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About the Story
15-year-old Belinda Nettle is studying at Linville Girls High School in Australia's Blue Mountains. After falling asleep in the library one afternoon, she wakes from her mundane existence into a nightmare...
14th Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
Nominee, Best Supplemental Materials; Nominee, Best Supplemental Materials - 2010 XYZZY Awards
Leadlight: Creepy, awesome 'Silent Hill'-style interactive fiction.
Leadlight casts players as antisocial Belinda Nettle, an aspiring 15-year old ballerina studying at an all-girls boarding school. She falls asleep in the library one evening, and wakes up to find A) that everything has mysteriously gone to hell and B) the corpse of her classmate sitting in front of her. For fear of spoiling anyone I won't give anything else away, but the story features lots of creepy surprises reminiscent of a good horror flick. This quality writing allows Leadlight to surpass its occasional frustrations. There are lots of traps waiting to instagib poor Belinda, but they're gruesome fun to read and always come with the option to rewind and try again. If you're ever stuck, the handy (and clever!) hint sheet quickly sets you on the right track.
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Number of Reviews: 8
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When I found out that I had to install an Apple II emulator to play this game, my enthusiasm immediately waned. Partly just because one is lazy: why would I want to install an emulator when I already have Gargoyle? But mostly because the need for such an interpreter suggests that the authors wants to appeal to Apple II nostalgia, and I have no nostalgia for old computers -- certainly not for the Apple II, which I have never seen, but not for old computers in general. Computers simply get better, so why would I want to re-experience the glory of my first 1024x768 monitor, Pentium computer and constantly crashing Windows 1995? Or the even older and more dubious glory of my Tulip 286 with Hercules graphics adapter? And it's not just computers that got better; computer games got better as well. Oh, some of the oldies are still good (I replayed the 1996 game Heroes of Might and Magic 2 not long ago, which was excellent and made me realise what is wrong with the single player campaign design of all its successors). But in general, a game made in 2010 is simply better than a game made in 2000, which in turn is better than a game made in 1990.
But, somehow, Leadlight is fun. The limitations of the tiny Apple 2 screen might seem prohibitive, but Wade Clarke responds by writing terse prose that would simply look bad in a modern interpreter but just works here. It's all like (not an actual quotation):
Natasha is one of the brightest girls in your class. Sometimes, you admire her. She is trying to kill you with an ax.Now the standards by which that is good prose are pretty weird, but when playing this game, they are in place.
LEADLIGHT is the most gory, horiffic, survival-horror, text-based entertainment you'll have on an Apple II in 2010 during the Halloween season!
YES you will be annoyed that you have to type "ex mirror" instead of "x mirror" in order to look at things.
MAYBE you will, like me, wish the plot made a little more sense (I only missed a handfull of secrets, but I still have questions: (Spoiler - click to show)So why is Great-Great-Grandmother out to kill me? Did she cause the massacre, or am I responsible? The girls seem to blame me, but obviously the Founder thinks I'm a horrible person who needs to be destroyed. But the Founder's doing the black magic...right? I'm so confused.).
But if atmosphere is your thing, you're gonna love LEADLIGHT because it is chock full of it.
You wake up in your all-girl Australian boarding school, and everything is wrong. Terrible, uneasy things await you in nearly every scene. But this isn't a slideshow of an empty, spooky school. Oh no. LEADLIGHT is crawling with your former classmates, all gone mad...(Spoiler - click to show)and most trying kill you.
Here, LEADLIGHT introduces an RPG flavor into the mix; you obtain items and clothing which affect your abilities in the game. These elements helped immerse me inside the world; when you don't know what you're going to face when you go into a room, you're a little more cautious about entering it.
But despite all your caution, you are going to die in this game. There are gruesome death traps everywhere, and not all of them are spelled out for you. In a world where we praise games for being "forgiving" some might shout, "That's not fair! There was no warning you were going to kill me!"
However, in this setting, the sudden deaths adds to the sense of peril you feel. (It helps that after you die, there is an option to Undo to the moment before you hit the trap.)
And for all our boasting about modern IF parsers and their ability to understand complex commands, Mr. Clarke makes the 2-word parser your ally, helping simplify puzzles that might have become unwieldy if given more options.
