Out of the Limelight

by Jonathan Scott and Stephen Boyd


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fun ZX Spectrum crime game from 1992, February 21, 2023
by Denk

This is an interesting crime game which takes place in 1886 following some events in a theatre where you are an actor. It is one of the many Zenobi games that the late John Wilson made available through his blog. However, many of these games come without the original instructions. It is my impression I was missing some important information for this game too but still I managed to enjoy it with some help from the walkthrough on CASA as well as the small introduction that can also be found on CASA. Still, I felt I was missing some information about the characters you encounter later in the game to properly understand the plot. But 95% of the puzzles were nice and could be solved without this information.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 7/10)
I am not so experienced in PAW games as I used to have a C64 in the 90s but I have started to play many with a Spectrum emulator. Luckily, the walkthrough gives some general parser advice before the spoilers: You will need both quotation marks and periods and use commands of the type (fictive example):
>say "go up. take painting. go down" to jack

So in this sense, the parser is pretty advanced. On the other hand, there were many guess-the-verb situations. Guessing the verb was to some extent part of the fun back then, so the player didn't solve puzzles accidently. However, at least one puzzle I would never had guessed even though I had the right idea (rot13.com): fvyrapr evsyr

Atmosphere (Rating: 8/10)
As most 48k Spectrum games the descriptions are short but in this game sufficient for a fitting atmosphere with a focus on puzzles.

Cruelty (Rating: Cruel)
Often you can continue until to the next "scene" without the needed objects. However, this was common back then and the game is not very long so often the player will suspect that they might be missing an object and therefore play the previous parts of the game again if they are stuck.

Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
There were some good, original puzzles, some involving timed events as some events happen at certain times. There is a watch in the upper right corner which ticks away if you are too slow. However, if you start writing a command, the clock stops until you have finished your command. At least one puzzle I wouldn't have guessed without the walkthrough, perhaps because I didn't have all the original instructions.

Overall (Rating: 7/10)
This was an entertaining game. It was probably even better if I had understood the plot fully but I didn't. Still I enjoyed it.

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Strident, February 22, 2023 - Reply
I'm not sure if the original instructions will have necessarily helped... John tended to write these himself and, speaking as an author of some Zenobi-published games, the synopsis and description in the instructions often bore little resemblance to the game! For reference for others, though, most of the Zenobi instructions are on Mocagh... https://www.mocagh.org/loadpage.php?getcompany=zenobi&npp=25&whatsnew=0&start=0&series=Games

For those playing on certain emulators, such as the one on the Internet archive, getting up speech marks can be an issue. The Spectrum keyboard had a unique layout, but pressing the right-hand SHIFT key and the key P together will usually get you there. Left SHIFT and 0 gives you a delete. The only other issue tends to be loading the games themselves, if your emulator doesn't autoload... You do that by typing J (to get LOAD) and then "".

Jonathan Scott talks a little about his Spectrum & Amstrad games here http://8bitag.com/info/jon-scott.html
Denk, February 22, 2023 - Reply
Thanks for info!
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