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About the Story
"Walking away from a picnic, you are suddenly caught in a country storm. You must protect a bridge from being destroyed. An ultra-linear game." [--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]
1st Place, Inform Division - First Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1995)
A deceptively simple premise: You get stuck out in the rain. This is one difficult little game, made of interlocking time-sensitive parts with ample opportunity to get things irrevocably wrong. Consists of two acts, one before and one during the all-important and landscape-transforming downpour. Well-polished prose. Excellent building of tension. Odd and twisty map. Very satisfying.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 8
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For me the main obstacle was that certain puzzles require you to have a good idea of the 3-D topography of the game world. I'm not very good at constructing that kind of thing in my head, and the game, although decently clear, was not very good at helping me, and so there were several key actions that I never would have guessed without a walkthrough.
The parser is also limited, but that didn't really give me trouble.
What the game does do exceptionally well is build a sense of isolation and real dread out of what would seem to be an innocent scenario. The writing is excellent, not just in the sense of describing sunsets (though it does that too), but in that it maintains a subtle and seamless emotional tone throughout. Your friends are just across the river, but you nevertheless get the feeling that there is something serious at stake -- much more so than in most games where you are jumping off buildings and saving the world and so on.
My advice is to go in committed, spend some time, and try your best, but look at a walkthrough before you start to hate the thing. The solutions to the puzzles are satisfying but not worth banging your head against the wall for.
Much in this game is very good, but it has some really serious flaws that prevent me from rating it higher than three stars. Most obviously, the game is just too damn hard. I'm sure some people have solved it without any assistance, but those people must be veritable IF wizards. I got perhaps a third of the way through the game (Spoiler - click to show)(I managed to find the key, and take a nap in the Cave after I grew tired), but pretty much had to use a walk-thru for everything after that...and even with a walk-thru, I STILL found it somewhat difficult to solve! At no time is it even remotely apparent what the goal of the game is supposed to be, and thus to suggest that the later puzzles are under-clued is to be generous. You basically just have to do stuff that makes no sense, until it adds up to something that kinda does. But even then, the ending is very confusing. (Spoiler - click to show)Apparently, the goal was to save the bridge. And yet after accomplishing that goal, one gets the impression one's friends have located you, and are crossing the bridge...only to suddenly find one's self back in the Cave..WTF? And your friends are still there the next morning? I guess its a campsite?
The game is well-written in many respects, and the game contains a great (non-verbal) NPC, but the game just doesn't make enough sense to really live up to its potential. Its very difficult anyway, and that great difficulty is enhanced by a peculiarly vague and not very consequential goal (and a needlessly ambiguous ending). I really wanted to like this game, and part of me did, but overall, its tragically flawed. Yet its too close to the mark to warrant a rating below three.
While the game features a winning non-human NPC and lovely descriptions of the scenery, the actual gameplay is awful. The goal of the game is unguessable, and many of the puzzles are time sensitive -- time-sensitive meaning four or five turns, sometimes -- so that you will find yourself dying and reloading, dying and reloading. I found the beginning of the game relatively do-able, finding items and using them. However, after a fair amount of game play, I discovered that in the first couple of turns I had done something which made the game unwinnable; I would never have known if I hadn't looked it up. I later used a found item on something to solve a problem, and it didn't work -- (Spoiler - click to show)I tried to move the boulder with the spade by placing it beneath the boulder and "moving boulder with spade", which did not work. The solution is to "pry boulder with spade". simply because I failed to use on specific word, even though I was clearly using language to perform the operation that was the solution to the puzzle. The game is simply too unforgiving and rather pointless. The ending makes no sense whatsoever, and the one relationship in the game -- with the NPC -- is developed and then, for no reason, completely abandoned without explanation.
For all that, the game is rather short, features some unexplained imagery which appears to be part of an undeveloped plot, has a tiny map, and features puzzles which can only be solved by persistent and random, pointless experimentation to such degree that the game appears hostile to its audience.
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