Renegade Brainwave

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Number of Ratings: 13
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1-13 of 13

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Campy, goofy pseudo-horror comedy skit, April 25, 2024

OK, so you're a police officer. A cross-dressing police officer who likes the styles of the 60s. (And a werewolf, but that's not important.) And you have a sidekick: the creepy, giggling pyromaniac Donald McRonald, who is technically not a trademark violation. And you have a gun, which: "Sometimes you shoot folks with it, other times you just point it at folks." And a boa -- the constrictor sort, but that's really more of a deadly prank played by your fellow police officers than anything you can use.

And you are investigating a disturbance at the cemetery. A cemetery where the locals buried all the members of an "evil circus" that once terrorized the town, an incursion handily repelled by the trigger-happy constabulary to which you belong. And there are jelly doughnuts.

So... this is the kind of situation that, as a player, one has to embrace wholeheartedly in order to get any enjoyment out of the game. If the wacky, goofy, random and bizarre doesn't amuse you, then you may find yourself blinking in incomprehension at this enthusiastically off-beat work by J. J. Guest, noted author of To Hell in a Hamper. Personally, I found it to be about 90% amusing. There were some wrong notes that didn't jibe with my own sense of humor, but it was generally an entertaining and engaging short play experience. (Note that I played the expanded Inform 7 version, not the original ADRIFT version.)

However, I got really, really stuck. A lot. So much was going on in terms of joke delivery that it was almost hard to pay attention to what serves as the plot on a mechanical basis. Implementation is very spare with respect to NPC interactions, many of which are required to advance the game. With so many generic negative responses to various attempts, the modern player is quickly trained to stop trying -- it takes a concerted old-school style brute force approach to discover certain possibilities(Spoiler - click to show). I'm thinking specifically here of the gorilla, which must be threatened for no good reason to obtain the cigar, and the fact that escaping the first encounter with the main villain can only happen at a certain point. This results in guess-the-verb situations that are always offputting in such an otherwise polished work, and the very constrained implementation of interactions leaves little to do by way of experimentation when one doesn't have a clear idea of what to do next. (Although there is a hint system, it's very vague and, as MathBrush notes, occasionally non-functional.)

The thing that impressed me the most about this game was the soundtrack. Guest assembled an interesting ambient score from various bits of free-to-use music and sound effects, and the game cycles through them over time. (It's actually one giant 17 1/2 minute track; the length keeps the repetition below the threshold of obvious notice.) The soundtrack plays extremely smoothly, and unlike many attempts at background music which I've encountered, this one does not begin to grate in short order. In fact, rather than searching for a way to turn it off, I found myself turning it back on whenever it was automatically stopped by an >UNDO command.

This work gets high marks as a concept, but the execution falls a little short of what it needs in order to be truly recommendable to the general public or the novice. For those who like "weird" humor, there is plenty to like about it as is, and for those who don't, well... Guest provides occasional laughworthy quips that don't rely on weirdness at all. (Example: "For the record: Alligator breath smells like people who wondered what alligator breath smells like.") I'm putting it in the "good, not great" category, which means I think it's worth taking the time to play and study, and I would gladly revisit an updated version.

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- Ferrante, April 15, 2024

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A music-enhanced goofy night in a cemetery investigating aliens, April 9, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

There have been a couple of polls over the years for 'games that need more reviews' and this has been on all of them. I loaded it up once a few years ago, but it seemed somewhat overwhelming.

But I'm glad I've finished it now!

This is a goofy, intentionally silly game in the vein of Escape from the Crazy Place. You are a police officer dressed as a Go Go dancer. Your partner is Donald McRonald: clown, pyromaniac, and overall goofy character.

The game map is split into about 9 main locations with a couple of extra ones. Gameplay revolves around bringing items from one area into another and getting Ronald to cooperate with you.

The plot is that something mysterious fell out the sky and crashed into the graveyard, and now so many of the dead and buried are rising up out their graves!

There is background music, which I thought was well-chosen; it felt like the soundtrack to one of those movies within a movie you see when people reference fake black and white horror films, like the werewolf movie in the Thriller music video. It has a lot more character than much of the music I've seen in other IF games.

However, I also found a lot of bugginess. The jelly doughnut was a major problem; I found it in a grave. I took it. Then I took something else in the grave, and it said I took the doughnut. I later gave the doughtnut to Donald, and it said he ate it, but then I still had it in my inventory. Similarly, the hints just went blank when first entered the (Spoiler - click to show)spacecraft. There were also a lot of interactions which may have been bugs and may have not; like when I opened my purse, and (Spoiler - click to show)tried to get something out and died, so I tried giving it to Ronald and told him to open it, then when I had it again I could take stuff out and not die, even though the boa was in there. Similarly, with the main nemesis, (Spoiler - click to show)I first tried doing nothing, and died; then breaking the machine, and died; then going through the light, and died; then talking, and that just gave a normal response. So I tried attacking the dog herself and got mind controlled away. So things were kind of chaotic. There are also several typos, mainly missing quotes when a sentence has a dialogue tag in the middle.

The characters and writing are funny and high quality, and the music really helps the ambiance. I enjoyed a lot of the puzzles, too. I wonder if that's why there are so few reviews; the game is good enough that no one would give it a 'this sucks, don't try this' review, but tricky enough to finish that people who like it often aren't able to see the end. However, I should note that as of writing this in April 2024, this game has a lot of 4-5 star ratings, while I'm giving it a 3-star rating, so my experience may be atypical.

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- Ray Leandro (Philippines), April 18, 2022

- DocDoe, September 30, 2021

- Greg Frost (Seattle, Washington), June 9, 2021

- Edo, April 23, 2021

- E.K., July 11, 2020

- Zape, June 16, 2020

- nf, December 3, 2019

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 19, 2019

- Spike, September 24, 2019

- Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia), February 4, 2012

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