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Big, puzzle-filled game with deep backstory somewhat spoiled by bottlenecks, February 3, 2016
Muldoon Legacy is an enormous game, one of the largest I have ever seen. It has a wide variety of interesting puzzles, with a sci-if/fantasy backstory.
I fully expected to deeply enjoy this game, having loved Curses and Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina, and having just come off the similar game Theatre. However, I just couldn't get into the game.
I played without a walkthrough for a few days, getting only around 11 points. I am not the greatest puzzle solver, and I don't mind using walkthroughs when I'm stuck, but the game gets stuck too frequently.
Case in point: after the intro (which required some, to me, unintuitive commands), you begin at the museum's steps. As you are immediately told, getting in requires not one, but two keys. And the second key requires (Spoiler - click to show)a seemingly random sequence of button presses on a keypad). There is virtually nothing to do while waiting to solve this puzzle.
Compare this to other games with early bottlenecks, like Zork. There, if you can't get in the house, you can always explore the forest. And if you do stay to solve the puzzle, putting yourself in the mindset of the character gives you the answer almost immediately. (Spoiler - click to show) Door locked? Try the window . The beginnings of other games such as Curses, Ballerina, and Theatre all give you more options or a more gentle beginning, and giving you a pile of smaller puzzles that aren't that hard to work through while digesting the big ones.
One bottleneck would be fine, but they occur over and over again. It is as if ALL puzzles require "two keys" (for instance, another early puzzle requires (Spoiler - click to show) lighting a match with a brick you had to search for outside, then using the match to light a branch you found in another room. And the brick can't be found by using "examine"). This is compounded by my least favorite way of creating fake difficulty, which is giving rooms exits that are not in the description (although you are given hints in other areas about these exits).
I suppose that this game resembles Jigsaw more than anything else, with similar fake difficulty and bottlenecks. Both games, however, are still fun to play through, but don't expect to get far without a walkthrough.
As a final note, Jon Ingold writes some great games. I especially enjoyed the short game "Failsafe", and many people have enjoyed "All Roads".
I decided to at least see the rest of the game. The nozzle room was one of the best things I had seen in all of interactive fiction. But I stand bh my original review. What makes this game not click if it has great puzzles and enormous amounts of locations, and a developed plot?
J.R.R. Tolkien had the same issue. He developed a massive world, and coalesced it into the Silmarillion, which had great, well-written, detailed stories. It flopped. I like it, but it flopped. He then learned to trim his work down and focus on likable characters, a well-developed plotline and beautiful location descriptions.
This work is like the Silmarillion. It is 2-4 times the length od the massive curses, which Graham Nelson wisely trimmed down in size from his first draft. Puzzles are dense, and detailed. People say they like hard puzzles, but what they really want are puzzles that make them feel smart for solving them, but can be solved after a reasonable time. And, like the Silmarillion, no characters are especially likable. Everyone seems somewhat elitist. One finak issue is the prevalence of guews-the-verb issues.
I would recommend glancing at a walkthrough after each area to see if you did everything necessary. This game is enjoyable, but don't stress out about getting hints.