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About the Story
In this homage to Indiana Jones, you play as Tex Bonaventure, an adventurer and treasure hunter. After three days of exploring the deep dark swamps of the Everglades, you've finally found your destination. You've found what the natives call Cukovcatv Em Oheskatv Vhesaketv, the Temple of the Water of Life.
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"Aquavit" is a liqueur that my grandparents would recommend if someone was a bit weak in the knees or fatigued. It means "life-water". A small shot of it would get you back on your feet.
Tex Bonaventure and the Temple of the Water of Life bears some similarities to that liqueur. It's short, strong and it picks you right up.
The entire game is one funny poke at Indiana Jones tropes. The deathtraps in the temple are not any more over the top than in the movies, but the descriptions (and the protagonist's reactions to them) make it obvious how improbable and inappropriate some of those movie traps are. I bet the designers of the boobytrapped temples could have made a good living designing text-adventures in the eighties.
What appears to be a funny comedy at first does reveal itself to be a clever little collection of interconnected puzzles. After dying a few times, I found myself taking the game a lot more seriously. It became a matter of pride to not let this Indie-parody mock me and my adventuring skills.
Lighthearted comedy at the expense of our beloved action-archeologist, good puzzles and a general tone of "Don't take things too seriously, and if you die, you can always undo." Fun!
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my 2013 IFComp blog.)
Tex Bonaventure and the Temple of the Water of Life (or TBATTOTWOL… or maybe just TBAT) is a likeable and rather difficult to solve off your own back Indiana Jones-styled adventure. Tex is less competent and cool than Indy but he's no klutz, and the game doesn't play up his goofiness at the expense of dangerous puzzles or basic seriousness of adventuring. TBAT is chock full of traps, fast deaths and adventure movie quotes, the latter often appearing in the form of achievement-like score boosts. TBAT is a little short of the programming or prose polish that would really get it glowing, but it does have a good sense of danger and suspense.
The basic adventuring schtick of examining one thing, then examining something revealed by the first thing, then examining something revealed by the second thing, etc., is well executed on many occasions in TBAT, and this is complementary to the suspense of time-limit traps, like when a spiked ceiling is descending towards your head. Some wisecracks which happen to hit the mark and a plethora of wacky/gory deaths round out a tone which is recognisable from plenty of adventure films and games.
Since the game is named for its hero, I would have liked to see his personality shine through more clearly in the prose. The nature of some of the humour used is such that it can feel like the narrator is trying to be funny in general, rather than that I've got a window to Tex's thoughts and that they are funny, or illuminating of him. The game is a good romp through a dangerous temple in any case.
I had to visit the hint menus and walkthrough file with increasing frequency throughout TBAT. Games which lead me to cleave to the walkthrough have been known to aggravate me on multiple fronts, but this one held my attention to the end. Part of that is because even though I can't imagine coming up with some of the solutions myself, they were generally quick to execute and fairly self-contained. This is not a game where you'll get stuck, check the help file and discover you need to retreat 50 moves to fix your situation.
This was a fun game, but some of the puzzles could use some re-working or better cluing to help avoid frustration. One of the earliest puzzles had a very complex solution, which required the player to infer something in another room which was invisible--it was very frustrating! The red herrings in this section were doubly frustrating considering how secret the puzzle solution was.
I'm looking forward to seeing this game in a second version--it has some promise, but isn't particularly kind to a player. Something as simple as post-mortem hints would really improve the experience from a player's perspective I suspect.
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