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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.
Number of Reviews: 3
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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.
Mwoohahaa! The time and tide of the blood moon is there. A moon of power, the only time when a disembodied spirit becomes strong enough to perform the art of Spectral Shifting and reclaim the physical body you need to have some real impact on the world.
Hallowmoor's opening screen with a red-on-black drawing of a medieval stronghold immediately sets the tone. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a puzzle to get from there into the game proper. The player has to take a detour via the "Load/Save" button to find the "Play" option.
It took some getting used to the gameplay. There are a lot of links in the short descriptive paragraphs, many of which lead to exposition text or more detailed descriptions of scenery. At times, I got the feeling I was in an unintentional labyrinth of links, especially with the various words leading to the same passages (justified by the need to maintain the flow of the prose.)
After stumbling through the first handful of screens though, I developed a nose for navigating these connections and play began to feel more fluent.
Hallowmoor is very much an old-school game focused on exploration, experimentation and object-manipulation. To accomodate this in a choice-engine, the majority of fine-grained actions like TAKE or USE are automated. The parser-like hands-on touch is preserved by requiring the player to be in the exact passage of text before succesfully using an object. (For example, opening the cupboard with the crowbar won't work in the kitchen. The player first has to click the link to the cupboard description for it to work. Note: there are no cuboards or crowbars in the game.)
The most notable feature of the game is the aforementioned Spectral Shift magic mechanic. It allows the player to switch PCs with different skills and sensitivities. To complicate matters, the two characters come from opposing sides in a battle between their peoples, meaning they must never be in the same location together lest they kill each other. This adds a layer of spatial puzzle-solving to the basic text-adventure obstacles, forcing the player to consider where and when to move which character with some planning and consideration.
A surprising addition is the incorporation of a game-within-the-game. In a certain location, the player can play through a mini-text-game. I strongly suspect that this is where that lousy last point is hidden. (I never found it...)
An engaging and challenging puzzle-choice game.
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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