Hawk the Hunter

by Jonathan B. Himes


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Fun for a while but could use an extra layer of polish, April 11, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Quest

Edit: Since a serious bug in this game has been identified, the bug can easily be avoided, which is why I have revised my review completely. The bug is triggered if you type "SCRIPT ON", so don't do that. Further more, version 4.0 of the game has been released, which is the version I am reviewing. In the time of writing, version 3 is on the Spring Thing site, whereas version 4.0 can be found on www.textadventures.co.uk (there is a link to the newest version from this IFDB page)
This IF fantasy RPG made with quest is fun for a while, though it could use some more polish, which makes it a bit frustrating at times.

The game is a sequel to the movie "Hawk the Slayer" and most of the text is well written. Once in a while, I was in doubt if I had missed something or the game simply was referring to something which happened in the movie. I think it would be good to provide a bit more backstory for those who haven't seen the movie.

I also think that the player should be told from the beginning that they should type HELP since the HELP contains some information the player couldn't know, e.g. type INCREASE STRENGTH to increase you strength etc.

The game has stats and a combat system which is for the most part well implemented. However, if you killed a character (let's call him John), the game simply says "You can see John". It would be better if the game told us somehow that John was dead, e.g. "you see the body of John" or something like that.

Other examples of lack of polish:
1. You might not be able to pick up an object because you are carrying some other object. But if you drop the object you are carrying and pick up the objects in the right order, you can carry them anyway.

2. An NPC has an object you want and encourages you to trade, e.g. rare weapons. I tried to type several weapons I had, I tried typing GIVE <object> TO <npc>, and I tried to type SAY <object> and I tried to type a meaningless command. No matter what I type, I am given the same answer: "Just move along then. Got work to do!" As a consequence, you do not know if you are writing the command incorrectly or if it is the object he doesn't like. Since he is asking for weapons, there should at least be some explanation why he does not like the weapon you want to trade.

3. At some point I enter a certain location and are attacked by a very strong enemy. An error-message occurs:
"You are dead!
Error running script: Only one wait can be in progress at a time."

I enjoyed playing for a while but I did not manage to get many points on my own (30 points out of 360). There are some hints on textadventures.co.uk which may bring you further. In the long run the game couldn't hold my interest, since I quickly got stuck. For instance, I never found a torch so I couldn't really visit all the dark locations.

Difficulty level is of course a matter of taste. I regard myself as a medium IF player and I think I should not get stuck so early in a game. If I get the feeling that I will have to rely on a walkthrough for most of the game, I usually quit.

To sum up, this is a decent game, which could use some more polish. It is a bit too difficult for my taste but some of you might like the challenge. But be prepared to save and restore often.

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JonQ, April 10, 2020 - Reply
Denk, this was a fair and helpful review. Thanks! I think most of these issues were already resolved with version 4.0 (I hope the mirror sites reflect these updates by now). So I do hope you will try again!

I'll take these one by one:
1. If you try to pry or break a certain object you get no response: Yes, that was fixed!
2. You reach a chamber with an apparently powerful NPC but there is no message at all when you enter the chamber: Well, he's instantly hostile, and definitely attacks...
3. If you attack the above mentioned NPC, he does not fight back and it seems as if you bother to attack him approximately 2000 times, you could kill him: He does attack, but yes, it takes more than brute force in this game. If NPCs are too powerful, then probably you need help...
4. This seems to be a problem with all unfriendly NPCs that they don't fight back and that it may take 1000 or more turns to kill them with the weapon I have found (rusty axe). 'Rusty axe' says it all. I'm not sure which NPC's you mean...
4. In a few locations, you can enter the location but you cannot leave again. Seems that the game might have become unwinnable.I've checked every location, don't see this anywhere.
5. For instance, somewhere you can apparently enter a maze but you cannot leave the way you came and if you try to drop objects to map the maze, the objects just disappear with no explanation.The maze is not the stereotypical one, but it has some puzzles and surprises.

Also, in version 4.0, everything is implemented (and hopefully interesting!), except for ironic exceptions.

