(played online with the old clunky WebRunner for Adrift games - refresh your browser!)
First a heads-up: Notice the command VOCAB. It lists 12 words. These verbs/prepositions are more than necessary to complete the game, when applied on the right objects / directions. So even though a few of the commands are not common nowadays, please look at this VOCAB list and you will find that the game isn't that hard after all.
Now on to the review, starting with a disclaimer: I beta-tested this game. I should also mention that this is a VERY short game but if you don't use the VOCAB command, it may take a lot of time to solve it. It can theoretically be solved in seven moves though.
You play the role of a German tank driver during WWII and you are approaching Kidney Ridge when you are attacked and all your crew mates are killed. You must now escape and flee the area. I must warn you that the descriptions of your dead crew mates are a bit detailed.
If you want excellent puzzles, this game isn't really of much interest. However, if you find the detailed descriptions of all the machinery and weapons interesting, I can tell you that it is well researched and described.
You may also find a challenge in getting 100 points as you can complete it with as little as 60 points. I managed to get 95 points. And you can disable the turn counter if you think it is too frustrating to die over and over until you find a way out of the tank.
An interesting game if you are in the mood for a short game from a different perspective.
DISCLAIMER: I beta-tested this game months before release but not the final version. After ParserComp ended, a post-comp release became available from the ADRIFT site (www.adrift.co).
I always rate the last version I've played. So this review is based on the third release (2nd bugfix) during ParserComp 2022.
In this game you have to spend the night in a haunted house due to a bet. Roughly, this game is about hunting and killing five monsters without getting yourself killed.
The parser is decent most of the time though I noticed a few problems such as different responses when the player uses the word "it" instead of the noun. However, "it" seems to be working in most cases. Other easy improvements would be to make the books in the library be referred to by their titles in addition to "leather book" and their full 'names' such as "witch hunt book" as well as "witch hunt", "witch" or "witch book" which should have worked too.
The descriptions are thorough but not too long and gives a good atmosphere, especially when the player is hunted by a monster. As my mother tongue is not English it may be that I overlook some grammatical errors etc.
Cruelty rating: Tough
You can get in unwinnable situations if you release a monster and meet it in the wrong place without the items needed to kill it so save often. However, it will normally be obvious when this happens.
The puzzles were overall fine and fits with the setting. A few of them stand out by being better whereas some of the others are "well known classics" and hence not so original.
The gameplay is fun and the monsters can almost be killed in any order. A few niggles: I think there are too many doors to open (most are not important to the gameplay) and the implementation could be better. In this 3rd release (i.e. 2nd bugfix) I saw no serious problems though.
DISCLAIMER: I beta-tested this game and I have a passion for old school games UK style, especially games by Larry Horsfield (found my way back to IF through Axe of Kolt in 2016)
I have come to realize that this kind of game is only for a limited group of parser players. The big emphasis on hidden objects (LOOK UNDER and BEHIND, X WALL etc) is not everyone's cup of tea. It has some advanced puzzles too but this is a significant part of the game.
This is the fourth sci-fi game where you take on the role of Mike Erlin. This time you have to investigate a research base where the crew has gone missing. There is an inventory limit but you will soon find a rucksack so it is hardly a problem. I think the game would be even better without e.g. inventory limits but it doesn't really bother me as you will quickly find the remedy.
I think that the parser is pretty good, though there may be a few bugs/guess-the-verb issues I haven't noticed, which can happen in such a big game.
I think the writing gives a thrilling atmosphere. It isn't world class literature but that isn't the point. After all this is a game that is here to entertain.
Cruelty rating: Cruel
If we take the zarfian cruelty scale literally, I would say that the game is cruel as you can proceed without having found all objects and then you can't get back without those objects so save often (multiple save files). Then it is probably not a big issue but you should be aware that this might happen.
There are a several good puzzles in this one. But you should know that finding objects might be 20% of the puzzles. Besides examine, you must search, look under, behind and move stuff.
This is a game where story and puzzles go very well together so the final product is better than the individual parts. But as mentioned at the top, this game is not everyone's cup of tea as finding objects (LOOK UNDER, BEHIND etc) is a big part of the game.
PS: During ParserComp 2022 a very buggy version was available for online play. Fortunately, these serious bugs have been fixed. Looking forward to a better web player for Adrift - I hope...
Alien Diver is a very untraditional IF game, which combines some standard IF conventions with a card/dice game. Thus many things are randomized and thus different each time you play.
The backstory is fairly simple: On a scouting mission you crash-land on an ocean planet. Even though your spaceship can travel underwater, it must first be repaired. Before you can do that you must first find your ship, which you floated away from while you were unconscious. You must also collect four coloured fragments before you can repair your ship.
You must do all this within some time limits. Your ship is slowly being destroyed by the ocean if you don't repair it soon, and you may run out of oxygen soon too. There are ways to get more oxygen, but to my knowledge, there is nothing to prevent the ship from being destroyed, unless you manage to repair it.
