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Where "old school" means Homer and Virgil, January 26, 2018
Barry Volain, the author of Myth makes no secret that the puzzles in this work are grounded in well-known Greek and Roman mythology. In the "readme" file accompanying the game file, he even goes so far as to recommend reading Bulfinch's Mythology (which is out of copyright and available via Project Gutenberg and at this web site) as a primer. In the era of Google and Wikipedia, such preparation is probably not necessary.
Myth is austerely minimalist. Descriptions are short for both rooms and objects. Many words mentioned in the text aren't recognized by the parser. It falls victim to a few First-Timer Foibles, including laconic locations, oral offenses (though only mildly), and close-mouthed characters. Yet somehow, this work did intrigue me, and I felt compelled to play through to the end.
I wish I could say that my patience paid off. Instead, it wore thin. After making about 100 points worth of progress, I hit something of a wall. As I could find no hints other than the walkthrough, my only choice was to read it and hope I didn't get too much given away.
Of course, I saw several things I didn't want to, including some things that I had tried to do but hadn't used the right word for. Once I realized synonym sickness was one of the first-timer foibles I was up against, I was a lot less willing to sit and puzzle things out when I was stuck. Doubly-so when I realized there were areas you could only visit once in a game with an inventory limit.
It's really too bad, because there were quite a few puzzles in the "hard but fair" category that I ended up missing out on this way. In the interest of letting others avoid that, here are my own hints -- restricted to extreme guess-the-verb problems and things that are basically impossible to figure out without mind-reading:
#1 (Spoiler - click to show)The sapling (yes, it's important)(Spoiler - click to show) - you need to get it(Spoiler - click to show) - with something sharp(Spoiler - click to show) - it's for making a weapon(Spoiler - click to show) - a spear(Spoiler - click to show) - like the ancients made them without metal(Spoiler - click to show) - "sharpen sapling" is part of it(Spoiler - click to show) - they were also treated some way(Spoiler - click to show) - for hardening(Spoiler - click to show) - "put sapling in <fire source>"
#2 (Spoiler - click to show)The grapes (yes, they're important)(Spoiler - click to show) - you need them to make wine(Spoiler - click to show) - you'll know how to make wine when you find the right equipment(Spoiler - click to show) - it's not the oak bucket, it's something with purple stains(Spoiler - click to show) - put the grapes in it(Spoiler - click to show) - how can you squish them? can't get in with them or stand on them or crush them or press them(Spoiler - click to show) - "step on grapes" is the magic phrase here
#3 (Spoiler - click to show)fighting things(Spoiler - click to show) - at least one critical battle appears to be semi-randomized, save before fighting and try again if you die, if you don't die the same way every time, keep trying
Don't worry, there are multiple layers of spoiler tags in the above, so you will have to click multiple times to be completely spoiled.
The size of this game surprised me. There must be around 75 locations. You will want to create a map for this one, complete with notes of the objects found in each location. It's probably too big to fit it all in your head.
Some of the puzzle designs in this work are clever. While in some cases the cliff notes of mythological texts provide virtual step-by-step instructions, in others the author takes license with the mythology to make you think a little sideways. This work would have benefited tremendously from a more literary touch and more thorough programming.
It's unfortunate that the scoring is implemented in such a way that necessary and irreversible steps don't always award points. It's a bit unnerving, leaving you wondering whether you're on the right track or heading for a dead end. Although I believe you can get this game into an unwinnable state, it's generally safe to assume that anything that appears to make things happen is a step in the right direction -- there is little interactivity that isn't directly aimed at the conclusion.
Another note about scoring: The walkthrough seems to indicate that its author got less than the maximum points. I got more than him, but less than the max. Out of curiosity, I decompiled the source code to look for those last lousy points, but it seems that they should all be awarded if you win the game. It looks like some actions may award points if you use one verb but not its synonym, so I wouldn't worry about it if you finish with less than 300.