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About the Story
This is the first scenario written with a custom browser based development environment. It is a single room adventure with a strong puzzle orientation (the author is a puzzle and games developer). It employs a couple of different features usually not found in standard IF stories.
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Number of Reviews: 1
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The premise is a familiar one: You find yourself in an unfamiliar room with no clear exit. Using the resources in your surroundings you must puzzle your way out. And yet, this game has a refreshing take on the concept by focusing more on brain teaser type puzzles.
Rather than having the urgency of a desperate escape the gameplay feels more casual with its use of riddles, sudoku, and trivia-like activities. The objective is to find the combination to the door that will presumably allow you to escape. The formula (this part is not really a spoiler, but I will tag it anyway) (Spoiler - click to show) is scribbled on a tissue in the waste bin. It reads:
sudoku(5,5) * 1000 + sudoku(5,6)^2 + riddle(sara) - song(beatles)
This formula presents an enticing challenge but not one I managed to complete. The section of the formula that I DID solve (Spoiler - click to show) was for “riddle(sara).” The answer is 5.
Inside the (Spoiler - click to show) desk is an iPhone that allows you to call Crafty, the person who decided to stick you in the basement. This functions as an amazing hint system because you can ask for help with any of the puzzles. I do wish he had more graded assistance. With the sudoku puzzle I was expecting him to provide guidance on how to solve a sudoku puzzle, maybe providing an answer for a few of the squares. Instead, he only offers to give you (Spoiler - click to show) the solution which is "For the Sudoku solution, bring up the puzzle and then click just to the right of the help icon at the top." When you click on the icon if gives a brief overview of sudoku but not enough to be helpful (nor does it provide a solution).
When I finally managed to hack out a finished sudoku puzzle I was unable to incorporate it into the formula. I must admit, this is not my strongest area of expertise. Sudoku fiends out there can probably run laps around me. If you are one of them, I would love to hear your take on the puzzle. Eventually, this is where I ended. I had already (Spoiler - click to show) searched the room, found the Walkman and the cassette tape, but had no other points to work from.
A fun note is that you can ask Crafty about a LOT of things. Even things that have nothing to do with this game or interactive fiction. Dolphins, carrots, all sorts of topics. If I am being perfectly honest, I probably spent almost as much time trying out different queries than playing the game itself.
The game is custom parser and has an extremely simple yet polished appearance. The screen space is a white rectangle with rounded corners, outlined in blue. The text is easy to read and is sometimes uses in game links to click on. This simple design is then punctuated with some nice visuals that incorporate a choice-based format. First there is a decryption puzzle with boxes and stylized buttons that you click on to input each letter. Solving this gives you instructions on how to unlock the iPhone. Then there is a spiffy sudoku puzzle that lets you “erase” and keep track of your answers as you play. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, these features make the “game inside a game” mechanic incredibly user friendly.
The visual design also shines through the game’s hint system. When you call Crafty, the game makes it look like you are having a text message conversation. You then “hang up” to return to the game.
I only scraped the surface of the story. Crafty is not some villain keen on tormenting the player into solving his puzzles. When you first call him, he introduces himself as Crafty the Puzzle Master, and his reason for trapping you in the basement is because he thinks that you like puzzles. Playful fun. Then again, I never made it to the end. Perhaps there is a plot twist that I am not aware of.
This is a new game and even though I did not complete the entire thing I just wanted to throw my thoughts out there. Normally single room games are not a huge draw for me, but this game made an impression. If there are any updates or new developments, I would be eager to replay it.
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Fun single-room games by Jeff Sonas
My kids (9 and 12) like to play IF games on my phone during car drives so they are looking for something quick and fun that doesn't require much mapping. What single-room adventures are out there?
Games with unique hint systems by delano
I'm looking for games that offer hints in any way, except for printing them in sequence on the screen. For example: characters that offer hints; objects that, when examined or used in a certain way, suggest actions to the player; etc.