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About the Story
In this tiny game, you play as a man who briefly meets an old man on a park bench before he inexplicably teleports you away. When the magical mist dissolves, you find yourself in an exit-less stone chamber with a unicorn and dragon who have wounded each other. Perhaps if you talk to them, you can find a way out of this sealed room.
22nd Place - 18th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2012)
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(I originally published this review on 21 October 2012 as part of my blog of IFComp 2012. This was the 22nd of 26 games I reviewed.)
The Sealed Room contains two mythical creatures which have the power of speech. Finding yourself stuck in there with them, your goal is to get out, mostly by ASKing the room's inhabitants about its contents and each other. Described by its author as "short-short", the game is indeed short-short, and while I did not find it to be very remarkable, in the context of the competition it was at least a game that I could easily play and complete, and which thus constituted a kind of break. The game is also kind enough to display its title page artwork on startup, making it one of the handful of entries whose cover image I could see easily this year.
The two creatures in the room are a dragon and unicorn who have wounded each other and can speak on the topics of their own natures, their opponent's nature and occasionally the situation of being stuck in the room. Controlling the game is easy; you just keep ASKing whomever ABOUT such and such a topic, and can also get either creature to offer up a list of TOPICS.
Given the game's simplicity, what it lacks are specific details to make its story interesting and to give strong personalities to the creatures. The reason you're in the room is just that an old guy on a park bench zapped you there. The creatures don't know why they're in the room. Nothing is made of the attractive design on the ceiling, and even the potentially interesting symmetry of the two creatures and their pools of blood, a strong image, doesn't figure in the events of the game. The effect, then, is basically in the contrasting responses you get from the creatures when quizzing them on the same topic, since the unicorn is kind and wise and the dragon is arrogant and a bit nasty. A couple of response pairs did raise a chuckle from me, and they do work best when you question each creature in turn about the same thing. Unfortunately it is likely that most players will lawnmower the responses from one creature before doing the same to the other, which will blunt the contrasting effect. Also, the creatures mostly act as symbols of their type rather than giving the impression of being individuals, so you stop expecting them to say anything that might surprise you after awhile.
Something interesting could have happened in The Sealed Room, but its trappings were too generic.
This review was previously published on a blog in connection with IFComp 2012
The Sealed Room is a very short game in which you have a conversation with a dragon and a unicorn. There is not much story, and no real puzzles.
(Spoiler - click to show)The Sealed Room describes itself as a “short-short story”, but it’s actually a short puzzle game consisting of a single, rather surreal, puzzle. The protagonist is the usual nameless adventure game hero with no personality, and “x me” gives what I can only assume is the Alan standard response to self-examination: “You notice nothing unusual about yourself.” You are out for a walk when you meet an old man, who transports you to a mysterious sealed room, for no particular reason.
The room contains a unicorn and a dragon, and the game mostly consists of talking to these two creatures, and convincing them to help you escape.
It’s never really explained why any of you are there, except as some kind of test devised by the old man. Now, there is nothing wrong with making a storyless puzzle game, but the actual puzzles in the game suffer from being severely overhinted: You are almost always told exactly what to do next, and the required actions would be pretty obvious even if you weren’t. When you procure a new item, the game might say something like “Maybe you should show it to the unicorn and the dragon?” and that will be what you need to do to proceed. At no point did I need to stop and think, which makes the whole game feel rather mechanical and pointless.
The game uses an ask/tell conversation system, but the dragon and unicorn will conveniently tell you every topic you can talk to them about, so I just lawnmowered through them all in the order they were listed. To be fair, the game does add some innovations to the standard conversation framework: You can ask the dragon and unicorn for advice or help, which adds an extra dimension to the conversation, but the game is too short to do anything particularly interesting with it.
After talking to the two creatures for a while, and performing a few obvious actions, a doorway opens, allowing you to leave the room. For some reason, the unicorn and the dragon show no interest in leaving, even though they were trapped there along with you. After leaving the room, you are congratulated for solving the puzzle, and get to choose between ending the game, or exploring the room a while longer. I tried to see if I could get the two creatures to leave with me, but they didn’t acknowledge that I had solved the puzzle at all.
If there had been some actual puzzling to do, this might have made for a decent puzzle game. As it is, there is just nothing there.
This game has two characters in locked room. You have a few items around and you can talk to them. There is one puzzle, with multiple stages.
It’s not a bad concept. A problem that arises is that the number of topics is large, and they are all dumped on you at the same time (well, most of them are). If it was gated at the beginning more, I’d give this another star.
But the whole game is bloodless. What makes it all tie together? Nothing, as far as I can see.
I believe the author went on to make some other, great games.
This is version 4 of this page, edited by cas on 6 December 2019 at 10:19pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item