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About the Story
You are about to drive out to meet some friends for a camping trip on Halloween night. Everything seems to be going according to plan, but the unexpected can always occur. If it did, you would need to rely on your wits. Hope that you are not scared out of them.
6th Place - Spring Thing 2011
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Number of Reviews: 4
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...but don't play this one.
Hallow Eve aspires to be a campy 80's slasher romp, but falls apart on weak technicals and poor design.
Problems include: finicky verbs ("saw [object]" doesn't work while you're holding the saw but "cut [object] with saw" does); sit-and-wait plot trigger; an area you're cautioned you could get lost in and have no reason to explore, but which contains a critical item you'll discover you need while on the opposite side of the map, although there's still no reason to think the boring maze-area might have such a thing; occasional plot-on-rails despite superior alternatives (someone's dying right now but you have to walk someone else to her car); poorly responsive NPCs; and the game's entirely unplayable without the walkthrough.
It's the author's first work, and considering that, it's far more substantial as a game than many learning pieces. I was torn between leaving 1 star out of 5, which seems harsh and discouraging, and 2, which seems slightly generous.
There's a good lesson here about seeking feedback early in the development process while puzzles and plot are still being sketched out in even the briefest of design and puzzle documents. Also a great opportunity to check out the IF Theory Reader (edited by Kevin Jackson-Mead and J. Robinson Wheeler), and Jimmy Maher's Let's Tell a Story Together (A History of Interactive Fiction).
I think, if somebody is going to enjoy this game, they have to be tolerant of uneven games where some aspects are better-honed than others. Let's discuss the things it does well. Well, it's kind of a fun romp. Early on, it reveals a couple different backstories and seeing how they were incorporated into the overall plot was entertaining. Also, most of the puzzles are pretty fair, parser-battling aside.
One of the things I like most is that the game isn't deviously fatal. Most of the baddies (yeah, there are several) are of the Transylvania variety, where you can stand around them indefinitely without receiving any harm (that comparison is a little unfair as some Transylvania enemies were not so kind). The game ends up being more fun than scary.
Personally, the map is a tad larger than I would like. There's a forest just large enough to hide a couple items and make trekking through it somewhat annoying (but not impossible without a map).
As mentioned before, the parser can be pretty unforgiving, like the (Spoiler - click to show)bowl of candies that only accepts >GET CANDY.
"Hallow Eve" won't go on my must-play lists, but I think that people that open it should stick with it long enough to solve at least a couple of its puzzles. To that extent, it is successful popcorn fluff just like the '80s slasher films it draws its inspiration from.
I had fun playing Hallow Eve, although I grabbed the post-comp, bug-fixed version. I had read a few other reviews regarding implementation issues. So my expectations were properly set. That being said, the post-comp version seems pretty cleaned up, going by what other reviewers have said.
The main thing I liked about Hallow Eve is how completely we are brought into the world the author envisioned, warts, bombastic energy and all. While playing, I got a bit of nostalgia for the time in my life when I was totally engaged with that same sort of new-author passion for IF. I suspect that Michael Phipps has some trouble imagining what a lot of players might do because I definitely have the same problem when I put together my stuff. (And of course, the good news is that it's correctable.)
The premise (slasher flick) is great for IF, and Phipps puts his own take on things to where I felt this is a good example of IF as a genre piece. It's not going to turn you into a horror movie fan if you hate them, but this hit a lot of the genre conventions while still keeping me interested. I wanted to save those poor gals! Some of those poor guys could eat a bag of pants! I soon realized it was gonna be tough to save anyone. But honestly, with crazed, armed lunatics shambling about, it sort of is.
There's a lot of really ambitious stuff going on with this game -- you've got a bunch of NPCs in the woods (where they can scatter easily) drinking liquids, talking to each other and having their own agendas. It doesn't all come together smoothly, but I love that Hallow Eve isn't intimidated by things said to be tough in IF.
I guess my main suggestion regarding Phipps's next game is mainly to really listen to how people talk, and write accordingly. For instance, there was a bit where one of the girls says "hehe." If your game is going for text-speak-as-dialogue that's fine, but if the author doesn't make it completely known that he or she is aware what's going on, it can be a bit distracting.
But yeah, this is a good first attempt at interactive fiction. I both applaud the attempt, and ask that nobody notice during my applause that one of my hands is actually a giant fish hook!! **screeches violin**
From the first paragraph, you know this game will be bad. Scary Caps, grammar problems, and point of view problems scream off the screen. The content? Well, it fits.
The game channels the spirit of low-grade slasher/gore films, and the setup is strictly by the numbers: teens meet in an out of the way place to drink and have sex. Monster shows up. Dead bodies ensue. Sure, the girls have mildly humorous names, but that's it for camp -- besides the hackneyed plot.
Technical problems abound. You can't actually converse with anyone (getting no response from attractive women would be realistic, but not from your friends); you can drink an endless amount of beer and never get drunk or have to pee; you can't drive your own car.
Advancing the plot means a lot of waiting. It's like watching one of those lame movies and having to hit the play button every few moments. Ugh. Also, the number of profanities is off the charts. Double ugh.
I agree with RandomExile's comments about the plot being on rails, although that may be too gracious. The plot is in a straitjacket. Maybe that was the point, so that you could role-play one of those imbeciles who sits around and waits to be carved up by the monster. This is especially frustrating in one of the character's death scenes, where you just sit by and watch. This might be fiction, but it's sure not interactive.
Hallow Eve is nasty, boring, not funny, and not self-aware. In short, it's just like a Friday the 13th film -- best off avoided.