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About the Story
Board that Drain-Bound El for an adventure that could only happen in Erebus.
16th Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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A game of two gimmicks: it takes place largely in total darkness, and the mechanics centre around wordplay. Among its many problems is that players may take quite a while to fully notice either of these.
Like earlier wordplay games (Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail Of It, Ad Verbum) Erebus mostly eschews coherent plot and builds itself around word puzzles. The tone is wacky Zorkian, and the writing's main strength lies in mildly amusing silliness. The setting is the main divergence from this: islands in a dark subterranean lake, with an atmosphere not unlike like the game's namesake Hunter, in Darkness. This, combined with the opening sequence, make Erebus feel rather like two games that aren't quite on speaking terms; a Zorkian wordplay game set in a wacky hell, and a moodily surreal game about darkness and silence.
The core gameplay is about constructing short words from letters that you've found. The most annoying thing about Erebus is that using a letter consumes it; a replacement appears where it was originally found, and this entails a great deal of unnecessary trudging around the map. The second most annoying thing is that some of its puzzle solutions, particularly towards the end, feel quite arbitrary; this exacerbates the first problem, because the only real way of working the solution out is to try making lots of different words. Erebus shoots itself in the foot by saddling its fun central mechanic with tedious makework.
This game has you descend on a train to the depths of Erebus, where you have to find your way around in total darkness.
This game is centered on wordplay, involving letters (similar in a vague way to Threediopolis).
I don't want to spoil the main mechanic, but I also found it very hard to figure out the main mechanic. Lack of cluing seems to be one of the biggest issues here.
Failed to grab me, April 14, 2013
This one... failed to grab me.
I mean, I had some amusing moments, but they were accidental, such as this bit during the opening sequence, in which the PC is having a bit of a bad day on a very crowded train:
Two or more of your neighbors seem to be competing for the right to stand on top of your feet.I heard there's some clever shtick to the puzzles here, but the game failed to inspire motivation in me, and upon asking for a hint the game angered me by telling me I hadn't explored everywhere. It was true, I hadn't explored everywhere, but that was because exits were not always conveniently mentioned in room descriptions. Silly me for not exploring exits that I didn't know existed.
You can't find anything relevant by that name.
If you are new to interactive fiction, you may like to try typing HELP.
So then I was at the point where I started randomly typing directions just to see where the exits were. (ARGH!) Then it occurred to me to see if there was an EXITS verb, which there was, but then there was this clunky addendum at the end of all the room descriptions: From here you can go northeast to an unknown location, southeast to The Place You Just Came From, and east to an unknown location. How hard is it, in a game with a map requiring exploration, to seamlessly blend exits into room descriptions? Not difficult. People have been doing this since the 1970s.
In some fairness, the landscape is dark. Instead of operating on visuals, you're operating on touch and sound. Some of that's done well, but I failed to grasp a lot of what was going on around me, and I don't think it was the lack of visuals. Things just weren't articulated to me very well. I think you could still craft comprehensible room descriptions with stimuli gained through non-visual cues.
Anyway, I got pretty frustrated with this one, and it wasn't that engaging to me, and when I did find out what the goals of the game were (by typing >GOALS) I realized that things really. Were. Not. Well. Clued. At. All. I also spoiled myself by typing >SECRETS to find out what the shtick was. Huh, the shtick might have actually been fun, were I not already so frustrated.
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