by Wade Clarke profile

Episode 267 of Eamon

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Number of Reviews: 8
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Surprisingly fun, February 27, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

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 makes extensive use of randomised combat. Apart from some very minor choices about which weapon to use, there is absolutely no tactical depth to the combat. Which sounds awful, but is, in fact, once again simply appropriate. The game is exceedingly unfair, and includes many instant death traps; but they can all be undone immediately. The fights are mostly random, but you can save and restore in the middle of them. With a little perseverance, you will always win. And you will be rewarded with some more of the game's weird revelations, unexpected weapons, and easy puzzles.

One aspect of the game that deserves special mention is the documentation, both in the form of two PDFs accompanying the game and in that of a good-looking website. It is great to see an author care so much about his game that he will go to these lengths to present it; and the information given is very useful. It will help you set up the game, play it conveniently, and get unstuck when the puzzles stump you. (Read the manual. Really.)

(But if you get stuck when trying to pull a rope, please read this hint, since the official hint file is less than fully helpful: (Spoiler - click to show)when you need a ribbon but cannot find the person who is supposed to have it, what you should do is wander around in the area near the rope; you must trigger a random encounter to get this item.)

In conclusion, this game is highly recommended to all those who believe they might like a game with random combat and unfair death traps, for it is surely among the best games of that type.

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