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About the Story
Lieutenant Huchess came to, an hour or so ago. That was around the time Runoma, blazing orange-hot so near this, its second planet, fell below the distant, jagged crag line. Ensign Covegn died not long after -- Sandra Marie Covegn, both legs crushed under the weight of the pod's torn hatch. Night came quickly, bringing with it cool and howling winds that whistle through desert rocks and carry other, more dangerous sounds.
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 2005 XYZZY Awards
[...] the game is tiny -- slightly more than ten rooms, most of which you run by in a rush, but it manages to unwind an intricate plot with an ending, which manages both to be immensely satisfying and to neatly tie up all loose ends. And it's not too wordy, either -- but the reticent descriptions are just long enough to create a truly creepy atmosphere. The puzzles also are set up with a minimum of items to manipulate, yet they are both challenging and logical.
-- Valentine Kopteltsev
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Closely related to the adventure game is the survival game, in which physical puzzles are very appropriate. The writing and tone of this one work well, much as in Snyder's other works. But there are so many holes in the implementation of Distress that it utterly destroys the experience. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)an obvious source of bandages is a dead comrade's uniform, but apparently the dignity of the dead is more important than another's life, or even your own. Other marginal but plausible ideas were disallowed outright, such as (Spoiler - click to show)climbing the arch to attack the monster from safety; a simple re-wording of the "you can't do that" kind of message to a "you try but" kind would have been welcome.
It began to seem to me the author was intentionally trying to lead me astray, describing interesting things at a distance I wasn't allowed to move toward, and stopping me from doing most of anything else. It took the hint system to tell me what should have been obvious: (Spoiler - click to show)the stray spike of metal that gashed my comrade isn't a stray spike of metal, but apparently a still fully-functioning machine.
But when my protagonist attacked a monster with the wrong end of a spike, it completed my loss of respect in this work.
Definitely not recommended for beginners.
(I recommend instead a different work by this author, "Tales of the Traveling Swordsman".)
I played this Hugo game on Gargoyle. This game was nominated for a Best Game XYZZY award in 2005. You play a woman who just crashed on a strange planet and must survive. It feels like a shipwreck story, in a good way.
The game is very constrained. WAIT is disabled as a command! There are only ten locations, and only 4 of them have anything interesting; out of those four, two have exactly one item and one action you need to do.
I didn't like this game at first, for those reasons, but after I played it, the story stuck in my mind. The writing is descriptive and evocative, the items are well-described and creative. It is a game much better than the sum of its parts.
Laura Hubbard and I discuss Distress at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAFjXLPw2lc#t=46m36s
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