Reviews by AKheon

mystery

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I Contain Multitudes, by Wonaglot

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Mystery somewhere at sea, October 18, 2021
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: Quest, parser-based, IF Comp 2021, horror, mystery

I Contain Multitudes is a parser-based game by Wonaglot, published in 2021. You are an engineer on a steam boat. A murder has happened, and the captain covertly enlists you to try to figure out what exactly is going on before the ship reaches its destination.

Being a Quest-game, the gameplay is a type of a hybrid between parser- and choice-based systems. You can move around and do various interactions by either typing or clicking on highlighted objects, and you also have a map. This makes the game quite comfortable to play... at least when it's working as intended.

The game world is like a small sandbox with some timed events as well as characters who move around. Besides basic exploration and information gathering, one major gameplay feature is that you have four different masks which you can wear to subtly influence other characters' reactions. Overall, it's the most complex and ambitious Quest-game I've played so far, and it deserves props for trying to do something unique.

Unfortunately, it could've still used some more polish and testing. The general implementation is spotty: not everything that is critical for completing the game is highlighted, which forces you to keep switching between clicking and typing instead of being able to comfortably choose your playstyle. Some items are unnecessarily difficult to find, for instance (Spoiler - click to show)the metal key inside the Walnut Desk is tricky to notice since the only time the game even mentions it exists is in the room description while the desk is open. Some characters seem to have little dialogue, with nothing to say about some topics that they should know or care about. The entrance to the Bridge is to the west, but you go there by walking east. And so on... In the end, I had to use a walkthrough to figure out some of the game's logic and be able to successfully complete it.

The writing is something of a highlight. It's imaginative and expressive, and it creates a solid 19th century and slightly steampunk-ish feeling. Although, like the gameplay, it too has some unpolished spots here and there, such as a few typos.

As far as the use of multimedia is concerned, (Spoiler - click to show)the game utilizes graphics and audio during the finale sequence in a way that works really well for creating otherworldly suspense.

The game should take at least an hour on your first time through, and the multiple different story outcomes may give it some replay value too. My biggest gripe with it is the slight roughness around the edges, which I hope will be fixed in a post-Comp edition. But even as it is right now, the game should provide some enjoyment for someone with a taste for a mystery/horror game at sea.


Detective, by Matt Barringer

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The flimsiest of detective adventures, September 11, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: mystery, parser-based, Inform

Detective is a fairly short and simple parser-based game made by Matt Barringer in 1993. You play as a detective who is ordered by the Chief to solve a crime. To do this, you progress through a series of rooms and (optionally) interact with various clues and items scattered around. There is a score system, and you are awarded points for picking things up and finding new areas. Eventually the plot thickens as (Spoiler - click to show)you find out that it could be a group of vigilantes orchestrating the murders. There's also a werewolf, or something.

Apparently the author was only 12 years old when he made this game. Unfortunately, it shows, as the game is rife with various types of implementation and writing errors. Besides the main character and a few items you can pick up, essentially nothing exists in the game world. There are no puzzles, and almost none of the items do anything beyond giving you some points. While the game is entirely linear, the room layout is rather confusing, with a lot of dead ends, one-way exits and even an instance or two of rooms seemingly overlapping. The room descriptions are also misleading, with mentions of items even after you have picked them up. All of this makes the whole adventure seem nonsensical at best.

The narrator voice is slightly smarmy in a very pre-teen sort of a way, regularly breaking the fourth wall and sometimes mildly teasing the player if they - by trial-and-error - accidentally enter rooms which are dead ends or contain a random game over. It can be slightly amusing at first, but it also leaves the whole storytelling aspect of the game very unconvincing.

So, is there something this game does right? Yes! The ending where (Spoiler - click to show)the killer is caught and the "Jurrasic Park" (sic) theme song starts playing in your head actually made me laugh out loud. It was suitably uplifting and somehow made the whole short trip feel worth it, if only barely.

So, if you have 10 to 15 minutes to kill and wish to embark on the flimsiest of detective adventures, this game isn't a bad pick.



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