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About the Story
You were reluctant to undertake another adventure with Professor d'Squarius (especially after the last near-catastrophe, in the Tomb of the Screaming Mummies), and from the moment you agreed to join the expedition, things have gone exactly the way they always do: horribly. Now YOU are the one stranded on a remote tropical island with no clear way of getting back to civilization. And the amazing treasure you were originally seeking? The professor never explained precisely what it was.
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Untold Riches is a simple parser puzzle game. You're an assistant to a wacky treasure-hunting professor, and you've been stranded alone on an island during a treasure hunt. You've got to locate the treasure and then figure out a way to contact someone to leave the island.
What you get from the game's blurb is what you get inside the game. The tone is irreverent. The story is slim and self-aware, with references all over the place to past adventures you've had with the professor, which in turn reference pulp adventure tropes from literature and film. Like the gameplay, the writing is simple and direct, but it knows what it wants to be and it's charming.
The "about" text explains that this game was actually written to be played in a middle-school setting as an introduction to the medium for students. It sets explicit guidelines for itself: clear goals, clear clues, thorough implementation. In all three realms, it's a success.
As an intro-level puzzler, this is solid. The only thing it could do better is provide standard verbs for the player, since the game is assuming that its audience will be unfamiliar with the parser format. Otherwise, it's a nice little snack.
Untold Riches is short very straightforward interactive fiction about treasure hunt. For the most part it manages to achieve its goals set in ABOUT page.
Some simple things could be improved, e.g. calling "a mechanical device" a machine won't work. The parser only understands device or power station. adding machine to the vocabulary isn't difficult. In fact it would have been in line with the design principle of being for "novice programmers".
Another problem I have, at the end of the game, (Spoiler - click to show)when you unlock the chest with key. the reply you get is: (Spoiler - click to show)The brass key clicks perfectly into place and turns with a gentle twist of your wrist. Youíve done a lot to get here, and only one simple step stands between you and the professorís amazing treasure (whatever it is). I found it unclear whether my action succeed or not. I spent lot of time trying to find out, (Spoiler - click to show)Why the chest did not unlock, instead of opening the chest. There is no need for the player to first unlock and then open the chest. It is bad design practice to deliberately break the action in two parts. It is understood when you unlock something, it should open and reveal its contents. Breaking away from that convention, I think, is not inline with the stated design principles.
But other than these small problems, I definitely enjoyed this 15 minute adventure.
This is an IFComp 2015 game, and was written to be a clear and simple example for middle school students to learn about writing games. In this game, you wash up on an island after a pirate attack, and need to find treasure on your own, without the guide of your professor.
You have frequent humorous memories about your time with the professor, providing much of the humor of the game.
You have two main goals in the game:(Spoiler - click to show)find the treasure, and get off the island. Both goals are fairly simple; if you get stuck, what to do next is fairly well-clued, although I did forget to examine the scenery at one point, getting stuck for a while.
Hopefully, the author will release the source code at some point, as it was specifically meant to help people learn to write in Inform.
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