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Epically long murder mystery adventure in Adrift, July 10, 2023
Phew! This was a long game. I took a break from playing the other parsercomp games for 4 days to finish playing this one; and that was just by using the walkthrough, which spans 8 pages of 3-columned text.
The idea of this game is that you are at a party at a large mansion where a murder has been discovered. It is your job to stop that murder!
The presentation and the writing are of high quality, which some nice visual effects with regards to headings and fonts, and very incisive and biting wit. There are many characters that are generally well differentiated, although almost every character frequently expresses very strong sexual urges in non-explicit ways, so it can blend together when the 5th or 6th man talks about how hot the widow is.
I played for about an hour or two to get a feel for the game. I got maybe 23 out of the 250+ points, then decided to use the walkthrough.
It soon became apparent just why the walkthrough was so long. The map is large, especially a garden area which is a maze with several almost-identical areas. The vast bulk of the game, around 75%, consists of some character asking you to give something to or ask something of another character. So you have about 10 or 12 moves navigating the garden maze and going into the mansion and finding your target. That character then says they can only do that if you bring them something else. So you type 10 or 12 moves going there and doing that, and so on and so on till you reach the end of the chain. Then you report back to people in reverse order, with the same maze navigation between every chain.
Due to this the plot really kind of stopped taking off. At first I felt like I was really getting somewhere (finding the widow! searching the murder room!) but if you charted the plot intensity with regards to time it would look like a giant snake that had just eaten a string of 30 rats. Flat plot progression for a long time, with a little bump of action, followed by more flat plot progression, with a little bump of action.
The writing was constantly of high quality in the genre it had set out to follow, a kind of bawdy, everyone-is-rotten nobles vs commoners dark comedy.
Outside of the fetch quests, the game consisted of finding objects in random and unusual ways. The kind of thing where touch a glass pane and it reveals a trapdoor which takes you on a chute ride to find an oubliette where you overhear two thieves talking and one drops a potato crisp. (this example isn't necessarily in the game).
When I wasn't following the walkthrough I had a bit of trouble. An early quest needed me to find some cream buns. I saw food on a table and tried X FOOD. That didn't work so I went into the kitchen and tried X FOOD. I figured maybe they were there but not in the description so I tried TAKE FOOD and TAKE BUNS. It turns out I needed to X COUNTER instead to find them.
So given that the discovery of objects was often difficult with the parser, and that seemingly unrelated actions were necessary to find the objects, and that almost each step of each task required navigation of almost-identical maze rooms, and that the game was as long as Curses and other huge text adventures, I think it's no surprise I turned to the walkthrough. There are copious clues though for those who prefer more gentle hints.