In short, I'm deeply thankful for your feedback, and I hope you'll explore this realm again. It definitely has a load of puzzles and is not primarily a hack and slash game. It's riddling.
Denk, April 10, 2020 - Reply
Thanks for letting me know. I will definitely try again. However, it sounds strange that you say that characters fight back, when I experienced the opposite. It makes me wonder if I am using the wrong version of Quest. I am using the newest version. I will post a new comment here, once I have tried version 4, and if things are working, I will update my review.
JonQ, April 10, 2020 - Reply
Glad you will try again! I meant version 4.0 of my game. You guys convinced me to create more Hints (a sort-of walk-thru), so I will post that list on the game's homepage in Quest. Since it's a large game, I think it's a reasonable request! I hope you have more fun next time(s).
Denk, April 10, 2020 - Reply
I think I found the problem! I go directly to the Ruffians Clearing. I am attacked. If I type "SCRIPT ON" Ruff Ian stops attacking. I wait for several rounds, but Ruff Ian does not attack. Then I type "SCRIPT OFF", then Ruff Ian begins to attack again. So it seems that the game does not work properly when SCRIPT is ON. That's a shame since I like to do transcripts when I play, but nothing critical. However, when the game begins, you should inform the players that the game does not work properly if they type "SCRIPT ON".
JonQ, April 10, 2020 - Reply
Okay, thank you! How strange! I'll check the Quest forums to see if there's anything else I can do about that. I hadn't heard about that problem with Quest. Sorry for the inconvenience, that is indeed a bummer. Again, thanks for the tip.
Denk, April 11, 2020 - Reply
Hi JonQ, I have now revised my review after playing version 4 and avoiding the "SCRIPT ON" bug.
JonQ, April 11, 2020 - Reply
Thank you, Denk! This is helpful. I appreciate your careful attention to the game and the fairness of your review.

Just to let you know: torches are described in the Main Hall, and one of the first weapons you're likely to see there (battle axe) informs you that you must increase your strength before you can pick it up (this also happens later for a crucial item, so as to train the player in what to do). Also, this info about STATs is front and center in the HINTS on the game portal in Quest.

I figured "help" was such a common thing to try that it went without saying, but what you say makes sense.

Also, I thought the direct question from the NPC you mentioned would prompt a "yes" or "no" response, but I think you are right: it needs to be more clear, so I'm adding the same yes/no prompt that I put in more dire areas.

Regarding the film (backstory): I wanted the game to stand on its own, but for you to gradually uncover the Story as you play. This unfolds as you interact, I hope, and yes, getting that NPC's item by trade leads to more clues.

Some of those issues you mention are endemic to the Quest libraries (generic to this game platform), like the slain still appearing in locations; it kind of has a comic effect, because if you LOOK at them, it will say "Oh, and he is still dead." I figured there was a reason they "hard wired" it that way, and so maybe players would get it, but perhaps it's an internal function I should polish, as you say.

Finally, version 4 has been posted for quite some time on the Festival page for download, and the "Further Hints" are there, too.

Again, thank you for the clear, precise, and invaluable feedback. Your attention is much appreciated!
Denk, April 12, 2020 - Reply
About the torch, I was under the impression that the torches in the Main Hall were just scenery since they could not be examined (the response to X TORCHES was "I can't see that."). Reading the location description again, I notice the end of the sentence: "... and doused torches hang from sconces in the corners, one of them lit by gutted flame." so perhaps I should have tried to take a torch here. Anyway, I think it would be good to say something like "One of them is lit." when you try to examine the torches, so the player knows that the torches are implemented.

About help: Many players will try to complete the game without help at first, so crucial information should not be hidden inside HELP, and this is even more the case with HINTS.

When trying to take the battle axe:
"> get axe
You need to do some push-ups (increase your strength). The battle axe can be wielded only by the stout."
I did not take this literally since I did not expect that the player could simply increase his strength by typing INCREASE STRENGTH. I expected it to happen through some action, e.g. defeat an enemy or exersise etc.

About the Spring Thing site, I just tried 5 minutes ago to download the game from the Spring Thing site and when I try it and type ABOUT, I am told that it is version 3.0. I don't know if I have to do something special to access the newest version there, but as far as I can see you get version 3.
JonQ, April 13, 2020 - Reply
Denk, I have another updated game file now, for which I went through several startup details related to the issues you raised, and along those lines tried to ensure that initial sequences are intuitive and well meshed with the Story. I tried to eliminate any elusive "I can't see that" messages on scenery I had taken for granted. I think now it will be a more rewarding experience, and the initial rooms will especially be more clear.

I just want to thank you again for giving more detailed feedback than anyone has provided me thus far. (I've been working on this almost daily for a year and a half.) There is an art to offering criticism, and you have definitely struck a tone of clear and helpful suggestions that motivates me to polish the game so that it will be enticing for players. It shows that you care about the crafting of this genre, and this goodwill kind of effort ensures that others like me will strive to create better games in future. I have found our interactions very satisfying, and in my credits, I gave you a shout-out for all the implementation advice.
JonQ, April 12, 2020 (updated April 13, 2020) - Reply
Good advice again, thank you. That makes sense about the torch, esp. when you try to LOOK (I just thought they were doused, whereas the other was lit, but still, your suggestion is better).

Yes, I see what you mean about the stats like strength. I'll see what I can do to implement that more smoothly.

I don't know why you're seeing version 3 on the festival site. I just checked like you described, and for a long time now, it has shown version 4 when you download and still does.

Again, I truly appreciate all your detailed feedback. Very sensible suggestions. Thank you, sir!
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