Reviews by ZUrlocker

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1-7 of 7


Galatea, by Emily Short

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting as a concept for NPCs, May 25, 2011
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)

Galatea is interesting as it makes a point of emphasizing story telling through interaction with an NPC. While I think it's a great concept and will help illustrate the level of sophisticated interaction that can be done in a game, I think it's more of an interesting exercise for authors than necessarily a superb standalone work. I admit the Pygmalion reference was lost on me and I had trouble figuring out the right interactions with Galatea. Sadly the story ended just as I thought it was getting interesting. Still, a breakthrough in its time and Emily Short has done tremendous work to push the envelope in IF.


Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, engaging with excellent writing, May 25, 2011
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)

This is a fun game with a very immersive style. Great to play in a group!


Photopia, by Adam Cadre

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting story, not necessarily a great game, September 7, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)
Related reviews: easy, story, modern

Photopia is really more of a story than a game. It's interesting and it's compelling, but if you're looking for traditional IF gameplay, this might not be your cup of tea. There are no puzzles and not even many choices to be made. But when it all comes together, it works like a well-written short story. And you're gonna have an emotional reaction that you might not have expected.

Photopia definitely pushes the boundary of story-telling in a way that few could have predicted when Interactive Fiction was first introduced. In fact, I would say Photopia is best viewed as an experimental work whose impact is found in later works of IF by Cadre and others.


The Witness, by Stu Galley

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Early noir murder mystery, August 18, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)

This was one of Infocom's early games, following in the footsteps of Zork and the earlier mystery Deadline. Given Deadline's reputation for being quite difficult, some might find Witness too easy. I thought it was a good game with quite a few interesting twists. It's your basic murder mystery with several suspects, some interesting clues and a few red herrings. There are a few things that need to be pieced together and sometimes you have to wait for someone or something to happen. Still, I admit I was tempted by the InvisiClues! In case it's not clear, the inspiration for the title is that you're the witness to a murder that you then need to solve.

Given the relatively primitive state of computers back in 1983 when Witness was written, it's an impressive game. Maybe by modern standards, it's a little sparse. Back then, infocom games clocked in at an impressive 128k, so there isn't a lot of verbose writing. As a result the number of rooms, people and objects is limited. Still, Stu Galley does a good job of capturing the "hard-boiled" detective feel of '30s pulp-era fiction even if it's more of a novella than a full blown novel. Still, Witness and Stu Galley's later games defined the golden age of Interactive Fiction that inspired many more authors to come.

This game is available as part of the Lost Treasures of Infocom series. If you like mysteries, you should seek this one out. The feelies in the original game are quite cool including a telegram, suicide note "Detective Gazette" and more. You can also find versions of the InvisiClues for download at http://www.waitingforgo.com/invisiclues/main.html


Lord Bellwater's Secret, by Sam Gordon

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent writing, but occasionally arbitrary puzzles, August 13, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)

Lord Bellwater's Secret is a well-crafted single room mystery in a historical setting. The mood and style are nicely conveyed with excellent writing that sets the stage and provides the right motivation for the character.

Despite the seeming simplicity, I was definitely stumped on a couple of verb / parser issues that sent me to the built-in hints. The hints are well-done and thorough, but it made me feel like this was more of a "dig for clues" kind of puzzle than something that could be logically deduced like "An Act of Murder". Some of the puzzles have a laborious feel to them. But the story is good and the writing always pays back your efforts as the story proceeds.

There's quite a good drama that unfolds and the ending was quite exciting. It got my heart racing! I hope the author will continue with more mystery fiction.


9:05, by Adam Cadre

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Short, clever game, June 21, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)
Related reviews: short, easy

It's a short, clever game. Somewhat of a one-trick pony, but still fun. Can be completed in 10 minutes or less. Not a lot of puzzles or really interaction, but still kind of intriguing.


An Act of Murder, by Christopher Huang

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, short murder mystery, June 21, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)
Related reviews: mystery, infocom, inform7, short, hints, easy

This is a great, short piece of mystery. It's the classic "locked house, dead body, 5 suspects" genre of murder mystery done in an infocom style --complete with Sgt Duffy.

For me, just coming back to the genre after many years, this was a great intro. It's got a simple map with around 10 location, not too many objects, some modest red herrings and a good *logical* story.

Not to mention that, if you do get stuck, there are built-in clues. All this makes for a good easy game for newcomers also.

The actual who/how/motives are randomized, so there's some replay value, though some of the fun is really in the first time.



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