Tristam Island

by Hugo Labrande profile


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Number of Reviews: 4
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A game that is a treat for retro enthusiasts. Explore a large, mysterious island, December 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is an unusual parser game in that a lot of its development went into making it accessible on a variety of platforms, including Apple II, Atari, Gameboy, TI-84 and Dreamcast.

This puts some pretty extreme constraints on a game, which explains a bit why this is in a .z3 format. It would also suggest that this game would have to be under-implemented or small.

But Labrande has fit quite a lot of game into this small package, and that's what took this from a 4-star game for me to a 5-star game.

You land on an island after a plane crash and have to both survive and investigate the mystery of the island.

Gameplay takes place in several portions, each of which involves increasingly sophisticated objects and devices.

The first, survival-focused, portion was fairly linear, which was odd to me, and then once it opened up more I realized that this was just a very large game so its opening, linear segment was larger than most.

This game is at its best when it presents mysteries. When the game first mentioned Tristam Island by name I was instantly intrigued. That was my driving force in playing.

The feel is more like Infocom in that you have large maps with a few useful items in each area. This map reminded me a bit of Planetfall, which had several empty rooms to serve for realism's sake.

The biggest divergences from Infocom are in NPCs and in 'pizazz'. There are few opportunities to interact with others in this game, lending it a quiter feel. And Infocom games tended to be over-the-top, with wild circuses or exciting spy thrillers or time travel. This game is completely grounded in reality, and in fact seems to have entailed a great deal of research.

There are some troubles here and there in terms of responses or synonyms, which is why I would have given 4 stars. But much or all of that is explained by the oppressive constraints one has to deal with to fit a game this complex into a small package.

If you are a fan of retro gaming, I can't think of anything better than to play this on your platform of choice. For fans of parser games in general, I can give this a positive recommendation as something longer than any game in this year's IFComp, and polished.

(Note: I used the provided hints, messaging the author and even decompiling to complete this game. With all those aids, it still took me several hours).