Reviews by Denk
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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.
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