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Version 3
From adrift.​co
Requires an ADRIFT version 5 interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Magor Investigates.zip *
Contains Magor Investigates/MI​_v.3.blorb
Mid-Comp update (v.​3) in IFComp 2023, from the IF Archive
Requires an ADRIFT version 5 interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Magor Investigates-v.1.zip *
Contains Magor Investigates/MI​_v.1.blorb
As initially entered in IFComp 2023, from the IF Archive
Requires an ADRIFT version 5 interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
* Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.

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Magor Investigates...

by Larry Horsfield profile

Episode 4 of Adventures in the World of Alaric Blackmoon
Fantasy
2023

Web Site

(based on 12 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

Adventures In The World Of Alaric Blackmoon - Episode 4

You are Magor, court sorcerer to King Kelson Haldane, the young king of the kingdom of Hecate. You are in your chambers, having just had a herald bring the news that the king and Duke Alaric Blackmoon have arrived back from their journey to the Great Sand Sea to investigate reports of Xixon lizardmen being seen down there.

The herald also told you, most unusually, that Kelson & Alaric will be coming to see YOU instead of you having to go to the king's audience chamber and that the visit will be informal, so no bowing will be required. You wonder what tales they will have to tell you?

"Fancy that," you think to yourself. "The king coming to see me!"....


Game Details


Awards

64th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

59th Place, Best in Show - The IF Short Games Showcase 2023

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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Mascarpone and Gorgonzola, October 4, 2023
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Magor is an Italian cheese made up of alternating layers of Mascarpone and Gorgonzola. (The name, which is an obvious portmanteau of the names of the two constituting cheeses, is apparently mostly used in the Netherlands.) It's what you buy when the strong taste of Gorgonzola seems a bit too much, and you want something smoother, less adventurous. Of course, when you're eating it, the enjoyment is somewhat tinged by regret. Why didn't you get the straight Gorgonzola?

Magor is also an old magician in Larry Horsfield's extensive Alaric Blackmoon series, of which this is the first game I've played. He's more the goofy Merlin from Disney's The Sword in the Stone than a serious Gandalf type, prone as he is to losing his spectacles, and given as he is to using most of his magical talents for the production of whisky. But Magor is pretty effective when he wants to be. When the king and duke Blackmoon come to you and ask you to find out what their family connection is, you quickly solve a sequence of problems (all there for you in the Tasks list) and give them the answer they crave.

I've had less-than-optimal experiences with Adrift games in the past, having fought the parser much more than I'd like to. But Magor Investigates... is truly one of the smoothest parser experiences ever. Whether we should thank Adrift 5 for that, or whether Larry is just a really good implementer and had really good testers, I don't know, but it's something for which the game must be applauded. Larry is certainly responsible for the detailed implementation of objects, the quality of life features, the useful messages when you're doing things not quite right, and all the other little touches that make the game feel helpful and interested in your success.

I'm less sold on the aesthetics of the game. Like many Adrift games, it has the look and feel of a 1996 website hosted on GeoCities, with sans serif fonts in multiple colours on a black background. The only thing that's missing are animated gifs that make fun of Bill Gates! At one point, the game even seemed to switch to Comic Sans... but that must have been an illusion. It must have been. Of course none of this really impacts one's enjoyment of the game, but I don't understand why the Adrift Runner doesn't look a little bit more professional. (I should try Frankendrift to see if that's better.)

On to the substance of the game. As Magor, you have to solve a sequence of 'puzzles' in order to get the information the king and the duke wants. I've put 'puzzles' between scare quotes not because the puzzles are especially scary, but because they're not scary at all; they're so not scary that one wonders whether they are really puzzles, or simply tasks one has to perform. Not that I minded. I liked pottering about, relaxing, enjoying the descriptions, which are pretty enjoyable in a low-key, relaxed way. It's a no stress 'adventure'. I've put 'adventure' between scare quotes not because... well, I guess you get the idea.

Indeed, although my play experience had been extremely smooth and quite enjoyable, I nevertheless wondered why all of it had been *this* low-key. The central stakes of the game are so incredibly tame. The king and duke already know that they are related, and now they want to know exactly where in their vast lineage this link happened... well, turns out it was six generations ago. Not very exciting, but they immediately start a huge party! I think it would have been way more surprising if two nobles had not been related to each other in the sixth generation, and it also got me thinking that the Axe of Kolt, which can only be used by those with the blood of... I forgot his name... must be usable by, oh, I don't know, but after so many generations, it must be usable by almost everyone in the kingdom, right? Anyway... I suppose I was eager for a little more adventure. It was really nice to play this game, but next time, I'd prefer to leave out the Mascarpone and go for the straight Gorgonzola.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Perhaps too low-key, December 7, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

I have by now played a reasonable number of Larry Horsfield games – three just in this year’s ParserComp – so when I see his name on IFComp entry, I approach it with a certain amount of respect leavened by an also-certain amount of fear. He writes big, old-school games that fall into the traditional genres, but has an eye for appealing worldbuilding and an engaging, almost homey level of detail. But the puzzles he writes are almost always way harder than I’m able to solve, most often due to my own lack of brain-power, but occasionally also due to the idiosyncrasies of the ADRIFT system and parser; he’s also parsimonious with hints and typically doesn’t post a walkthrough. My quintessential experience with one of his games is to bumble my way to about a quarter of the points before giving up in despair, feeling like I’d missed out on something that could be really good if I was just more in tune with the intended gameplay.

