Ratings and Reviews by Denk

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Cave of Wonders, by Campbell Wild
One of the first Adrift games - too unforgiving but well done, May 23, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: Adrift 3.8

This game is an old school treasure hunt written by Campbell Wild, the creator of Adrift. If you expect a lot of verbose, beautiful prose you will be disappointed, as this is primarily a game, not a story. But it is a game with a lot of good puzzles which are (usually) well implemented. I think the main problem of this game is, that it is extremely easy to put the game in an "unwinnable" state and you won't know it until much later. I started over and over again, because I just wanted to beat it, but in the end I had enough of restarting when I reached 620 points out of 1000. Even for 1999 (the publication year), this game is more cruel than most games (for comparison Winter Wonderland (IFComp 1999 winner) could not be put in an "unwinnable" state). With a bit more thought this could have been a really good game. No testers are mentioned, which kind of explains it. Even the technically best authors need testers to find the bugs and design flaws in their games.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 7/10)
ADRIFT 3.8 parser is nothing special but in most cases it wasn't a problem. A few times, I thought I was encountering a guess-the-verb situation but I simply tried an alternative solution which was not accounted for. So this isn't really a parser issue but a design issue.

Atmosphere (Rating: 6/10)
The descriptions are sufficiently detailed for a puzzler like this, but could be improved.

Cruelty (Rating: Cruel)
As mentioned above, it is far too easy to end up in an "unwinnable" situation without knowing it. Many contemporary games did not have this problem in 1999.

Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
The puzzles are pretty good, with a bit of humour thrown in.

Overall (Rating: 6/10)
I enjoyed it quite a lot for a while, but in the end the constant need to restart or load a very old save became too frustrating.

The Life of a Lone Electron, by Gareth Pitchford and Scott Denyer

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzly comedy in the early 90s UK hobby style (PAW / DAAD), May 19, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: PAW, DAAD

I was intrigued by the title of this game in the 90s Adventure Probe but couldn't play it because I did not have a ZX Spectrum. Now, many years later, a C64 version is available (made with DAAD) so I finally get to play this one.

In this comedy text adventure you control the electron Edmond as he has crashed his orbital in the city of Electronz. The game is a puzzle fest seen from the perspective of electrons, where protons and neutrons are buildings and a graviton is a dog breed etc. So a lot of funny references to beginner particle physics. I am certainly a beginner in that field. Some of the puzzles are based on light physics or word-play but don't expect the physics to be close to the real world. For instance, Edmond is called an electron and starts out having positive charge, which makes him a positron and therefore antimatter but he explodes if he touches antimatter, not the other way around. But such details are not important as this is a comedy and should not be taken too seriously.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 6/10)
I played the DAAD version, not sure how close it was to the PAW version. Some untraditional choices but the author makes up for it by guiding the player in several situations. For instance, there were sort of "containers" in the game but you couldn't "PUT OBJECT IN OBJECT". Instead you might EMPTY OBJECT IN OBJECT or FILL OBJECT WITH SOMETHING, stuff like that. But the author tells the player upfront about the commands CHARGE and EMPTY and the fact that SEARCH and EXAMINE are not the same. Some guess-the-verb situations along the way, which probably is unavoidable for such a "big" game, considering it is an 8-bit single-load game.

Atmosphere (Rating: 7/10)
Funny writing which fits the game theme.

Cruelty (Rating: Tough)
I noticed a few places where the game can become unwinnable but it will in most cases be obvious that what you did was irreversible.

Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
The game is crammed with puzzles, and there were several good, fun puzzles. A few of them involved word-play but they were solvable to me except for on one, despite that English is not my mother tongue. As with most old text adventures, finding the objects are part of the game so remember to search and examine everything.

Overall (Rating: 8/10)
Everything considered, this is a good old-fashioned puzzle fest with good puzzles and some funny writing.

The Magic Circle, by Patrick Crosmun

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Very short with 1.5 puzzles, May 18, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: Inform

This surreal sci-fi game is very short and straight forward except the main puzzle but it would be a spoiler to say more.

Fine for a 5 minutes diversion.

Andromeda Chained, by Aster Fialla
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my father's long, long legs, by michael lutz
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Etiolated Light, by Lassiter W.
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Batman 66, by Isabel Azeredo
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Repeat the Ending, by Drew Cook
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Aesthetics Over Plot, by Rohan
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