Having finished playing "Mite" I can't help but think of Gail Carson Levine's book "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg." Some might think of "Fairy Dust" as just another Tinkerbell promotion. However, if you look in side, you'll see these gorgeous watercolor illustrations, which perfectly perfectly depict a magical fairyworld, where flowers are tall as trees and goblins lurk.
"Mite" is a short game that lets you have an adventure IN that beautiful miniature world!
As a game, it solidly built--with a few puzzles, but nothing too taxing. It's really the world you encounter that is its strong point. It's not huge or luxe or lush but it knows what it wants to be, and portrays it well.
Due to its length, fantastic world, and non-complicated puzzles, I think this would play very well to the fairy or elf-crazed child.
My favorite bits: the chipmunk guard (a girl!), and the ending. While simple, the ending feels true to the world anc character and leaves things open for a sequel, which I would be interested in seeing--especially if we get to see more of the chipmunk warrior!
LEADLIGHT is the most gory, horiffic, survival-horror, text-based entertainment you'll have on an Apple II in 2010 during the Halloween season!
YES you will be annoyed that you have to type "ex mirror" instead of "x mirror" in order to look at things.
MAYBE you will, like me, wish the plot made a little more sense (I only missed a handfull of secrets, but I still have questions: (Spoiler - click to show)So why is Great-Great-Grandmother out to kill me? Did she cause the massacre, or am I responsible? The girls seem to blame me, but obviously the Founder thinks I'm a horrible person who needs to be destroyed. But the Founder's doing the black magic...right? I'm so confused.).
But if atmosphere is your thing, you're gonna love LEADLIGHT because it is chock full of it.
You wake up in your all-girl Australian boarding school, and everything is wrong. Terrible, uneasy things await you in nearly every scene. But this isn't a slideshow of an empty, spooky school. Oh no. LEADLIGHT is crawling with your former classmates, all gone mad...(Spoiler - click to show)and most trying kill you.
Here, LEADLIGHT introduces an RPG flavor into the mix; you obtain items and clothing which affect your abilities in the game. These elements helped immerse me inside the world; when you don't know what you're going to face when you go into a room, you're a little more cautious about entering it.
But despite all your caution, you are going to die in this game. There are gruesome death traps everywhere, and not all of them are spelled out for you. In a world where we praise games for being "forgiving" some might shout, "That's not fair! There was no warning you were going to kill me!"
However, in this setting, the sudden deaths adds to the sense of peril you feel. (It helps that after you die, there is an option to Undo to the moment before you hit the trap.)
And for all our boasting about modern IF parsers and their ability to understand complex commands, Mr. Clarke makes the 2-word parser your ally, helping simplify puzzles that might have become unwieldy if given more options.
There were a couple places I got stuck on (and were not referenced to in the hint guide--in particular, (Spoiler - click to show)I feel bad that I had to kill a traumatized girl to get her ribbon; if there was an alternative solution, I didn't see it). But these spots were later in the game. With judicious use of the three save spots, I never found myself locked into a situation I couldn't escape.
LEADLIGHT walks a fine line. On the one hand, there's not a lot of deep characterization or background going on. It's gory in the way I imagine slasher films are. And the "survival" aspect has you dealing out mindless death at the pace you might associate with an FPS.
On the other hand, there are a smattering of interesting choices you can make within the game, such as (Spoiler - click to show)killing the Dancer, which seem to demand a second play if only to see how those choices change the outcome.
It's the perfect Halloween treat--perfect for a night when you want some creepy thrills. I encourage any fan of ANCHORHEAD or THEATRE to try this one.
(PS -- If you download the full package that comes with the IFComp 2010 collection, you'll be treated to a handsomely-illustrated manual and spiffy hint sheet that took me back to the days of Sierra Online adventure games.)
ROGUE is a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi trek that'll keep you coming back for more.
Normally when I play IF, I play to get through the story. And often, IF is streamlined to that end: the rooms you encounter and the people you talk to and the objects you find are all designed to either get you "in" to the story (through atmosphere and object descriptions) or get you to the end of the story.
ROGUE's mission areas are one of the few instances I've seen in IF where you can plunk around for a long, enjoyable time, not doing anything to further the plot (if you desire). In other words, ROGUE's mission areas act as a minigame, and a darn fun one at that.
You can play an infinite amount of missions, because they're procedurally generated. But they're not lame missions, no--each world you're beamed to has its own fully-realized character, whether it's a cybernetic city or a series of grassy fields.
When you're done with a mission, you return with all kinds of crazy loot, resulting in kooky commentary from the doctor about the booty. Oh, yeah, and you get money, too, which means you can buy things from the store. Delivery to your, uh, "home" is automatic; once you've bought something, return to your house and see the awesome alien junk you've acquired!
The ability to buy all the store's random merchandise and play the missions at your leisure, without being required to do anything to advance the plot--heck, without being *penalized* for not advancing the plot--delighted me. Absolutely delighted me.
I also enjoyed the unconventional setup of ROGUE. It starts in a prison. I was expecting it to go 1984, but then I (Spoiler - click to show)wind up a lab experiment. I was expecting it to go (Spoiler - click to show)PORTAL, but then suddenly I'm roaming around like a (Spoiler - click to show)TOMB RAIDER with access to the Home Shopping Network. Then things go kablooie and now I feel like I'm driving through (Spoiler - click to show)DIE HARD. And that ending? (Spoiler - click to show)What is this, THE PRESTIGE meets TEMERAIRE? It was wonderful to have my expectations swept aside in such fun ways.
I do have one complaint, though, and it almost made me take off a star.
Dr. Sliss' cursing.
I understand this game has a subversive sense of humor. And yes, parts of Dr. Sliss' questionaire raise an eyebrow. But in my mind, the main bulk of the game felt "PG," so encountering such strong language in the finale felt really REALLY jarring to me. It didn't fit the tone of the rest of the game.
Plus, while I know IF is generally made By Adults, For Adults...the whole scenario has a Bruce Coville/ARTEMIS FOWL kind of vibe that I think middle-school kids would get a kick out of. I would have loved to've played this game as a kid, and I know there are a lot of parents and children out there today who'd have fun playing through this together. With all kindness, I invite the author to consider editing out that language in a post-comp release.
Even if that never changes, I highly recommend ROGUE OF THE MULTIVERSE. You'll love the alien cultures, you'll love Sliss, you'll love the rip-roarin' finale, and you'll love taggin' random items for booty. It's a blast.