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About the Story
"A really short interactive comic tragedy." Humourously based on Infocom's Enchanter trilogy, your goal is to run off a newly completed report in triplicate. But you'll need the appropriate spell scrolls...
Very short Zork homage, centered on a throwaway joke in the Sorcerer manual. Cute and occasionally funny, though it's so small that there aren't many crevices to explore once you've finished it.
-- Duncan Stevens
Review by Francesco Bova from SPAG #20
3 rooms, 2 characters, 8 tangible objects, and 1 joke; that's all that there is to David Fillmore's 1999 offering Perilous Magic. Perilous Magic is one of a growing number of 'bite-sized' pieces of non-COMP IF that have become quite popular over the last year. 'Bite-sized' IF is interesting in that there's usually one convention that's being pushed or one joke that's being promoted and the games are typically finishable in a few minutes. Often, these smaller games are a nice break away from the bigger pieces out there that can seem more laborious than fun to finish.
Perilous Magic takes place in the Zork/Enchanter universe and is entirely built around a historical reference from the accompanying material in the Infocom game Enchanter. The game actually reminded me a bit of the film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where the story of Hamlet is told from the confused perspective of the aforementioned bit players. With Perilous Magic, we look at a bit of Zorkian history -- specifically the misuse of a spell resulting in disaster -- through the eyes of the person who caused the disaster. The puzzles are straight forward and the goal easy to attain. The end result is amusing but alas, even for 'bite-sized' IF, the game is a little too sparse with many interesting options left untouched... [more at source page]
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Review by Duncan Stevens from SPAG #21
How great an influence do the games of Infocom still have on today's IF? Hard to say, but there must be some presence there if an offhand remark in one of Infocom's manuals can turn into a game in its own right, as is the case with David Fillmore's Perilous Magic. The joke in question was a reference to a great fire--which, the manual said, was caused by some bureaucrat meaning to cast the ZEMDOR spell ("turn original into triplicate") but slipping up and casting the ZIMBOR spell ("turn one really big city into lots of tiny, little ashes"). It's a cute joke, and as long as you know the source, Perilous Magic is a cute game... [more at source]
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Calling this work a game seems to miss the mark; instead, the overwhelming impression I got was that it is the result of the author's studied effort to learn Inform 6.
In a beginner's shop class at school, the focus is on learning to use the tools to create something basic and functional but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. This thoroughly pragmatic product is in exactly that style -- a simple scenario, solidly constructed.
I would like to add "with no frills" to that description, but that would be inaccurate. There are, in fact, several frills -- a built-in hint system (which is ridiculous overkill in this context), plus several hidden items and joke responses to non-obvious behavior. The thing is, unless you are perusing the supplied source code, you are unlikely to encounter most of these details; clearly, they were implemented more for the author's amusement than the players.
Even though I don't believe this was a serious attempt to create something entertaining, Perilous Magic is instructive for the aspiring author and worth reviewing simply as a case study to compare the playing experience vs. the code supporting it, especially when it comes to deciding which interaction elements matter enough to be worth the implementation cost. That's a design skill (not a coding skill) that seems hard-won for many authors, but which quickly makes itself evident in the best examples of IF.
The game is set in modern times, but contains elements of a Zorkian adventure: spell scrolls. So you basically have a modern slice-of-life setting with a modern aim to be achieved, but to finish the game you have to draw on casting a spell (not much of a spoiler, the player is going to find this out very soon). The game is easily solved and ends with a joke.
I did not play the whole bunch of Infocom games when I was young, so there was no nostalgia effect for me. Nevertheless I found the story entertaining enough to make me find a solution. The method how to solve it was easy to find, the trick is very obvious.
Recommended mainly for beginners -- it is short and does not cause much frustration. Veterans of IF will probably feel unchallenged. Then again the game is very short, so there won't be much time lost.