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2nd Place - Finish The Game Comp 2005
This came second in the Finish The Game Comp, beaten very narrowly by Pathway To Destruction.
What's it about?
You're a director having to guide Indianette Jones around the set of his latest film, freeing an orb from a crystal and dealing with a demon in the process. Indianette needs telling what to do, you see, because she's the typical generic bimbo without a thought in her own head (kind of like a blonde version of Lara Croft)...
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Number of Reviews: 2
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(Spoiler - click to show)You know you have a good game on your hands when you can't solve it following a walkthrough word by word.
This is exactly the case with Robert Street's "adventure" game Take One, clearly the work of someone who didn't even try to make a playable game.
The basic idea of directing an actress on a movie set, while not an uninteresting idea, is implemented absolutely poorly. Take One is not even able to keep the perspective straight! Whilst the protagonist of the game is "Indianette Jones" (a stereotypical dumb blonde, by the way), described in the third person, commands like "inventory" result in a confusing "Myself is carrying..." output. So who are you actually playing?!
Let's talk about the biggest failure of Take One, the parser. There are bad parsers, there are really bad parsers, and then there's this game. I don't want to "spoil" your "fun" (in case you decide to subjugate yourself to the torture of trying out this piece of fiction yourself), but let me just say that if a million monkeys on a million typewriters were forced to write a playable interactive fiction game, it wouldn't take them all eternity to come up with a much better result than Robert Street. Even the basic fundamentals of internal logic are broken (the game "magically" forgetting about the direction you came from and therefore trapping you, needing to refer to unseen objects in order to progress, etc...). One might theorize that like Nintendo Hard old-school video games the broken controls attempt to make the game (rather unfairly) harder, but it's much more probable the author just didn't have a clue what he was doing.
To cut a long story short, don't play it. Don't touch it. Don't even point at it.
PS: I have a bit of a problem with reviewing a game I couldn't play to the end. In this case even the walkthrough didn't help me, but of course if anybody knows how to get to the end I will revise my review.
Take One by Robert Street is a very short, very linear game. In fact, even with the walkthrough, you will likely have a hard time beating it if you don't follow it to the word. A pretty unrealistic time counter (even trivialities and failed actions use up time, for example) limits the exploring you will do in this game and pretty much ensures you have to play it again and again to figure it out. Aside from this bad design decision, the syntax is quite picky, which is guaranteed to hamper your abilities of puzzle-solving. Due to its short length, with some patience the game should be beatable though.
Compared even to the bad gameplay, the story of Take One isn't a beautiful and unique snowflake either. The premise tells you that you are a film director in command of a Indiana Jones-referencing character, yet the perspective is just like in any other interactive fiction game. Crystals, supernatural beings and the likes are used in pretty stereotypical manner and there isn't even an attempt to make the story or setting different from something that was thought up in five minutes. A particular odd writing quirk is that the stereotypical dumb blonde protagonist is insulted by the movie director (which is you!) in both the very beginning and end of the game, yet there isn't the slightest justification for it anywhere in the game text!
Bottom line: Another "play and forget" game. 2/10
As with Mr. Street's Turning Point, this work introduces certain interesting elements that don't end up having a recognizable impact on the story.(Spoiler - click to show) It's written in the third person, presumably in support of your observational status as director, but the gameplay works as though you yourself are Indianette -- there is no functional separation of "you" from her. The actress playing Indianette is decried as a useless airhead in the introduction, but this is not used for any story-telling effect (e.g. bawling her out when "she" makes a mistake, or ditzy commentary as "she" struggles on the set). In fact, she expresses no personality at all during gameplay, leaving me wondering why she is characterized that way.
Orientation to the game goal is well done. As the player, you immediately are told how to start the scene, and, while there are numerous hints about the outline of the puzzle you have to solve, there is enough left unspecified to make for a small challenge.
Unfortunately, what could have been a smooth gameplay experience was frustrated by programming and/or parser problems.(Spoiler - click to show) Though you are given instructions to read the journal then rub the ring, you are unable to rub the ring while wearing it. If you try, you are told "Indianette Jones can't rub the ring," which is unhelpful, to say the least. I spent several turns in an unproductive hunt for a synonym of "rub" that would apply before I figured out the glitch.
In a similar vein, it took me far too long to discover how to get the jewel from the statue.(Spoiler - click to show) Unlike Inform, the ADRIFT parser doesn't seem to provide any help if the player hits on a correct verb but incorrect syntax. Thus, the command "use whip" gives the same result as "<any nonsense> whip", which makes it seem like the verb is unrecognized. In fact, "use whip on jewel" would work. Since I am conditioned to the Inform type of parser response in this case ("What would you like to use the whip on?"), and since most authors avoid implementation of the verb "use" in favor of more specific wording, I spent several playthroughs trying things like "crack whip", "attack jewel with whip", "whip jewel", "throw whip at jewel", etc. before hitting on "get whip with jewel".
The situation isn't helped by the fact that the game lies and tells you the jewel is lying on the ground -- a serious error for a final release.
Those issues aside, it was smooth sailing and a fun scenario. The overloading of the "restart" action to begin a new "take" of the scene was a clever touch.
Mr. Street definitely has the ability to come up with good premises and puzzles. With better use of the conceptual pieces he puts into play and a less journalistic writing style, his work would probably attract more attention.
This is version 2 of this page, edited by OtisTDog on 11 April 2010 at 3:56pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item