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About the Story
[IMPORTANT: Seems like there are some errors when playing the game in browser that could prevent you from finishing the game. I recommend downloading it for the best experience!]
The year is 1350. The location is England. The Black Plague, one of the most devastating outbreaks of disease in human history, is finally beginning to show signs of subsiding.
You are a rat.
You just want to make some new friends.
Use your vermin senses and abilities to solve puzzles, confront your fears, find your old friends, and make some new ones!
If you manage to keep a level head, you could end up a hero.
Or you could just be a pest.
(Type 'help' in game for general tips. If you get really stuck, tweet me at @Quence and I'll be happy to throw a hint in your face.)
UPDATE: v.1.1. Streamlined an early section of the game, axed a puzzle that wasn't really working, fixed the ladle mistake.
2nd Place - Questcomp 2013
Pest, in which you play a rat in Black Plague era London, has the makings of a thorough puzzler, but is hampered by a fair few technical and writing oversights. The former manifest as bugs, the latter make the puzzles unnecessarily tough. There are no hints in or out of the game; my observation is that the Quest community hasn't worked up any culture of creating help to go with its games at this time of writing. I gave up on Pest after becoming stuck during its second major scene.
An introductory sequence in which the player flees from an unseen pursuer teaches the use of the various sense commands the rat can use (smell, listen, feel). The teaching works, but the rat's constant ruminations on his fate while this is going on are mostly at odds with the move to build suspense. There's too much repetition of material, or perhaps the repetition would work better if the player wasn't required to press a key to advance through every line of dialogue, which is pace-sluggening.
Pest needs to go for detail in its physical model of the world because it's about a small rat adequately positioning himself in relation to various people and objects, and interacting with them in clever mechanical ways. The scene in the stone dwelling shows the promise of this kind of thing, with different pieces of furniture at different heights which can be used to access each other, move around the room or draw the attention of its inhabitant, the broom-wielding Matlid.
What's missing from this scene is more exacting programming and prose. The physical relationships between the objects aren't adequately described, and these details are often crucial for visualising / conceptualising where things are and which courses of action may be fruitful. For instance, since the bag was on top of the cupboard, I didn't expect to be able to do anything with it, given that I was on the floor. But FEELing the bag turned out to be a big step forward. Paradoxically, the table is described in a manner suggesting you can get onto it. I never was able to do so, and its description only emphasised the fact that I was on the floor. Other bugs interacted with each other here; I was able to pick up things I shouldn't have been able to (EG the ladle - a bug fixed in the version 1.1 update) and perform one-shot actions more than once. I suspect the latter issue might have screwed up my game state.
I still enjoyed what little I played of Pest, and from what I've seen it promises more interesting design if you like solving physical puzzles when you're really small, but it definitely needs more work on its implementation to reach a level of stability and trustworthiness that will compel more players to persevere. And ideally to not even be thinking in terms of 'Should I perservere?' in the first place.