 -- Social Democracy (all main festival reviews complete)

The Trials of Rosalinda by Agnieszka Trzaska
Playtime: 2 hour 37 min
(I haven’t played The Bones of Rosalinda.)

This made me want to talk about:

  • 2 minutes in and we’re off to a rollicking start–“character unfairly nailed into acoffin because of their resemblance to a skeleton” and “character detaching parts of their body to operate independently” are new and fun plot points for me
  • We get a nice unique flavor to the puzzles from the ability to switch between operating Rosalinda’s separate skull, piecrust, Rosalinda’s separate torso, etc. For example, the solution that involves combining a detached arm with another item was extremely satisfying. (Also it amuses me that “most of Rosalinda” is the canon descriptor for the torso or torso plus a single arm.) Overall the UI does a good job dealing with the complications inherent in multiple controllable units, and particularly it combines their inventories in a sensible manner. Still, there’s a bit of “oh I need to try interacting with this three times"or "oh I need to travel to this location three times” (love that the “travel to” feature is implemented, though).
  • One thing I really wanted but did not get–the ability to take simultaneous actions. This would probably be wicked difficult to code, but a fair number of the scenarios really called out for “left arm makes distraction, right arm pushes button.” ut there’s no way to accomplish this.
  • I really enjoyed the general philosophy / orientation of the game. This is a warm-hearted, generous-spirited story where characters have flaws but many also get opportunities to surpass those flaws
  • The characters are fun and I enjoyed seeing them interact. (“She stole books from my tower!” he realised. “How… how could she!” – Piecrust, mad about an unforgivable crime committed by murderous villain.) The only bit that didn’t really land for me was the disagreement at the end between Piecrust and Aurelia about societal treatment of magical and nonmagical people, because the game hasn’t provided much basis for us to have an opinion about how society treats magical versus nonmagical people.
  • Huge fan of the choice to just explicitly put the game on rails and take away the player buttons during certain sequences. Yes, if we’re in a cut scene please indicate to me that I don’t need to try to accomplish anything! I will gladly sit back and watch!

My fervent wish:
This was a delightful game and I really enjoyed the time I spent with it, but there were a few puzzle-sticking points that I wish were smoothed out, particularly given that there’s no hints or walkthrough provided (Ed: I was very happy to see the author added a hint document on itch .io! I had already finished, but looks pretty comprehensive and would have cleared up my problems.)

Most of the issues I had were of the variety where you can think of several plausible ways to accomplish something, but the game will only accept one specific solution. Specifically, trying to give the first two guards the dream moss–putting it in the mug was my first idea but I had SUCH a hard time getting him to put down the mug that that I gave up for a while and wandered the whole map, checked every location and item, wondered if I was supposed to burn the moss etc etc.; the mention of the planks being “too much for Rosalinda to carry alone” or similar made me spend a while trying to get one of the human characters to help Rosalinda carry a plank to cross the chasm; and in the chamber of trials, given that Piecrust and Lydia can stand on one, it seems you should just be able to shove some of the mecha wreckage onto the pressure plate and have Rosalinda stand on it, or have her hold rocks (especially given that Rosalinda uses rocks for weight earlier in the game).

On net, very fun, a triumph of creative puzzling that ALSO features excellent character work and a funny and interesting overall plot.