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About the Story
Your quest: infiltrate Castle Hallowmoor, find the potion, and make it out alive. This is a Halloween-themed adventure -- hypertext interactive fiction playable in most modern web browsers.
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Our kind host over at intfiction has provided a fine and fully working textbook example of an old-style fantasy text-adventure in Twine. It plays precisely like any other work in the genre, except it doesn't require a parser, relying solely on links and variable state. You have inventory management, an auto-map feature, score and more.
It avoids the usual problem with links in IF -- that it doesn't require much thought to mindlessly click your way through the story -- admirably: there simply are far more links than what really matters. Most of them are just scenery bits that help with characterization and setting, but are not essential to get through.
Hallowmoor is Halloween-themed and features a spirit protagonist trying to get back to the land of the living. You learn of a dark potion that should grant this wish if only drank in a particular date, which just happens to coincide with a battle between the skeleton army and the sisterhood of witches. You initially inhabit one of the skeletons thanks to the Specter Shift skill and it's up to you to go in and explore Hallowmoor Castle, the HQ's of the witches.
This is a honest interactive fiction, not some barely interactive experiment in reader depreciation or poetry. It proves that Twine is no excuse for plain hypertext.
Hallowmoor stretches the capabilities of Twine to their limits, containing a complex world model, an inventory, a compass rose showing possible exits (though these can also be accessed by clicking keywords), an automap, and puzzles that are not necessarily easier just because you don't have to type in the solution.
The puzzles are the high point of the game: there were several times when I let out an impressed "really?" upon trying some combination and finding that it was indeed implemented. The central conceit for many of the puzzles may not be completely unique, but is rare in IF, and particularly unexpected in a choice-based game. (Spoiler - click to show)You need to switch between two host bodies with different abilities and weaknesses. However, their paths may not cross, or the unpossessed one will kill the possessed one on sight. There are of course also other puzzles, involving the use of inventory items. In some ways, it reminded me of the old graphical adventure Shadowgate.
So in terms of implementation and puzzle inventiveness: full marks. Unfortunately, the story and writing don't quite live up to the technical fireworks on display. While the plot is reasonably original (you are a ghost searching for the potion that will restore you to bodily life), the setting is extremely generic fantasy standard: armies of skeletons, witches with gnarled hands, dungeon cells. I admit to a soft spot for old-school fantasy settings in games, but I never warmed to this setting: some rooms did give a satisfyingly edgy feeling of infiltrating a dark castle full of enemies, but for the most part, the world felt gross and filthy rather than frightening.
As for the writing, it's perfectly fine and does a good job laying out the rooms without making them too overwhelming for puzzle-solving; however, no passages really stand out. It's serviceable, rather than exquisite. (Also, I caught an annoying misspelling: "ode de" should be "eau de".)
The Twine format is good, and the colour scheme fits well with the theme.
Deserves to become a classic.
This is the biggest exploratory Twine game I've seen since the Axolotl Project. Play as a spectre capable of shifting hosts who is seeking a black potion in the bowels of Castle Hallowmoor during a battle between witches and skeletons.
The game has 2-3 times the usual amount of links, with many of them descriptions only, so it is harder to cheat by clicking everything. There is an inventory button allowing you to dynamically use items throughout the game.
It took me about an hour, with some rather tricky pieces. Recommended for everyone.
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This is version 16 of this page, edited by Merk on 13 November 2013 at 10:53pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item