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Excellent Z-code sequel arrives after 31 years, December 21, 2020
(.z3 version reviewed - also available on vintage computers)
It has been 31 years since the classic ZX Spectrum game "Retarded Creatures and Caverns" arrived and now John Wilson has finally made a sequel, this time in Inform 6 using the PunyInform library so that it can be published as z-code for modern IF-players as well as the retro-community. There are still only a few PunyInform games out there, and I have only played a few before this. My impression is, that PunyInform maintains the "good parser feel" of Inform without sacrificing something crucial. The only "speciality" seems to be, that you cannot UNDO. However, in this game you are not told what is inside a container when you open it. You must SEARCH it (or LOOK IN it) if you want to know. This was the default behaviour of earlier PunyInform versions but could be changed by the author.
Back to the game:
Once again we follow Algy as he returns to the castle some 30 years later to gain gold and glory. There are several references to the first game but you do not need to have played it to play this. Still, I would recommend that you play the accessible Adventuron version of the previous game first, as it is a good game and it has a decent parser (not all Adventuron games have such a good parser - perhaps Adventuron has been improved significantly over the years). With this sequel, John Wilson has captured the feeling of returning to a place many years after, which adds something to the game.
Return to the Castle (RttC) is a relaxed comedy (fun but not hilarious) with some good puzzles of medium difficulty, which is what I prefer. Everything was well done and I enjoyed RttC very much.
The difficulty level has often a big impact on how much I enjoy a game and therefore also the rating. To me, the difficulty level was just right. Others may find it too easy or too hard. However, a walkthrough is now available so everyone should be able to finish this game. Recommended to all puzzle lovers.