Leadlight

by Wade Clarke profile

Episode 267 of Eamon
Horror
2010

Web Site

Return to the game's main page

Member Reviews

5 star:
(6)
4 star:
(15)
3 star:
(7)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(2)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 9
Write a review


1-8 of 8


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Easy to install, fun to play, April 9, 2018
by Denk
Related reviews: Eamon

This is a horror game with rpg elements including random combat. And it is a good one. There are lots of puzzles but they are all sensible, and the atmosphere is scary. The game comes with a very detailed user manual and hint sheet so you should be able to get through. Regarding combat, the game was fair, though I had to die a lot before choosing the right strategy. I did have some trouble near the end though, where multiple enemies were present at the same time. As a result I ended up with very few hitpoints left for the final battle, and so I had to save and restore a lot during that final battle. Despite that, it was a very good game with scary horror sequences.

About running the game:(Spoiler - click to show) I had feared that I would have to play around with emulator settings etc. to get the game working, but all I had to do was to download the windows version and double-click on an icon. Then the game was up and running. I can imagine that the mac-version is just as easy to run.

Certainly recommended.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A zombie school RPG on an APPLE II emulator, June 5, 2017

This is a game where you battle zombies one at a time. The violence level is similar to The Walking Dead.

There is an RPG element which can be difficult, but this is balanced by the fact that you can use careful planning to give yourself higher chances of success. This basically turns battles into gating puzzles where you have a random chance of occasionally getting into a much further place than you usually would.

The emulator was much less of a pain than I imagined; I just downloaded the folder and clicked once and there I was.

Fans of One Eye Open will like this setting and story, and vice versa.


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A fun romp for horror fans, but not quite Argento., May 29, 2012
by E.K.
Related reviews: horror, retro

As soon as I'm given the basic premise of Leadlight I feel at home. I'm a teenage girl at a spooky ballet school? This must be Dario Argento's Suspiria. While it is not, in fact, a recreation of Argento's masterpiece, this familiar setting is enough to be content that we're in for a gore-splattered ride, and Clarke does not disappoint.

There are several instant-death spots, which will cost you final points to undo, so it is wise to save often - these, however, are good for adding the suspense factor that horror films do so well: if I hear a noise and proceed, will it be turn out to be innocent or will it be certain doom? The writing is mostly functional, rather than particularly pretty, but it keeps one going, and I never felt stuck for motivation. The back-story is also intriguing, if very much in the canonical horror style, and including a system of scoring for secrets found was a good impetus to continue poking around.

My main gripes were with the retro-parser: small niggles such as having to type 'examine' instead of 'x', for instance, and some instructions were slightly less intuitive than modern parsers allow for. Implementation was generally decent, however. I also found it somewhat jarring that while using a retro platform and old-school parser, Clarke lays out a world with iPods and iMacs - it would have been more fitting to place the action in the 1980s or before.

Unfortunately, I got stuck (Spoiler - click to show)going into the leadlight door, where every action I tried got me killed. However, the time spent playing before running into this wall was most enjoyable, and the game deserves a strong score for its fun factor.


2 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Days I'd Rather Forget, June 4, 2011
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

When I first heard of this game, I felt celebratory. Someone made a game for the Apple II! Yes! There's even special IIGS features! So, I reacquainted myself with the pain of getting files from the interweb on to my IIGS, and some time later, I was ready to roll. The game installed on a single 3.5". While not quite as nostalgic as a 5.25" on which I played Zork and Adventure, it'd have to do.

Then, disappointment struck. The game was in 40 columns, instead of 80? The room description displayed every time you did something, like the all-time king of suck, The Mist? Oh noooo. I grit my teeth and played on.

It turns out that the game is a strange mix of technical competence and storytelling meh. Leadlight uses some kind of handrolled system, and that increases my respect for the programmer quite a bit. However, this system suffers from the fatal two-word parser disease. The color-changing background to match your status (only on the IIGS?) is a nice touch. The main menu, the ability to save games, and so forth demonstrate that the system was well-thought through and gives players the usual fundamentals. I especially appreciate the warning screen at the beginning; it's only fair to let players know what they are in for. Good job, for the most part.

Now, about the meh. The storytelling is ok, I suppose; it's not literary and it's not campy-disposable. However, it's not very revealing about the monsters that you face, and as a result, it's not frighting. The reason why you're at a private boarding school and your melencholy/disturbed nature is a gold mine to lay on the atmosphere and the psychological insights, but that opportunity was passed by. Overall, the impact is not even leaden. It's just present the way that a ham sandwich is present. Even the RPG-ish battles felt lackluster.

Now if this was all there was to Leadlight, then I'd walk away with a feeling of discontent; however, one item propelled my discontent into full-bore anger: the deathtraps. Leadight is a game where you *must* save early and save often, because the nonsensical deathtraps will get you every time. The warnings you receive are cryptic and compel further investigation, but you'd better not investigate, because then you'll die. That sucks. It all started to remind me of the bad DMs I had played with who delighted in punishing players through such devices, and a whole host of lame MUDs I'd played on. The rage and the disappointment I'd much rather forget, but this game brought it all back.

Upon realizing the pain that was in store for me, I gave Leadlight the old heave-ho.


11 of 11 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.


1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
great if approached with the right spirit, probably not otherwise, November 29, 2010
by Jeremy Freese (Evanston, IL)

Highly imaginative horror game that takes place in a girl's school.

I played this game with a friend while driving on a cross-country trip, with her reading the output and then us discussing the commands. For that purpose, this game was *absolutely delightful*, and maybe the highlight of the entire car trip. Would I have enjoyed it as much if I had played it on my own? Probably not. To be honest, I think I would have been turned off by some aspects of the random combat system and the prose at the beginning. Which would have been too bad, as there is a lot to this game and it repays getting into it. So, if you are in the mood to approach a horror game with a bemused and open spirit, this game could be great fun. Otherwise, you might want to wait for that mood to strike before taking this on.


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Really worth it despite the platform, November 27, 2010
by Kevin Jackson-Mead (Boston)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2010

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.


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Who knew white text on a blue screen could be so nerve-wracking? , November 16, 2010
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2010, horror

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.)



1-8 of 8 | Return to game's main page