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Back To Life... Unfortunately

by David Whyld profile

Part of Back To Life series

Web Site

(based on 8 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

An ancient king is resurrected by his adoring populace... much to his dismay as he kind of liked being dead - lots of time to think, put your feet up and, best of all, no work. But now he's back, he's expected to do the job of ruling an empire which stretches across half the globe and is constantly at war with everyone. Time, he decides, he died again...

Game Details

Editorial Reviews

Now Play Dead and Roll Over...
And so 'Back to Life... Unfortunately' with its amusing twist on a morbid subject ends up being a short, entertaining bit of fluff, ultimately not particularly memorable beyond its premise, but worth the download and the time spent playing it. (Charon)
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Delron Review Compilation
Rest In Not-Quite-Peace
The game starts off well. You are a dead king who has been resurrected seven years later because your people need you to rules them. What of your heir? He's got bowel trouble and just can't seem to help out. Well, you're not going to sit around and live while you're...well, alive! Thus begins the odd quest of killing yourself until the job is done right...permanently.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun but sometimes frustrating, October 25, 2023

Back to Life... Unfortunately is an entertaining but significantly buggy game. I played version 3, obtained from the IF Archive. (At least, I think it was version 3. The game banner claims to be version 2, but the response to the command >BUGS implies otherwise.)

As noted by another reviewer, the game's humor starts well but doesn't hold up for long; there are really only so many ways to tell the same joke. However, by the time the humor has worn off, you are likely to have achieved several "successes," so you will be well-motivated to finish the game on the basis of wanting to complete the remaining puzzles. Regrettably, you are likely to run into trouble while doing so.

Many of the issues stem from the use of ADRIFT to write the game. As I've noted elsewhere, the most frustrating thing about ADRIFT as a player is that it lacks a proper parser and does not differentiate well between errors that are caused by failure to understand the arrangement of words vs. the failure to understand the words themselves. The game's gravest errors are where it provides inaccurate feedback, giving the player the perception that certain required commands would have no effect or would be unrecognized. I got hung up for quite a while on the syntax required to mark boxes on a form; since the need to do this is immediate and obvious, it is no spoiler to relay that the correct syntax is of the form >TICK BOX 1. (Just >TICK BOX is treated as a totally unrecognized command -- a disambiguation message would have helped tremendously here.) The worst offender of this class was (Spoiler - click to show)(see numbered hint 3 below). Attempting to use any other direct object results in a message instructing the player to say which of several indirect objects is intended. Specifying the correct indirect object in the command via its typical adventurese abbreviation (i.e. color only) will not work and falsely claim that there is no effect.

There is a built-in hint system, but it is not very extensive and does not help with guess-the-* problems. (Even here there is a significant inconsistency: While >HINT works as a command, the response to >HINTS claims there are no hints in the game.) (Spoiler - click to show)If you get really frustrated, there is a command >CLUES that will point the way to 100% spoilage. Since the game is enjoyable and worth playing, I offer the following hints:

1. Handling an intruder: (Spoiler - click to show)After exploring a bit, you will hear the sound of an intruder in your chambers. (Spoiler - click to show)You should immediately >LISTEN as soon as you are notified of this. Should you fail to do so, it will seem as though the noise was a false alarm. Go back to the Throne Room and >LISTEN to trigger the next part of the sequence. (Spoiler - click to show)An assassin! Oh, no!... but wait a minute, don't you want to die? (Spoiler - click to show)As the game hints, you don't want to die at the hands of this particular person -- once was enough.(Spoiler - click to show)You can't handle the intruder alone. He will kill you.(Spoiler - click to show)The guards can help here. (Spoiler - click to show)You have to call them -- but it only works correctly from the Laboratory. (Spoiler - click to show)If you don't do things this way, you will miss two opportunities to die.

2. Dealing with the problems of the kingdom: (Spoiler - click to show)You don't want to rule anymore. That's someone else's job. Someone specific. (Spoiler - click to show)Your High Chancellor is very... effective, shall we say, but he can't do the job alone. (Spoiler - click to show)Your layabout son is the proper ruler at this point. You will need to "encourage" him. (Spoiler - click to show)Did you know that you can >CALL GUARDS from the Throne Room? (Spoiler - click to show)They will provide you with a ring allowing telepathic communication. Pay attention to its introduction. (Spoiler - click to show)Examine it carefully before putting it on. (Spoiler - click to show)Your son isn't eager to take up his duties, but he is eager to avoid any displeasure. (Spoiler - click to show)Especially pain. (Spoiler - click to show)>SMASH RING -- but only while wearing it in the Throne Room, for inexplicable reasons. That will get his attention. (Spoiler - click to show)Then >TALK TO TOROMIN again -- but only somewhere other than the Throne Room, for inexplicable reasons.

