by Mika Kujala profile

Mystery, espionage, languages, 8-bit retro-style

Web Site

Go to the game's main page

Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 6
Write a review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Old school puzzle adventuring in Italy, November 14, 2023
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023, Adventuron, parser-based, retro, mystery

Codename Obscura is a parser-based IF made by Mika Kujala, published during IFComp 2023. In this story, you are a secret agent in Italy on a mission to gather intelligence and possibly unravel a clandestine scheme or two.

The game has been made on Adventuron and is intentionally very retro in style. It's basically an old-school, puzzle-heavy adventure game with a fairly limited parser as well as some lovingly crafted low-res graphics which help set the atmosphere. You can have shrill PC speaker sound effects, too, if you enable them from the menu.

This title lacks many of the niceties of modern parser-based games, which raises its difficulty on occasion. The parser error messages are generic to the point of being unhelpful. The game is a bit inconsistent on verb usage - sometimes "use" works, sometimes it doesn't. There aren't many synonyms for common verbs either. You can't examine portable items before picking them up, which often leads to some redundant typing. There are a lot of contextual actions too, which only do what you'd expect in some specific room in the game and nowhere else. The puzzle design, likewise, can be a bit obscure in its reasoning, and I had to resort to the walkthrough more than once while playing.

I like the quaint charm of the 80's Italian setting, though. The graphics look nice, and the prose also uses some snippets of Italian to create an impression of visiting a foreign time and place. It's a kind of a pity that the implementation is not very deep and there isn't much to do in the game world besides general exploration and puzzles, but I suppose it makes sense considering the style of gameplay this title is going for.

Overall, Codename Obscura provides puzzles and intrigue for at least an hour or two. Retro puzzlers are not my favorite style of IF, but the game's terse writing and spirited atmosphere managed to leave a positive impression.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment