by Tommy Herbert


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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Dear God,, November 15, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

Should I serve you by inquiring into Your true essence, or should I merely prostrate myself in obedience?
Should I search for deeper meaning in contemplating your Divine attributes, or should I sacrifice on Your altar before Your Likeness?
Would You intervene in my hour of need? Does it even make sense to want, ask or expect this?
Do I wait for Your supreme guidance, or do I strike out on my own, My own, to the point of denying your existence?

Would you smite me with bolts of electromagnetic energy if I did?

None of these questions are directly asked or answered in Bellclap. A lighthearted game of "find out the author's mysterious and idiosyncratic ways", it offers one terribly underclued puzzle and a bit of fantastically fun exploring.

The main strong point, and the reason why questions like the ones above could crop up in my mind, is the PC-parser-player relationship. It's slotted into a believer-angelical messenger- God dynamic template.

Even without explicitly being mentioned in the game, the fact that you, the player, are godlike to the PC brings up theological questions.

How would You treat your creation?

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An odd little game where you are a God, February 4, 2016

In this game, you play a God, the parser is an angel, and the PC is a worshipper named Bellclap.

The game is fairly short with some unintuitive puzzles. Essentially, you have to help your worshipper make it to safety. He has a variety of tools, but what you have to do with them is pretty odd.

To me, this game is primarily enjoyable as an experiment in parser implementation, with the 3 main characters all working together. Also, the setting is well-described and fun.

Overall, I recommend that people try the first scene.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Nice use of parser!, January 9, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

You are a god. You have a temple. A poor traveler has wandered into your temple seeking shelter from the storm. He asks for safety and food and promises you devotion and sacrifices. Will you help him?

While helping the man is fun, the real star of this game is the parser. It is your loyal servant, telling the man what to do and telling you his actions. Very creative. I've never seen a game where the parser is its own character.

The puzzles weren't bad, though I did peek at the walkthrough. I do wish he had obeyed my command to dance. Ah well.

The game could've been longer, but I enjoyed this. It fit.

Great game!

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
If God is omnipotent, can He make a puzzle He cannot solve?, September 26, 2010
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

You should play Bellclap. But you should play it by following David Welbourn's annotated walkthrough. The rest of this review will explain (a) why you should play the game, and (b) why you should not try to do it on your own.

(a) Bellclap is an experiment with the different roles that can be distinguished in a piece of interactive fiction: the commander (the fictional character who decides what actions to try out), the narrator (the fictional character who tells what happens), and the actor (the fictional character who carries out the commands given by the commander). Interactive fiction in general has merged the first and the third role into what we call the "player character", a character who decides what to do and then carries it out. The narrator has usually been a different, and often extra-diegetic character. (This means that the narrator has generally not been a character within the primary fictional world.)

There have, of course, been many experiments with these roles, the most common of which have been either to put the narrator into the world; or to change the expected relationship between the player and the commander/actor-hybrid that we call the player character. Bellclap, however, does something else: it pries apart the commander and the actor. The commander is a god, and the actor is Bellclap, one of the faithful, who has come to the god for assistance. Whatever the player types is interpreted and presented as a command from the God, and Bellclap than tries to carry it out. The narrators is cast as a third person, namely as the angelic messenger who gives the commands of the god to Bellclap, and who informs the god of the results.

This set-up is executed with wit and humour, and gives the piece a very particular feel. You ought to experience it, and therefore you ought to play this game.

(There is at least a fourth important role, namely, the "experiential focus", the character through whose senses we experience the fictional world. This role can be combined with any or none of the three roles defined above. In Bellclap it is more or less spread out over them all.)

(b) Bellclap is also one big read-the-author's mind puzzle. The "short route" walkthrough included with the game is particularly baffling. Imagine that you are stuck in Savoir Faire's kitchen, consult the walkthrough, and see that the first command is "make a mr. potato head" -- that is more or less the experience I had when I consulted this walkthrough. The walkthrough linked to above makes the whole experience far more coherent; but I still cannot see how a player could possibly be expected to hit on the solution. Apparently your godly powers are tightly limited, and need to be triggered in exactly the right way. But there is no way the player can know this, since there is no way you can experiment with them.

As a game, this makes Bellclap pretty much a failure, because you cannot really play it.

Still, you can walk through it, and that is exactly what you should do.

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A very good game in a small package, October 31, 2007
by Nusco (Bologna, Italy)
Related reviews: IF Competition 2004

A fascinating mess-up of some IF conventions, this (very short) experiment is only partly successful. But somehow, the game manages to keep the thrust of its catchy opening line. Pleasantly subdued humor, decent puzzles.

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