3. An optional death: (Spoiler - click to show)If you have handled the intruder correctly, you will get two items that he was carrying. (Spoiler - click to show)One is easily applied to your goal. The other requires some work to use. (Spoiler - click to show)The leaf has an odor that reminds you of something. (Spoiler - click to show)Your lab has something that can help. (Spoiler - click to show)You want to heat it up. Which potion is best for this? (Spoiler - click to show)For inexplicable reasons, >PUT LEAF IN PURPLE won't work (and falsely claim that nothing happened), but >PUT LEAF IN POTION or >PUT LEAF IN PURPLE POTION will have a result.

4. A required death: (Spoiler - click to show)As you have discovered, your minions are quite adept at bringing you back to life. How can you stop them? (Spoiler - click to show)You need to be not just killed but obliterated. (Spoiler - click to show)Earthly methods are insufficient here; you need divine intervention. (Spoiler - click to show)Divine is not the same as infernal! (Spoiler - click to show)You probably found a scroll discussing "words of power" in the Laboratory. (Spoiler - click to show)Oh, darn -- the words are missing. But this was your scroll, supposedly, so maybe you already know them? (Spoiler - click to show)You can just say >WORDS OF POWER to use them -- in the right place. (Spoiler - click to show)The right place being someplace open to the sky. (Spoiler - click to show)No, not the balcony. (Spoiler - click to show)The Throne Room needs to be prepared before it will work. So do you. The scroll is specific about this. (Spoiler - click to show)Holy water is the tool for the job. (Spoiler - click to show)You can drink some to prepare yourself, but you need a way to get some to the Throne Room. (Spoiler - click to show)The only container that can be used for this must be ordered using the mouldy scroll (obtained via >CALL GUARDS in the Throne Room). (Spoiler - click to show)The genie in a bottle is a red herring. (Spoiler - click to show)The fiery potion won't kill you but does provide you with a container. (Spoiler - click to show)You can >FILL VIAL in the Laboratory and >SPRINKLE WATER in the Throne Room.

Although the goal is to reach a score of 10, the way to achieve this best score is, unexpectedly, to forego one of the opportunities (Spoiler - click to show)(see numbered clue 1 above). Doing so provides the PC with needed items that can't be obtained any other (legitimate) way. Sharp-eyed players will note that the score (measured in "successful suicide attempts") goes up even when the PC chooses not to die here, and that this mysterious extra death is needed to get to 10. The reason for this is not clear; it seems to be a bug.

The least bothersome issues encountered in the course of play were several misspellings that looked like the result of depending on a spellchecker instead of human proofreading. Of particular note were two phrases: "the semi-literature Toromin" (instead of "semi-literate") and "full extent of the water" (presumably instead of "of the law"?) -- the remainder were sound-alike errors that are easier to miss.

The problems were frequent and severe enough to sharply reduce my opinion of the gameplay experience, which is why I've given it two stars. However, I did like this game, and I encourage people to try it out. Its premise is solid, and the writing is above-average. It ended up being the first of a series, followed by two sequels that received respectable rankings within the competitions in which they were entered. With some corrections in place, this game would definitely warrant three stars. Until that happens, don't hesitate to use the clues above as a way of smoothing out the roughest parts.

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Great idea, but it doesn't deliver, September 2, 2008
by Maze (Rome, Italy)

In this game you are a king (somewhere and somewhen). You are brought back to life because your heir - your son - is behaving like a kiddo, and the High Councelor wants your help against empire threats. Don't worry about the empire threats though, because your only mission will be to drop dead again, hopefully forever. That is: you gotta suicide, baby.
The suicide idea is great (though I admit that I was quite disappointed, because I was thinking to develop a game about the same basic idea, and now I can't anymore because this has already been done - sigh ;-P). Anyway, with suicide in mind, "Back to Life..." should be a fun game indeed, developed in very few rooms. But, sadly, it doesn't deliver. The writing is funny only for the first minutes, than it flattens out.
The puzzles too, have many nice ideas (and nice ways for being carried out), but them too, they don't deliver. There's too much "guess the word" for such a brief game. And some badly implemented puzzle.

In the end, ok, this game is not THAT good. But you might have fun playing it for awhile. And, given it's briefness, you'll get the initial fun.

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Well worth a revival, November 10, 2007
by Ken Franklin (England)

This is my favourite of all the games that David Whyld has written. It is very silly as you are revived against your wishes and unable to get back to your well earned and peaceful death.

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Back To Life... Unfortunately on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Back To Life... Unfortunately appears in the following Recommended Lists:

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The following polls include votes for Back To Life... Unfortunately:

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