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About the Story
St. Augustine, Florida is a city rich in history. Touted as the Oldest City in the United States, tourists flock to her to learn something of the nation's earliest settlers and get a sense of what life was like in the past. But there is another side of St. Augustine that reveals itself when the sun goes down. It is a city steeped in legends of the supernatural, as evidenced by the many ghost tours that are offered along the city streets.
Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting - 2002 XYZZY Awards
13th Place - 8th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2002)
The game alternates between the present and flashbacks with a few lengthy cut scenes. By the end, I felt like I had participated in a story, which is, to me, the whole purpose of interactive fiction. Granted, the story isn't perfect, especially in terms of spelling and bugs. There are several spelling and grammar problems as well as some parser quirks. Yet, when I played, I found myself overlooking a lot of this. [...] I give a lot of leeway to an author who attempts to tell a story as complex as this in such a short game.
-- Adam Myrow
When I came to the part of "Augustine" where the player character takes a guided tour of the city of the game's title, I immediately recognized what had been vaguely bothering me about the game up to that point. The guided tour is not just a major chunk of the game's plot; it's at the heart of the game's design. The entire game is, in a way, a guided tour, and has some of the good and bad features of any guided tour.
-- Mike Roberts
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
Augustine is clearly a well-intentioned, sincere work of IF, and it's clearly the product of a substantial amount of work. Just as obviously, it is the work of a novice author, and its flaws are hard to ignore. Consequently, my reactions to it were mixed.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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An oath sworn in anger and grief leaves two men immortal, bound in their fate until one succeeds in killing the other.
One of them is Kasil, a merciless warlord who led his men on gruesome slaughter-rallies through England in the early fourteenth century. The other is you. You saw your village butchered at the hands of Kasil's men and your sister raped and murdered by the man himself. At the end of an undecided duel, you swear that you will either kill him, or die by his hand while trying. And so the curse takes hold...
First, let's get this out of the way: Yes, this setup is very reminiscent of the <Highlander-movies. It's too good a story to dismiss it as derivative or even plagiarizing though. I categorize it as "an original story in the Highlander-universe", even though the particulars of the spell/curse are somewhat different.
I was very impressed with the structure of this story. Augustine begins with an action-packed prologue where the player learns the backstory of both characters and their bond of fate.
The contrast with the start of the story proper, where you are a bored office clerk in the city of Augustine could not have been greater. Looking for a way to spend the evening, you buy a ticket for a ghost-story tour. It's during these stories that the player learns that the PC is indeed the same centuries-old warrior from the prologue. Although it could be a bit more refined, the author still makes good use of the PC knowing more than the player.
Through flashbacks brought on by the different stories, the player gradually traverses important events of the protagonist's life, coming to know and understand him better. Eventually, this leads us to the expected final showdown at the end of a second and rather more eventful story-tour.
An enthralling story to be sure, but very flawed in execution I am sad to say. When going over my notes for this review, I was reminded of my comments on Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter. A great adventure story, but not an adventure game. Apart from some fightscenes where you can THRUST and PARRY, there is hardly any exploring and no puzzle-solving whatsoever. Exploring the story would count as adventuring for me, were it not that the game is so railroaded that there might as well have been a next page-link at the bottom of the paragraph instead of a parser-prompt.
Indeed, I would have enjoyed this story more as an ink-and-paper macabre horror fiction piece as were popular in the second half of the eightteenth century.
Add to this a very annoying lack of synonyms (>THRUST AT KALIS. You would have to unsheath your sword before you do that. >UNSHEATH SWORD. I do not know the verb "unsheath". Aaargh!) and an all too generous sprinkling of misspellings.
Summary: very good story, badly executed as interactive fiction. Read it, but don't expect to play it.
Augustine was nominated for an XYZZY for best story and best setting. It shows; the story is really intriguing, about two figures who battle each other in different guises throughout the ages.
You and a warlock from the 1300s are doomed to live until one defeats the other. You pass back and forth between modern times and ancient times through flashbacks, learning much about St. Augustine's history (I don't know how much was real, and how much made up for this game).
The writing is iffy and the implementation is definitely buggy, playing cutscenes in the wrong rooms or order. I didn't really like this game at first, but two things made me end up liking it: the story really is compelling, going in unexpected directions; and the combat system is really fun (although I had to UNDO a lot the first time). The final fight in particular was very exciting.
Recommended for those who can excuse spotty implementation/writing for the sake of a good tale.
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