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About the Story
Lovingly handcrafted in Inform6, this overripe sequel to Risorgimento Represso is full of cheese, gunpowder, chemistry and explosions (well, only a little chemistry). Includes automap, sounds and graphical newspaper.
Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee - Crystal, Best Individual NPC - 2018 XYZZY Awards
Winner, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2018
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Number of Reviews: 5
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This game is the sequel to Risorgimento Represso. Though I have never played Risorgimento Represso, I enjoyed this game immensely.
In this game you play the role of a wizard's apprentice who has been given an apparently simple task by the wizard. Without spoiling the story, lets just say that the plot will develop as you play.
This is a rather long game with an impressive amount of detail and excellent implementation. The game contains an auto-mapping feature and a newspaper, where you can click to turn the pages.
There are a lot of ingenious puzzles in the game, some easy, others more tricky, but except from one puzzle ((Spoiler - click to show)how to use the hoop) I was able to solve them all without the use of the built-in hint system, where you can ask NPCs for help. So I regard the puzzles as very fair and well clued.
The writing is good and witty, and did a great job in communicating the surroundings. There are several references to Risorgimento Represso, but they are all understandable to those who haven't played it.
This is the best game I have played this year so far, so I highly recommend it.
I would have rated this game 6 stars if it would have let me fly the Pterosaur!
There. That should be enough incentive to stop reading this and go play it.
Or not. I absolutely loved this game.Here's why:
-The world. The two cities Illuminismo Iniziato takes place in are big, detailed and deeply implemented. When I began playing, I spent a lengthy and thoroughly enjoyable time just sightseeing, examining stuff, thinking about what I would buy later on and in what shop. I also read the newspaper, and was pleased to see it provided me with hot-off-the-presses news about what happened in the world. And of course, in a city like this, I talked to the people.
-NPC-interactions. The cities are populated with lots of characters, most of whom you might remember from the game's prequel, Risorgimento Represso (also highly recommended). They each have their own personalities, and you can talk to them about quite a bit more than needed for the task at hand.
One NPC who undoubtedly deserves a paragraph to herself is Crystal, your NPC-tag-along slash hint-system. A wonderful character. Helpful but not too helpful when you need a nudge (or a shove). A knowledgeable guide to the game-world when you want background-info. And a tireless chatterbox for your entertainment only.
-Puzzles. Against this background, there are puzzles. Many puzzles. They are mostly well-clued (and if they are not, yaay, another excuse to talk to Crystal!), some are quite difficult, and all are so well integrated that you hardly feel like you're solving a puzzle. Also, some are laugh-so-hard-you-might-break-a-rib funny.
This is a fantastic game.
Having very much enjoyed Risorgimento Represso, I was eager to play this sequel when it was first released in 2018. It didn't manage to grab me the way that its predecessor did, so I put it aside and only got around to trying again recently. It was definitely enjoyable for someone who appreciates the old school style of play, and it is a solid sequel to a well-regarded first episode.
One of the hallmarks of the old school style -- found abundantly in the most popular games of Infocom -- is a kind of wacky comedy to interactions with the presented world. Plenty of more modern works offer the same, but this is not mere imitation. Instead, the technique survives because it is a relatively easy way to deliver entertainment to the player that is of particular value within interactive fiction because it doesn't rely on proper pacing. After all, "brevity is the soul of wit," and bite-sized jokes fit neatly between command prompts.
Although this piece frequently incorporates that type of comedy, it takes the form of more than one-off jokes. Instead, it is the framework for an extensive comedy of errors, a genuine farce growing like rich ivy over the cottage of the game's simple action plot. Jokes build on one another and escalate over time as the player, in the typical old school PC style, conducts a minor crime spree in pursuit of purely personal goals.
It should be noted that knowledge of the original is wound throughout the sequel, though not in ways that make that knowledge required to finish the game. If you happen to have played Risorgimento Represso recently, Illuminismo Iniziato will feel like an unbroken continuation -- following almost as directly as Zork II follows Zork. (In theory, quite a bit of time has passed between the two episodes, but it's not clear what the player character has been doing in the duration. You don't seem to have changed, and you begin with a few familiar items.) In the first half of the game, the setting will be Blumph, a city mentioned but never visited in the original. In the second half, the scene will change(Spoiler - click to show), and you will return to the town of Vechlee, revisiting many of the same locations and objects from the first game.