So the gameplay consists of you racing around the ocean, trying to find your ship and trying to obtain these coloured fragments, while avoiding deadly sea creatures.
The coloured fragments can be obtained from the many alien cubes scattered around the ocean. A cube can only be used once. You can "roll dice" to try to and match the power number of a cube. If you fail you get a single crafting fragment (different from the coloured fragments). If you succeed you get three crafting fragments and you can then extract a blank card from the cube. The cube is then inactive and cannot be used again. Whenever you extract a blank card, the extracted blank card has a sea creature symbol. If you encounter a sea creature you can play this card to help you, though you can also attack it in a more traditional way.
But you might want to save your blank cards for something more important. If you find an active cube and you have a blank card, you can craft a card. The crafted card will then have the same power number as the cube you crafted it on. Again the cube becomes inactive.
You can then play a crafted card next time you find an active cube, though the power number of the card must match the power number of the active cube. If it does, you obtain a coloured fragment with the same colour as the cube. You must collect four different coloured fragments before you can repair your ship.
The built-in map feature of ADRIFT 5 is crucial for this game, since the map would be a pain to map because of the many curved connections. Thus it is highly recommended to download the game if you have a Windows computer (the map of the online runner is not very flexible and on Android you cannot display the map). However, the map is not randomized, so it should be possible to map it if you want to.
It is hard to explain but this game is a lot of fun. The difficulty level is not high, but you may need to restart a few times until you have settled on a good strategy.
If you don't mind strategy elements in IF games, I can highly recommed this one.
The Fortress of Fear (FoF) is the 4th episode of The Adventures of Alaric Blacmoon. On the other hand, it was the first Alaric Blackmoon game to be written with ADRIFT, so I was quite curious if it had the same quality as the previous episodes. I think it has and overall FoF is a very fine game.
Without going into too much detail, Alaric must get to the bell tower of a big fortress, which is under siege of an evil sorcerer. The sorcerer has slaughtered most of the good staff of the fortress so there are ghosts everywhere requiring objects to let you pass. In addition, they might help you, if you help them. You will also meet a few people who are still alive, and in the end, you will of course face the evil sorcerer.
The game has the same appearance and feel as previous episodes, which is good. As usual, it is necessary to search, look under and look behind objects whenever it makes sense, to ensure you do not miss an object. The puzzles range from easy to difficult but always logical.
The player should be aware of the command "timeoff" though. This is a command used to turn off real time elements. I don't like real time elements in IF-games but since they can be turned off it is not a problem at all.
If you become stuck, the first place to look for inspiration is the VOCAB command, which gives you a list of verbs understood by the game. Typing help gives you the e-mail address of the author, which I did use more than once since the game is very big and I believe most people will become stuck at some point. I encourage everyone playing Larry Horsfield's games to ask for help in this way instead of just giving up, since his games have a lot to offer. This game is no exception.
The Spectre of Castle Coris is the sequel to the Axe of Kolt, and just as its predecessor it is a modern improvement of an old spectrum adventure. This time Alaric Blackmoon has to solve the mystery of a spectre, which terrorizes the town surrounding the castle Coris. The game can roughly be divided into two parts: First Alaric must gather whatever he needs in his quest outside the castle. Afterwards he must enter the castle and free the town of the evil spectre.
The game is rather big but contains a built-in map, which is well-structured and very convenient (except when playing online – download the game instead). There is a nice use of text colors, which gives life to the overall fine descriptions. The implementation is very good and rarely if ever is guess-the-verb an issue. Anyway a vocabulary command is implemented.
The puzzles range from easy to hard and the player must remember to examine and search everything as well as ask the right questions. Note that the game distinguishes between “ASK [person] ABOUT [topic]” and “ASK [person] FOR [object]”.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable game, which just reaches the five-star mark.
The Axe of Kolt is what text adventures is all about. Set in a standard fantasy setting with wizards, dwarfs, witches etc., the game is huge but divided into four parts so that it never become unmanageable. Though the built-in map cannot be attributed to the author (it is a standard feature of ADRIFT games), it adds significantly to the playability of such a large game, which boasts a little more than 200 locations. (NB: The online game does not provide the same map functionality as the downloadable versions.)
The writing does the job, creating an exciting atmosphere. The systematic use of text colors adds to this. The game is tough though. Everything should be examined and searched. The puzzles range from easy to hard, and most puzzles are fair, though there were one or two puzzles, which were a bit farfetched near the end. Luckily the implementation is good and there is a VOCAB command for each part, inspiring the player when stuck with a list of relevant verbs. If everything fails the player can send an e-mail to the author (provided when typing help). All in all, this game is a very rewarding experience and reaches the five star rating.
For anyone who likes puzzle-heavy old-school text adventures, this is highly recommended.