Reviews by Denk

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Beyond the Tesseract, by David Lo

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Very original game from 1983, February 20, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: Custom system, inform

This is what you get if you cross a Scott Adams adventure with an abstract math/physics adventure. The parser is primitive but consistent (verb+noun, only 4 letters of each word matters) and fast (running an Atari ST emulator at 32MHz - at 8MHz the text is slightly delayed). However, a z-code version exists.

Most puzzles you don't need to understand 100% to solve, as you will usually have an idea of what to do. For instance, you may come across a Riemann Zeta Integral. If I ever learned about it, I have forgotten about it, but knowing it was an integral was sufficient to have a hunch of what to do so I did manage to solve the corresponding puzzle.

For me, the difficulty level was just right but I think some of the optional puzzles I could never have solved without some knowledge of e.g. superconductors and electromagnetic fields. Luckily, being an electrical engineer helped me a lot here. However, if you allow yourself to google the concepts you come across, you will probably have a chance of solving all puzzles anyway.

Overall, a highly enjoyable and original game.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 7/10)
Primitive but consistent, fast and has several synonyms for verbs. My only caveat on the Atari ST is that there is apparently no LOOK / REDESCRIBE command so if you want to see the location description again, you must leave the room and enter it again.

Atmosphere (Rating: 8/10)
The surreal atmosphere is very convincing. The writing is terse as can be expected from a game which originally was an 8-bit game.

Cruelty (Rating: Merciful)
I don't think you can make the game unwinnable.

Puzzles (Rating: 9/10)
Some fun, fair puzzles, though the perceived difficulty will depend very much on your scientific background, thus it may seem unfair to some people.

Overall (Rating: 9/10)
A surprisingly fun game, considering it was designed in 1983. Some scientific background may be needed to enjoy it fully.

Radio Tower, by brojman

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Nice cliffhanger in custom engine, January 27, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: Custom system

I played version 1.1. The game has been updated later. This game is more an unfinished demo than a complete game. It ends quickly with a cliff-hanger where only a small portion of the plot is revealed with the message: "To be continued in the next one." The game has what is sometimes called a "limited parser" which means that the game deliberately only understands a few but general verbs. On the other hand, it tells you upfront which verbs are understood.

In most locations the following verbs are understood: "Inspect" (instead of examine), "Take" (get not understood), "Drop", "Go north"(south/east etc. cannot be abbreviated) and "Use". Later on, you can also "attack", "interact" etc. but the parser is not traditional. For instance, you must type ATTACK WEAPON (replace WEAPON with the weapon you want to use).

I managed to get to the cliff-hanger ending mentioned above. You can also arrive at some quick endings but the one mentioned above is probably the main ending. Even though the game is unfinished and some objects etc. are mentioned but not implemented yet, the game was very intriguing.

The user interface + graphics & map was very impressive with rain and lightning in the background. On the other hand, the parser was extremely primitive but well defined so it wasn't a big problem though abbreviations would have been nice. Another drawback is that you cannot save and restore your position.

Having a limited parser is a fair design choice as the understood verbs are revealed. However, even for a limited parser, it is very primitive. You can't just type N but you have to type GO NORTH. Also, you don't have a single letter for examine, you have to write INSPECT OBJECT each time (replace OBJECT with the noun). Several natural combinations of verbs and nouns were not implemented but gave an error message instead of a generic, meaningful response.

The writing was very good and combined with the multimedia (rain and flashes and a status-line where your health is shown), this was highly atmospheric.

Cruelty rating: Tough
You can't save and restore which becomes frustrating if you want to see the other endings. Combined with an inventory limit of four (please increase this in the final game) objects this really needs to be fixed in the final game. But I am not sure if the game can become unwinnable. Probably.

I didn't solve any brilliant puzzles but those I found on my way to the ending were quite standard but not bad.

I would very much like to play the game when it has been completed. For now it was a taste of what can be expected, which was very intriguing. I hope the parser will be improved some.

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