Moonmist

by Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence

Mystery
1986

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1-5 of 5


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Classic Infocom style and play. A bit dated now but enjoyable still., March 13, 2022

Moonmist is an interactive fiction computer game written by Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence and published by Infocom in 1986.

** Be sure to grab the "extras" package on the internet - originally paper brochures that came in the original packaging, they will enhance your experience if you can grab them as a pdf and read prior to starting the game.

The player's character is a young detective, asked by friend Tamara Lynd to investigate her new home of Tresyllian Castle in Cornwall, England. Tamara has recently become engaged to the castle's lord, Jack Tresyllian. She was very happy until she began seeing what appeared to be The White Lady, a ghost who has allegedly haunted the castle for centuries.

As if seeing a ghost wasn't nerve-racking enough, she's also begun to fear for her life. Is Tamara's imagination just overly excited from living in a large old castle, or is someone really trying to kill her? And if her life is in danger, is it from a ghost or someone using it as a disguise?

I enjoyed the atmosphere created, and exploring an old coastal castle and its secrets was fun. It could have used more depth and playability (perhaps instead of splitting it into 4 parts that doesn't really extend playability, just shorten it?)

Interesting twist when I realised the consequences to answering my favorite colour at the start, and not just that the guest room happened to be made in that colour!

Well worth a few hours of your time.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Classic but still a jolly jape, April 11, 2020
by eldis (UK)

Interesting playing a game that was set in Cornwall, UK by the sea but doesn't allow you to go explore outside much.
The castle is quite interesting and easy to explore. The mysteries are all pretty simple and straight forward and 1 or 2 clues allow you to solve the main one. The other ones can be solved by just exploring everywhere and examining everything.
I liked the layout of the castle but it did feel very simplified. There was also a classic Infocom maze, but thankfully easy to navigate.
I enjoyed the game and it's a good way into the IF genre.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A weaker Infocom title; a mystery for kids with four modes (UPDATED), February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: Infocom

Edit:I found the reason the game felt weaker to me in another review:

The room descriptions are in the feelies!

This explains why the game felt so lame. Random objects seemed to appear out of nowhere, and major rooms seemed to have no description at all. But the feelies seemed rich and interesting. I didn't realize that you were supposed to constantly refer to the feelies as you go.

I wonder if this was a way to make the game fit on a smaller disk with four variants.

This makes the game SO much better. Thanks for the tip, Victor!

*****************************************************

For those who have access to the feelies (such as in the iPad Lost Treasures of Infocom app), the backstories in the manual for this game were very enjoyable, much more than the game itself. I thought I should throw that out there.

This game is similar to An Act of Murder, where there are numerous possible suspects, multiple clues, and a variety of possible variations determined at the beginning of the game.

Both games were weaker, I feel, because they had to be adapted to work with multiple endings. For instance, in Moonmist, you find 'clues' that are just called 'clues'. Not scraps of paper, shreds of fabric, cards, etc. Just 'clues'. I assume they are different in each of the variations when you examine them (I only felt like playing through the 'green' version).

Moonmist is a kids game. This makes the game a bit harder at time; for instance, the room descriptions and directions get annoying at times.

The game is on a tight schedule, so you may have to restart before some characters leave.

The game has a cute idea where it calls you by your first name, and also by your title and last name when appropriate.

You play in a large castle with seven guests, investigating a supposed ghost that haunts the castle. Several mysterious deaths have occurred recently, and your friend is marrying the new Lord of the castle.

I don't recommend this game. I do recommend the manual.


Not Much of a Mystery, But Fun, March 7, 2014

I really wanted to like this game. The set-up is breezy and to the point, hitting a lot of the high points you'd expect in a certain type of mystery (I love it when a game straight out tells me I'm good-looking, brilliant, rich, and have good taste in clothes).

The problem, for this mystery buff, is that the actual mystery wasn't much of one. This is actually a treasure hunt where collecting all the treasures ("evidence") earns you the ending. The motives and their reveals just aren't tied that well into the environment or the story (on my first play through, the first evidence I found was a signed notebook detailing the villain's plans), which is understandable given the multiple potential story lines, but really took away from the game itself.

There's also no emotional involvement from the protagonist; when you unmask the killer, you're given the opportunity to read some of the why as an author's afterword, but it's sketchy and leaves out little things like "what happens to the person I just arrested" and "how does the protagonist feel about this". Even endings where the hero could be expected to have emotional involvement never discuss it or the ramifications of the hero's success.

I think, in large part, that the professionalism and just plain inviting writing -- these are authors who know their stuff -- really set up narrative expectations that that games of that era weren't usually designed to meet. It's not fair to ding a game based on my expectations, but damn, this was fun and could have been so much more so if there had just been a little more story and a little more resolution.

The puzzles unfold easily and smoothly, with most being clued so boldly even I couldn't miss them. I did find it a little tedious to wander around the castle looking for rooms that fit the clues. I'll admit it; I'm spoiled by modern convenience and whenever I get a "go to" command I use it excessively and often have no mental layout of the game. I liked that if I ran into someone along the way the command would stop so I could chat with them.

As a treasure hunt, and as a bit of history, and even as a fun game for someone who isn't expecting much of a mystery (or who is new to the IF format), this is one to play. Just be aware that you'll have to fill in the blanks on the emotional aspects yourself.


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Four enjoyable mysteries, September 7, 2010
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Like Seastalker, which I reviewed earlier this week, Moonmist is an Infocom game aimed at younger interactors. However, Moonmist is far more successful. Rather than writing down to children, or assuming that for a kid being given responsibility is enough of a thrill, we are treated to a solid combination of gothic horror and detective stories that is quite enjoyable for readers of any age.

This is not to say that Moonmist's plot and characterisation are deep: this is standard stuff. We are in an old castle. The previous lover of the young local lord has died or been killed; his new lover, a female friend of ours, has been threatened. In addition, a ghost haunts the castle. And finally, the previous lord has hidden a fabled treasure somewhere on the premises and uses hidden clues and audio-taped messages to direct us towards it. The eight guests, all of whom might be somehow implicated in the plot, are quite stereotypical: the older female artist, the grumpy doctor, the young débutante, and so on. Nevertheless: stuff is going on, the characterisations are miles beyond those of Seastalker, the British setting is British, there is atmosphere, the descriptions are almost lush, and we even get Edgar Allen Poe quotes.

After an introductory sequence, gameplay mostly consists of searching the castle for clues. There are of course secret passages, cryptic clues (including wordplay and riddles), and lots of hidden objects. You will be spending a lot of your time walking through the castle, which is large, and although you will unfortunately need to read some of the room descriptions from the feelies (hello, copy protection scheme!) this is generally enjoyable. Plus, you can instantly go to any room, person or object you have previously seen. With several different tasks to perform (follow the clues to the treasure, find out who the ghost is, find out what really happened to the dead woman) you won't quickly run out of ideas, especially since the difficulty isn't high. One tip: if you successfully "search" something, do it again, because there can be more than one object hidden.

At the beginning of the game, you are asked to state your favourite colour. This seems an innocuous question, but it is actually very important: choosing red, blue, green or yellow starts one of four completely different scenarios. (Choosing another colour will randomly select one.) The treasure will be different, hidden in a different place, and different clues will lead to it. The ghost will be someone else, and the real story behind the death will be different too. Thus, Moonmist is really four games in one; and although solving one will help you solve the others, it will far from make it automatic.

All in all, then, very enjoyable. It's not in the end truly memorable, but as a relaxed gothic detective romp, there is nothing wrong with it either. Three-and-a-half stars.



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