Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2014 Review: Jacqueline, Jungle Queen

Posted by Reiko on November 13, 2014

This is a review of games from the 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Jacqueline, Jungle Queen
Author: Steph Cherrywell
Format: Quest

This is a fun romp through the jungle with various superpowers. It’s not very deep, but it does a pretty good job of making the powers be puzzle solutions, especially the early ones. I thought the heat power was going to be more useful than it was, unfortunately, but the water power was useful several times. There’s a bit of backstory with the demise of the pirate ship and the hint that the powers might have a dark side, but it never amounts to much except explaining the skeletons scattered around the place. Maybe it was just that the pirate crew already had their dark side, as Jacqueline never seems to have any issues with the powers.

The puzzles are generally fair and straightforward. Rarely is it necessary to wander around very much; mostly the solutions are found fairly close to where they are used, although it’s not really a very big area to start. The only real trouble I had was right at the end, when I couldn’t just use the component or put it on the radio, so it felt like a guess the verb construction. You have to explicitly use the component on the radio; anything else I tried just gave a default “you can’t use that” or “you can’t do that” message, so it’s a bit misleading.

The other problem I have with this piece, and it’s a mixed blessing, really, is the interpreter. I’ve never had any reason to play or write Quest games before (but there must have been ones in the competition before, surely?), so I didn’t have the interpreter. The Quest website isn’t really clear about the fact that the only way to play Quest games seems to be to download the whole development package. They can be played online, but only if they’re on the Quest website, which this piece isn’t. So it was a hassle to get it to run, especially when it wouldn’t even download the first three times I tried, for some reason.

On the other hand, the actual play experience was very smooth. I appreciate having the compass rose to see exits (although I never click on it to move), and the auto-completing map is easy to read. There were too many default messages for my taste, and not enough synonyms, but on the whole it was a pleasant way to spend an hour.

Score: 7
Scoring: base 7, +1 for smooth interface and map, -1 for lack of synonyms and too many default messages

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