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About the Story
Hundreds of years ago those who built the city disappeared. Years ago we found the city and stole all we could. Soon after we woke the beast. Now we don't go there, except to send criminals for exile and execution.
45th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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This IFComp 2015 game places you in a preset underground map that is vaguely maze-like, and sets a monster chasing after you.
Although the map is preset, there are many doors that are locked, and the keys randomly distributed. Also randomly distributed are items to set traps with to kill a monster that is chasing you.
It is a fun game, with good atmosphere, but over pretty quickly. It would be fun to see the author add a version with multiple monsters, where you have to work harder to evade them and need to set multiple traps.
In this game you play as a convict who's been dropped into a pit to be killed by a mysterious beast. The "pit" is actually humongous: a lost city underground. Every room seems to have multiple exits leading to new places. I was able to familiarize myself with a few key spots, but I never completely wrapped my head around the whole map. Which wasn't a problem. You're meant to be lost and disoriented.
There's not much plot. You don't know why you've been sentenced to death-by-beast. Probably it was an unjust punishment: you have a fellow convict in the pit named Iza who suggests she's there for petty theft. All that you do know is that you need to somehow kill the beast.
I think there must be at least three different ways to do that, judging by items I stumbled across during play. But in the end I only needed to make one functional trap to win.
The room descriptions are terse, but still have flavor. You're not meant to stop and poke around. You're meant to be running for your life as the beast chases you. Still, I came across lots of unimplemented scenery. No flagons, for instance, in a room described as being filled with discarded flagons. For the most part, the writing is workmanlike, but it's got a few really nice lines. This one especially stood out to me, as you're crawling through a sewer and pass beneath a hole in the ceiling:
Spectators are gathered around the hole even though the chances of
you coming this way might have been small; they’re delighted to see you.
"They're delighted to see you." It's so casual that it's sinister.
This game isn't breaking new ground. It's just meant to be a pulp fantasy experience. Discovering traces left behind by the underground city's vanished inhabitants is the best part, and you can even activate a "walking sim" mode to remove the beast from play so that you can explore at your leisure if you want.
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my blog during IFComp 2015.)
Pit of the Condemned is a short Evade-The-Wumpus-like game in which you play a convict sentenced to die at the hands of The Beast. The site for your intended death is an abandoned city that's now used only to host deadly spectacles. A bloodthirsty public watches your struggles from innaccessible locations overhead.
Part of the info in the preceding paragraph comes from the game's blurb and isn't present in the game itself, a fact which accurately speaks to the minimalism of the game. The implications of the game's setting or vaguely Hunger Games-sounding society don't really come up during play. It's purely about the mechanic of moving through a large network of empty rooms and searching for a weapon or escape route while the beast chases you.
I won on my first try by setting a trap for the beast in the Royal Palace and then wiggling around a lot until the monster followed me into it. It's probably too easy to avoid the creature in general thanks to the proximity warning messages the game delivers. These are handled well technically, as is the occasional warning generated by line of sight programming.
When the beast isn't close, the game tends to dullness. Almost all locations are empty and there are a lot of them. I was tempted to start mapping, but didn't, and it ultimately proved to be unnecessary. Some obvious commands aren't covered. The very first thing I wanted to do in the game was try to KILL MAGISTRATE, the guy who had sentenced me to death. I expected that the result would be that his sidekick guard would immediately kill me. The game's reaction was to instead print the default Inform anti-violence message, 'Violence isn't the answer to this one.'
Pit of the Condemned is good mechanically, but I found it too unexciting given the premise.
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