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About the Story
Awakening on the ground next to an open grave, you have no recollection of how you came to be there. Do you investigate the nearby church and graveyard, or leave well enough alone?
1st Place - Saugus.net Halloween Contest 2009
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Awakening is a short to moderate length horror adventure of likeable clarity. To solve the existential mystery of your identity there are two main things you need to do in this game: Pay attention to the descriptions of the rain-drenched church grounds you'll find yourself wandering and pay attention to the automatic feedback you'll receive from your character's senses. Nor should you forget that you woke up by an open grave when the game began. Like I said, three things.
Awakening won the Saugus.net Halloween Contest of 2009 and delivers a Halloweenish variation on the IF amnesia theme. Though a little overladen with adjectives, it has a strong mood of ceaseless rain and mud and a good way with the burden of the numerous physical sensations experienced by your character. Your bedraggled state gives you strong motivation to try to improve your lot by exploring, or at least to try to do something loftier than mope about by a grave.
The implementation is rusty in some places but then surprisingly detailed in others. While there are a handful of inflexible moments, the game as a whole isn't complex enough to be undone by them. Awakening's mood is sustained by good location writing and its world is small enough that you don't have to retrace too much ground if you get stuck. Some mystery, some mostly staple puzzling and a moody locale of small inventory make for a satisfying goth horror outing.
Awakening is a fair effort, and the first effort (to my knowledge) by Pete Gardner. Giving away the plot would give away the game, but let's just say it's a believable -- in the horror genre anyways -- amnesia scenario. Don't let that scare you off, though. The game has a dreary atmosphere and a few puzzles that compensate.
Also, Awakening is a short game. Most players should be able to finish in under 30 minutes; and 30 minutes feels just about right. If it was any longer, it would seem forced.
As far as mechanics go, some important details aren't clued well. Disambiguation problems crop up (especially when entering places). A rather nasty bug late in the game allows you to put the game in an unwinnable state. This area is the game's weakest.
Despite the dreary atmosphere, Awakening didn't really resonate emotionally. The areas that it paints will stay with you, but you'll remember them as you do a house tour and not as a story. The lack of NPCs may be also to blame here.
On the whole, it's a fair game for a first effort. If you've got a few minutes on a rainy day, check it out.
This is a relatively straightforward game designed to deliver a particular atmosphere rather than a unique gameplay experience. Since this game was part of the 2009 Saugus.net Halloween Ghost Story Contest, you can probably imagine what that atmosphere is. On the whole, it succeeds in its endeavor.
The player finds himself waking from a muddy grave in the middle of a torrential downpour. Darkness and gloom permeate the environment and force the player to proceed towards the only light that can be seen. The player suffers from amnesia and can’t seem to figure out who he is or, for that matter, what he is. Much of the game is spent lumbering around the dozen or so rooms looking for some way of clearing the fuzziness from his brain. Actually accomplishing that task depends on whether or not, by the time you reach that which you desire, you’ve figured out (in a meta-sense, the PC remains in the dark) what you really are.
More directly: (Spoiler - click to show) It’s apparent from early on in the game that you are undead. If rising from a grave in the opening text doesn’t do it for you, the recurring reminders that you seem to be dying inside your cold body makes it pretty plain. But which form of undead remained a question for me up until you encounter another person. The game indicates that this NPC is ‘alive with life in the way you are not’ and then continues the constant reminders that you are incredibly thirsty. All attempts to drink either the bottle of alcohol or the NPC itself are refuted, however, because the proper command is ‘bite’. While this method of drinking blood is very common in vampire myths, the game itself never hints in any way that a ‘bite’ command is implemented.
I only got stuck once in the game, and that was plainly my fault as I missed an exit description in a room in which I wasn’t expecting to have additional exits. Otherwise, this game is pretty enjoyable. Great atmosphere, easily decipherable puzzles, and a somewhat interesting method of NPC control that fit very well into the ‘story’, for what it is. No real bugs to speak of, either, though I didn’t spend a lot of time hammering on it. Took me near an hour to figure out because of my aforementioned ignorance, but I’d say a more observant person could finish this off in ten to twenty minutes.
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