Present Quest

by Errol Elumir profile

Slice of life
2020

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Number of Reviews: 5
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A few unrelated, odd puzzles that come together at the end, January 22, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: Adventuron 2020 Christmas Comp

So about two-thirds of the way through Present Quest, I was baffled as to how and why it had won the Adventuron 2020 Christmas Jam. The puzzles seemed facile and, quite bluntly, a few things didn't add up. Everything was clunky and empty. Did nice graphics really go so far? Were the busy-work puzzles more captivating than I thought? The first puzzle, I needed a hint on, and I double-checked, and yeah, it was too obscure and vague! Then they got unrealistic. And what's up with the short names? Was I off-base, or we the fifteen people who rated the game? Why did I need the food and energy gauge, when they were so easy to recharge? I mean, yeah, content warning and such, and maybe people emphasized with the author, but a pity vote seemed too much. It was a bit odd the author latched on to a meme that peaked in 2008.

Well, by the end my perspective had changed. And it forced me to reconsider certain things about my own life. It made me think about my own time-wasters and why I did them, and whether or not they really helped. My past is probably different enough from yours that you will get something very different from it. Let's just say that I read the content warning, assumed a certain incident in the game was the bit referred to, and said "okay, that's bad, but I don't feel affected by things."

What is PQ at its core? To me, it felt like Progress Quest, where you progress just by having the app open, though I think there's a better explanation for the name in the spoilers than you finding a sligtly cringey Christmas present for Pel. It certainly gave me that idea that minimal progress was inevitable, and you were going through the motions. Even though, well, you have little things to keep you excited. You, Terry, have a ho-hum job that's not well-described. Your wife, Pel, cooks breakfast and takes the car in to have snow tires put on. One day she drives you. One day you take the bus.

Everything has a small puzzle weaved in. On the first day, you need to find a password to your computer. If you want, you can call Pel for hints. It was a bit tortuous the first time, and then when I thought I had the answer, I thought, no, that's silly, it's too short. A fellow named Gord came by and talked to me. He has no effect on the story, and the game warns you against talking to him, and boy do you get an earful if you ignore the game and TALK GORD twice in a row. (I skipped the first time.) The next day, on the bus, you have a small puzzle to figure the route number you need, and the photocopier is broken. Then you have a puzzle with trivial UNIX commands to shut down George Michael's "Last Christmas" playing in the office. Work goes by.

I managed to get better at the puzzles. But I was very close to saying, geez, really? A my lousy apartment game AND a my lousy job game, with because-it-is-there puzzles on top? But PQ seemed inoffensive, much like Terry himself, so it couldn't hurt.

Then the incident happened, and things went to smash, but not in the way expected. And, well, the realization--it didn't hurt, but it tripped off a few things from my own life, of personal crutches I'd kept and thrown off. I was impressed enough by PQ that I want to spoiler-tag the critical bits, but again, I'd encourage you to play through it. As for a walkthrough? I was planning to write one for CASA, just to give Adventuron games more coverage. But since all you have to do is call Pel repeaetedly. You do feel a bit naggy, and that's the point.

(Spoiler - click to show)Hm. Okay. I don't want it to be that easy. ROT13.com will decode the next line below.

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(Ghmx: rhn vhnew ybznkx patm mh khmtmx ur ybznkbgz patm max exmmxk B fnlm ux. Xoxg by B inm bm bg ehpxk-vtlx, rhn'w atox t tgw b tl lbgzex phkwl. Matm'l fr vhgmkbunmbhg mh max pahex insser ubm.)