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14th Place - 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2006)
Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 2006 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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You are a reporter in a small town at the northern edge of the known world. Beyond that point stands a far too lively, and we have to admit it, somewhat scarry wilderness.
For you, the excitment of that manly life was originaly very high; but is gradually fading away, and is being replaced by boredom. However, suddenly some mysterious events take place in your town. Something is finallay happening ! It might be the chance to conduct the investigation of your life...
And as your investigation progresses, you are gradually shifting into horror.
The story is a very conventional Lovecraftian story, with most elements that a reader might expect : a remote town, an ageless cult, monsters from an other dimention... But it includes a very simple, but clever, twist in which really enlightens the whole thing, as well as many previous lovecraftian stories that we could have read before.
The setting, at the edge of the world, is rather well described and quite intriguing. The story unfolds relatively well. Even if I felt that a bit of narrative logic between the various events was missing. The puzzles are rather conventional, but fit well enough in the story.
However, to the technical point of view the game is definitelly not at top level :
- Many typos (For example, an altar is named an "alter").
- Room connections do not always fit with the description. (Somewhere, a room is referred as being east. However to go there, you have to go west). Or sometimes, the way in does not match the way out (You enter a place going SE, and leave it going SE too).
- Some room connections are suggested in the text, but with no specific direction given. So, you end up trying all of them.
- When turning on a specific device, my interpreter experienced a serious slowdown.
As I suggested before, if the game does definitely not shine by its technical realisation, and is little more than an average horror story, there is definitelly something that it does very well :
The author found a very simple way of explaining the concept of things coming from an other dimention, and to justify their unstable, horrible shape in our world.
So yes, that game was worth a try, had me thinking, and I understand why "Evil tabby cat" included it next to the very good "Ecdysis" in his list of disturbing games.
This is one of the more unusual interactive fiction games out there. The story at first is generally Lovecraftian; horrors from beyond, a dark, mostly deserted old town, madness, etc.
You play a newspaper reporter who lives in a town on the edge of civilization. You are investigating a number of disappearances. Things get weird.
I had some trouble even getting out of the first room, but after that, things sped up. You spend a lot of time wandering around the smallish map, trying to see what happens next.
The game is definitely unpolished. For instance, opening a certain box said that "you see Filled_Right". There are typos and other issues.
Overall, the story is fun. There is a mind-blowing twist in the middle of the game that really took me by surprise, making this game worthwhile to play for that reason alone.
This if game is really worth 4 stars. It's fun, it's intriguing and keeps you going.
The story unfolds itself in a balanced manner, each important move unravels something more about the plot — soon you'll find yourself immersed in a true horror tale.
The map is not too big as to be tyring, yet not too small as to be claustrophobic. The author cleverly managed to create an environment which changes as the story progresses. Also, there aren't too many objects to handle, yet each object requires deep thinking about its possibile uses and applications.
Also, the story hints play a fundamental role in guiding the player toward a correct understanding of the way to move about, the goals to achieve, and the significance of the various items he/she comes across.
There aren't any really frustrating bits in the game, though some puzzle solutions are not easy to guess. I've managed to solve it in an afternoon, but I admit I had to peek at the walkthrough twice because I couldn't come up with any more ideas — yet, if I had payed more attention to the hints hydden in the descriptions, I could have worked it out myself.
Some hints are deceiving, the author plays on the player's hopes and fears and lets him/her derived conclusion which, later on in the game, will contribute to the plot twists.
The narrative atmosphere is great, it start soberly and quickly builds up. The worldbuilding is rather fantastic, unusual, rich.
The game has more than one ending, not all of them being the best one.
The game mechanics could have been slightly more polished here and there (some pareser responses are confusing, evidently due to unpolished responses controls) yet they don't interfere with the actual gameplay. Also, some synonims are not well implemented, and overall the player as to stick to items names as presented. I often experienced switches in the referred object, ie: I examine an object but further commands then refer to the previous object handled, which did cause some misunderstanding in some rooms.
Still, the game was original, entertaining and fun all along, what more can you ask?
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