Savor

by Ed Nobody

Suspense/horror
2020

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Number of Reviews: 6
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing game about curses and memory but with UI issues, October 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Okay, so I think I spent more time on this game than almost any other, but about half of it wasnít playing.

This game uses immersive text, graphics and sound to tell a story of a man with amnesia and a curse who meets another man with the same. Together the two of you must discover a cure to your awful curse.

The overall storyline seems interesting, but this game is inaccessible in many, many ways.

Several other reviewers online have already talked about the slow text (including someone who screenshotted a tweet of mine about slow text), but I still want to talk about it a bit.

Slow text has essentially one use: in short, mostly linear contemplative games like Congee. And even there, Congee loads the whole thing at once, instead of the typewriter effect thatís distracting.

Long games with slow text can be excruciatingly painful to read. But at least you can get through them.

But if you have to replay a game frequently, then being able to quickly click back to where you came from is essential.

This game is full of frequent deaths, is very long, uses slow typewriter text and has disabled the UNDO button. It does let you save, but to know that you have to click on the Ďcontrolsí button at the beginning of the game to learn that L brings up the load screen, and then you have to guess that you save at the load screen.

These decision werenít just casual decisions by the author. They are completely baked in. I often go through and modify game code to disable slow text (thatís how I played Lux two years ago, and loved it!) This gameís code absolutely embraces the slow text. Itís baked into every phrase. Itís cooked into a macro hidden deep in the javascript (not the gameís in-Twinery javascript sheet, but the html file itself). Disabling that macro gets rid of all in-game links, as those are timed to appear when the text is done. Restoring the undo button doesnít restore the picture, just a blank box.

After about three hours of trimming it down, I got it to work. I raced through the game, clicking and feeling euphoria. And then I realized that the main mechanic the game relies on is broken.

According to the walkthrough, if you pick up books youíre supposed to be able to Ďrewindí at key decision points. But that didnít happen for me.

I looked at the games Twinery code, and even this is obfuscated. All of the structure is hidden because boxes have generic names (like passage 1-1) and are lined up in exact geometrical rows to hide the overall structure. But I finally found the correct passage, and it has code for the rewind to display, but it doesnít work.

I picked through the rectangles, trying to glean the story. It seems to me that this game is about (Spoiler - click to show)vampires, which explains (Spoiler - click to show)the reaction to garlic and holy water, and the lack of a reflection.

As a final note, I saw that the author had included a secret debug code accessible by typing D. That suggests to me that the author found his game too tedious to play through repeatedly, and ended up using the debug to test it.

Iíve seen a few other people do that in this comp. I really recommend playing through your game from start to finish the way that you anticipate others will throughout the development period.

Also, another tip thatís been very helpful for me: start beta testing before youíre finished with your tricky coding, so that people can give feedback on the concept. My first version of Alias the Magpie that I sent to JJ Guest for testing was pretty crappy, but I wanted to see if the idea worked. You can even just shop the idea around before implementing it.

In any case, it took serious programming chops to create this game, and Iím impressed by the authorís abilities.

-Polish: Has several errors.
+Descriptiveness: Is very descriptive.
-Interactivity: Very frustrating.
-Emotional impact: The UI frustrations made it difficult to get invested.
-Would I play again? Not without several changes.