There were a couple places I got stuck on (and were not referenced to in the hint guide--in particular, (Spoiler - click to show)I feel bad that I had to kill a traumatized girl to get her ribbon; if there was an alternative solution, I didn't see it). But these spots were later in the game. With judicious use of the three save spots, I never found myself locked into a situation I couldn't escape.
LEADLIGHT walks a fine line. On the one hand, there's not a lot of deep characterization or background going on. It's gory in the way I imagine slasher films are. And the "survival" aspect has you dealing out mindless death at the pace you might associate with an FPS.
On the other hand, there are a smattering of interesting choices you can make within the game, such as (Spoiler - click to show)killing the Dancer, which seem to demand a second play if only to see how those choices change the outcome.
It's the perfect Halloween treat--perfect for a night when you want some creepy thrills. I encourage any fan of ANCHORHEAD or THEATRE to try this one.
(PS -- If you download the full package that comes with the IFComp 2010 collection, you'll be treated to a handsomely-illustrated manual and spiffy hint sheet that took me back to the days of Sierra Online adventure games.)
I have to say that I had some initial problems because, for some reason, my configuration wouldn’t work with the supplied Apple IIgs emulator. The author pointed me at an Apple IIe emulator, and that cleared up my problem. So this is another one of those nostalgia platform things, but I had less of a problem with it. For one thing, the game was very fully implemented, with lots of things to look at and interact with. Also, there is a nice manual that comes with the game, so it’s pretty clear how to go about doing things.
This is a zombie horror game where you are a student at a girls’ school in Australia who wakes up after nodding off to find some kind of zombie apocalypse afoot. Much of the game is about killing zombies (your former classmates and teachers), and one of the few negative feelings I had about the game was the way combat worked. At least early on, you’re not all that tough, so I spent quite a bit of time saving and restoring in order to get a decent result in combat, which probably contributed to me not finishing the game quite within the two-hour limit of Comp games.
So, yes, you have hit points, and you also have other stats. This isn’t something I’m used to in IF games, but it worked well overall here, with different items giving you different stats. The game also has a really interesting method for keeping score. You get one point for each weapon you find (this is, after all, a zombie game), each enemy you kill, and each “secret” you find. Generally the secrets are things that you examine that give you a little bit of the backstory (which, by the way, is pretty interesting). You also have a couple of opportunities to earn some bonus points for helping some of the other victims. I ended the game with a score of 76/80, having failed to find just 4 out of the 25 secrets. One other nice aspect related to the scoring system is that there are “deathtraps”, but you can always undo and lose a point. Of course, I quickly learned to save often, so I ended the game without any negatives.
The puzzles in the game were really well clued overall, and I only had to consult the hints a couple of times (and I was helped along to resorting to the hints because I was running up against my two-hour time limit). I’m not the best puzzle solver, so maybe that means these puzzles will be too easy for some people, but I found them very satisfying. And I’m proud to say that I figured out how to make it to the endgame all on my own (there was no hint provided for it), even though it was one of the puzzles that I didn’t think was clued very well. I think what helped is that there really are a limited number of commands the game recognizes, and the game is nice enough to give you a list of all of them.
The other real standout aspect of this game is the atmosphere, in particular as brought out by the writing. You end up killing quite a few zombies and seeing lots of destruction, but it never gets repetitive and is always creepy. A particular favorite I encountered after slaying a zombie teacher was, “Mrs Palmer’s remains are just horrid, stinking slush. They continue to ooze even as you watch.” (If this kind of gore isn't your cup of tea, then you should avoid this game.) There was also (Spoiler - click to show)a note found on a girl’s corpse in the chapel that was from her mother telling her to make sure she eats today. It somewhat acted as a clue to let you know that you should try eating the food you find to recover your hit points, but it really hit me as a reminder that all of these corpses had loving families, and it made finding that corpse all the more poignant.
|One Eye Open, by Caelyn Sandel (as Colin Sandel) and Carolyn VanEseltine|
Average member rating: (40 ratings)
Had you known the bloody history of Corona Labs, you would never have signed up as a test subject. But now, plunged into that history, surrounded by the damned and the dying, you must find the truth. Perhaps you will even survive it.
|The Reluctant Resurrectee, by David Whyld|
Average member rating: (6 ratings)
Cup of Frost, Palm of Gold, by Emma Osborne
Average member rating: (2 ratings)
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