This feeling, as it turns out, is right on, because Magor Investigates… is a sidequel to one of those aforementioned ParserComp entries, Xanix-Xixon Recurrence (yes, I looked that up), and the introductory text allows you to get a summary of what happened in that game to its two heroes (Duke Alaric Blackmoon, who’s the protagonist of many of the previous games in this series, and his buddy the king, whose name I’ve forgotten, and look, I’ve already looked one thing up in this paragraph so I don’t know what you expect). I left them flailing about in an abandoned city after a sandstorm, but apparently they had some cool adventures after that as they fought the titular lizardmen (they’re the Xanix, I think?) including a giant scary hybrid. It definitely sounds pretty neat, and there’s even a closing plot twist: Duke Blackmoon is able to use a special ability of the king’s magic axe, except only someone with royal blood should be able to activate that magic!

That’s where you – Magor, the court wizard – come in. Once the duo are back and rested from their journey, they charge you with doing some genealogical research to investigate Blackmoon’s connection to the royal family. I loved this premise – you will never go wrong pitching me a game about reading old documents – and the author’s worldbuilding strengths are very much on display. While the absent-minded wizard is a hoary old archetype, Magor is a great incarnation of the concept, and has his own idiosyncrasies: I laughed at his industrial-sized home distillery he’s got tucked right off his sitting room, because the guy loves his whiskey. So I embarked on this adventure hoping I’d get a little farther than usual.

And, er, I did; I managed to win, in fact. Magor Investigates…, it turns out, is an appetizer of a game; you have a ten-element task list laying out what you need to do to win, but some of them are optional (I forgot to water the plant, oops!), many of them are well-nigh automatic, like meeting with the king, and the few puzzles, which largely revolve around curing the royal archivist’s tummy-ache, are quite straightforward, though not without their pleasures (fussing about with the kettle and herbs to make an herbal infusion was just the right amount of busywork).

I was a bit disappointed the game was this slight. Partially this is just because it’s fairly easy, but also because of the way the difficulty is managed: there aren’t any conversational commands in the game, for example, with dialogue just happening automatically in cutscenes. Some puzzles also take care of themselves, in ways that actually sometimes wrong-footed me: I couldn’t figure out how to give the infusion to the archivist, because you’re not supposed to do that yourself – it’s all taken care of once you walk into the bedroom carrying the mug, but since I poured the kettle into the mug once I was already in the room, this “convenience” wound up being frustrating. And I was likewise momentarily stymied when I failed to notice that putting one herb in the kettle automatically put the other one in, too.

This is the second of Horsfield’s games that I’ve finished; I made my way through another of his ParserComp entries, Bug Hunt on Menelaus, this summer. It likewise was fairly short and consisted mostly of simple puzzles, though it was subject to a very tight time-limit that required frequent reloads; there’s nothing like that this time out, and if anything the challenges were even simpler. In both cases, I enjoyed myself, but definitely wanted something a little meatier than what I got. I know, I know, I am being a jerk, like Goldilocks saying “this one’s too long and hard,” “this one’s too short and easy,” when I am just freeloading on the hard work of others. Still, I do hope that sometime, I’ll get to play a Larry Horsfield game that’s just right – and for all my bellyaching, Magor Investigates… is certainly a fun way to pass the time until then.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Whip up some medicine to cure a cold, and do genealogy, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

I beta tested this game.

The Alaric Blackmoon games have a long and storied history going back I think decades.

Most of the ones that I have played have been written in Adrift. They are written in traditional fantasy style; as books, they would have fit fine as a TSR series along with Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance.

The games are usually quite long, often with action sequences, and several of them use similar set pieces (like the castle in this game, which features in several other games).

This one is a stripped down and smaller version. There is just a simple goal: to explore the genealogy of the main characters.

I’ve seen others saying this game felt a little too small; I could see that, but I feel like it’s more polished than a lot of the other Blackmoon games. The only issue I found was with some leaves, where I had some both in my hand and in a cup, but that’s not necessarily bad, as I could have taken only part of it out.

Genealogy is a requirement in my religion and one I enjoy, so I liked this lower-stakes storyline. It can be very fun to track down an ancestor and find distant cousins.

Overall, this is a nice introduction to the series, and can get people use to the style of the other games (like magic, the way the Axe works, etc.)

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