Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

Archive for November 22nd, 2015

IFComp 2015 Review: Onaar

Posted by Reiko on November 22, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Onaar
Author: Robert DeFord
Format: Alan

The PC is an apprentice alchemist who ends up having to defeat a rogue wizard threatening the nearby town. It plays RPG-style, not with battles, but with gathering items and with cleverness in using potions to boost stats in order to pass various barriers and solve puzzles. I have no idea how difficult it is to program in Alan vs Inform or Twine or something, but this piece is cleverly done, with a lot of different timers behind the scenes to keep track of the various stats and items, since ingredients and many food items respawn after a certain number of turns have passed.

It’s not really a very difficult game; the difficulty mostly lies in optimizing the use of potions, especially early on when only weak ones can be made. By the end, though, the power curve spikes way up and it’s very easy to become insanely overpowered for the final confrontation. Again, oddly enough, there’s no real fighting; the damage is done subtly, with another potion, and the goal is simply to defend long enough.

The game is really too long for the comp, but it’s so well-done that my score doesn’t depend on the final third of the game. Plus there are side quests! Some are trivial to complete during the course of the main plot, but others require some digging.

This is absolutely my favorite game of the comp so far, a real gem. I’m planning on replaying it after to see if I can optimize the solution path and see how low I can get the turn count for a win.

Time: 2 hours+
Scoring: base 7, +1 for deep alchemy system, +1 for side quests
Score: 9

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IFComp 2015 Review: Questor’s Quest

Posted by Reiko on November 22, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Questor’s Quest
Author: Mark Stahl
Format: Windows

Windows games do not have a good track record in the comp. My first impression of this one is mostly that it looks like it’s from the 80s, with a numerical main menu and default commandline font. Definitely old-school (as the blurb advertises). Plus the McGuffin is consistently misspelled as “pendent”. It’s always a bad sign when the text wouldn’t even pass a simple spellcheck. There are several other spelling and grammar issues sprinkled throughout the text. Plus the PC is called “Questor”. Really??

The parser is better than some; at least it understands ‘x’ for examine, but it doesn’t understand ‘get’, only ‘take’ or ‘grab’. Some puzzles are quite logical, while others rely on unclued actions, such as ‘moving’ a non-solid material aside when ‘searching’ it revealed nothing. Searching should have given a response such as this: “You run your hands through the [material] and feel something buried under it. You may have to move it all aside to get to whatever it is.” Rather than just “You don’t find anything.” That’s a dismissive response that discourages further interaction. The walkthrough is thorough and accurate, though, so I was able to finish the game.

At the end, in the tower, one of the final “puzzles” involves a fight with a set of three zombies, which is reported almost like an RPG fight, with a health rating, but it isn’t a simple fight. There’s a specific order of attacking the zombies that you have to use in order to keep them from being overwhelming. The previous floor contained a fight with a lion, which was easy to defeat by using trial and error to determine which of the lion’s actions would allow me to safely counterattack. The zombies give no such information, as they do nothing after they’re knocked down until they attack again, so there’s no way to tell what they’re going to do when.

In short, this game is old-school in the worst way, cliche-ridden and outdated. It could be worse; I didn’t encounter any bugs, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Time: 1 hour
Scoring: base 7, -1 for spelling errors, -1 for uncued puzzles
Score: 5

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