Several characters appear in both episodes, albeit in different capacities. Ninario, the centerpiece NPC of the first episode, barely appears in this one, and he is never on-stage. Instead, pride of place is given to Crystal, a talkative companion that serves up continuous "color commentary" on your actions. Much of this takes the form of reminders/exposition about events in Risorgimento, but over time this slowly morphs into observations that help to focus attention on the central thread of the plot.
Crystal is an extensively-implemented sidekick(Spoiler - click to show) who develops into a G-rated love interest. She has a ton of things to say, quite a lot of which is non-essential. This creates a life-like presence, but the drawback is that players expecting typical goal-directed expository interaction may find themselves stuck in a morass of verbiage with no end in sight. [In fact, the reason that my first attempts at playing didn't grab me is that I found myself standing in the first room talking endlessly to Crystal about seemingly inconsequential topics(Spoiler - click to show). After her insistent introduction, I assumed that speaking with her was important at that point. Perhaps a device such as her refusing further conversation by saying "We can't stand around all day." after a certain number of interactions in the same location would have served well here.] She is explicitly cast as the "talks too much" type, and one humorous innovation is that her replies for unrecognized topics often take the form of anecdotes about unrelated matters, each of which eventually ends with the acknowledgement that she didn't really hear your question.
Once one realizes that conversation with Crystal is entirely optional, the rest of the game beckons. Although the player is warned by the opening sequence that Big Things Are Afoot, the protagonist's quest begins as the simple task of picking up some dry cleaning. This task is quickly derailed, and in the "natural" course of events (i.e. initiation of the aforementioned crime spree) the protagonist and Crystal catch up to what the player already knows: The villain from the first episode is trying to widen the interdimensional rift that brought the PC to this world. Although it might not seem like this would be a problem to solve, it is(Spoiler - click to show) because, as it surprisingly turns out, the returning villian is some sort of vampire who plans to suck the life force out of students back on Earth. That this was never mentioned in the first episode -- and that this changes my earlier metaphor in a way that suggests the ivy is the only thing holding the ramshackle cottage together -- is beside the point. As with the first episode, the emphasis here is on having fun, not making dramatic sense. This becomes clear through the use of "tyromancy" (a hallmark of the series), which is the art of using cheese for divination. Tyromancy works somewhat differently in this episode, functioning as a series of dramatic cut scenes while also occasionally reprising its previous role of inciting curiosity through clairvoyance of yet-to-be-visited locations(Spoiler - click to show). Most of the cutscenes take place in locations that seem copied word-for-word from the original, which is probably useful for those who haven't played the original for some time but is less effective for those who have recently replayed Risorgimento.
The puzzle structure is a little uneven. Some solutions are quite obvious by virtue of being repeats of tropes from the first episode. Others involve repetitive use of the same objects for similar tasks. Few mysteries are present, and none of them seem exceptionally difficult to resolve, with discovery of the function of the hoop(Spoiler - click to show) and its interaction with the satchel being the most obscure. (The major clue to its use cites the zifmia and aimfiz spells from Infocom's works without mentioning what they do, which are to summon a target person to the caster's location and to send the caster to the location of a target person, respectively. This is a minor unfairness to someone not familiar with those works, but there are other clues available to make up for it.) It is worth taking particular note of how Coyne varies between playing some solutions "straight" while others have surprising and delightful twists.(Spoiler - click to show) The bit about the grappler and the gate of the estate that one plans to burgle is especially funny. These shifts in tone play well with the dual nature of the plot's "unseriously serious" core, with the balance heavily weighted in favor of light-hearted amusement.
Coding quality is improved over the original, with the "graphical" map and continously updating front page of a magical newspaper being the most apparent results. I don't recall encountering anything that seemed like a significant bug, though there are some quirks of interaction that I'm not sure were intended.(Spoiler - click to show) (For example, it is possible to solve the vault puzzle while retaining both the hoop and the satchel, which doesn't seem right given the setup.) The play experience is quite smooth, and the use of sound livens up the occasional sequence without being a functional requirement.
All in all, this work does exactly what a sequel should, namely to deliver more fun with familiar elements. It is well worth playing if you are a fan of Risorgimento Represso, and if you're not familiar with that work, consider this as an invitation to check it out.
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