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About the Story
Dee Ceased, formerly of that horrible old house on the hill, has died but his Urn has been broken. Unite the pieces of the Urn to put his soul at ease.
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When the game tells us, without irony, that "this panty contains nothing edible," we can be sure of two things. First, this isn't AIF. Second, this is a game badly in need of some friendly beta-testers. And it isn't just about spelling. This is a game where things like this happen ...
The Spider eyes you warily.
>examine the spider
You can't see any such thing.
... Several things like this. It is, functionally, an unfinished work. Some of the writing seems fun; the basic old-school nature of it feels very nice (I like a bit of retro-adaptation!) and in every way it feels like the first beta of a game with a bright future ahead, given a few rounds of testing and the requisite elbow-grease. There's a real sense of simple fun bubbling somewhere in there. Author: time to recruit some friends, and don't worry: you haven't (at least not yet) written a bad game; it's just that your potentially good game isn't done yet.
The name of the game contains much truth; unfortunately, "The Terrible, Old Manse" begins with a grammar error in the title itself and the problems don't let up from there. The room descriptions are littered with typos, some resulting in unintentional comedy (or pornography). Take for example, the Pantry. Guess what's misspelled? The name of the room itself! Even a main object in the game suffers from this bone-headed mistake -- the lantern, or should I say, the LATERN. Yup, you'll have to refer to the LATERN the entire game because TTOM doesn't recognize the word LANTERN.
For additional weariness, objects don't behave the way that you'd expect. (Spoiler - click to show)You can open the arras, for instance, and you open it by going east from the first room. Simply getting the key causes doors to unlock, while dropping it does nothing. What kind of house is this? The NPCs actions' are similarly implemented, particularly in the case of the bat. TTOM states that the bat harries you, but your movement is unrestricted and no additional time is taken up from its interference unless you are waiting. (Spoiler - click to show)Also, the bat can age you just by touching you. Huh? This, however, doesn't prevent you from getting the bat and carrying it around. Finally, the game imposes a severe time limit and a three-item carrying limit.
As for writing style, TTOM drowns in minimalistic descriptions, with room after room of terse "This is" and "There are" sentences. Its atmosphere is MIA with the few standard horror cliches not even raising the game to the level of self-parody. Purple prose is everywhere.
If the game is winnable, it must rely upon examining every object to discover which ones are purple prose and which are not. I gave up long before resorting to that exercise in frustration.
It becomes painfully obvious that this game wasn't tested by anyone besides the author, and I seriously wonder if the author himself bothered to test his own game. Didn't even a simple comparison with any other IF game tell the author that something was off?
The Terrible Old Manse is fairly terrible, even for a first-time outing.
The Terrible, Old Manse on IFDB
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This is version 4 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 27 April 2019 at 8:21am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item