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Good dungeon crawl, somewhat aimless parody, December 2, 2015
TOMBs of Reschette is an approximation of an old-fashioned fantasy RPG, complete with combat, inventory and unconventional stats, in Twine. It feels very much akin to Goodness' previous RPG parody, TWEEZER: it's not a direct sequel, and does not necessarily take place in the same setting, but there are some references to the previous game, and the worldbuilding is a similar mixture of tongue-in-cheek cliché and wild originality.
In many ways, TOMBs of Reschette improves on its predecessor. The plot is more of a driving force, even if it is a bog-standard "explore the tombs and kill the final boss" (almost in so many words). The inventory adds to the retro RPG feel. Twine formatting flourishes feel less intrusive, and remain well handled (changes in the colour scheme contribute greatly to the ambience, for example). Puzzles play a large part and are nicely challenging. Combat is usually resolved in a single move and focus on a puzzle approach (choosing the right weapon) rather than repeated bashing: perhaps less reminiscent of roguelikes, but more appropriate for Twine. There is some very good descriptive writing. Despite the overt derivative nature of the game, a great deal of originality has gone into the monsters inhabiting the dungeon: you're not going to find your average run-of-the-mill skeletons or goblins here.
At the same time, I came away feeling vaguely unsatisfied. TWEEZER was a slight game, and some of its comedy was hit-and-miss, but by and large, I found it a joy to read. TOMBs, though it might be better written, never feels as funny. Some of its comedy relies on a close pastiche of 1980s computer game/gamebook writing, which is well done but not laugh-out-loud funny; some feels aimless; and a couple of stretches of the game hardly seem to be comedic at all (by which I don't mean that they're tragic or grim, simply that they don't aim for comedy). While there are some well-turned lines, the game is missing the main source of TWEEZER's comedy, the individualised narrative voice.
(Spoiler - click to show)As for one of the central conceits, "monsters are living beings who deserve to be left alone" is a subversion of "monsters should just be slaughtered for XP" that has been around long enough (the earliest occurrence I'm aware of is in the Sega game Soleil in 1994) that it's almost become a cliché of its own. This game doesn't take it very seriously; the happy endings where you spare the Wamwhateverit'scalled have an '80s after-school special earnestness to them. It's not badly handled, but neither is it a very interesting concept, in my opinion.
In short, a well-written, well coded tribute/friendly send-up of old dungeon crawls, well worth a playthrough if you like puzzles, Twine with complex world modelling, or simply want to revel in a retro fantasy atmosphere for a while. However... oh, maybe TWEEZER just primed me to expect something other than what I've got. TOMBs, despite its parodic nature, isn't laugh-out-loud funny most of the time, and perhaps it isn't trying to be. That's okay. It's got other strengths.