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About the Story
After experimenting on a strange object, you are transported to a strange new world. Now you must find a way to get back home. Talk to the locals, fight a monster using a crowbar, listen to the radio, find secrets, and more!
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Number of Reviews: 5
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There’s some Hemingway quote that I’m not going to bother to look up (look, hopefully it’s clear by now that with these reviews you get what you pay for), but the gist is that a writer needs to write a million words to figure out how to write and get them out of their system, and starting with the millionth and first, possibly they’ll be worth a damn, and be pure, and good, and clean, and true (you’re also not paying enough to get anything other than the world’s laziest Hemingway impression). The principle extends to IF, where I think just about everybody has had the experience of making a starter game before getting their feet under them to try something more ambitious (mine’s a half-completed House of Leaves – er, why don’t we call it a “homage” – moldering away on a hard drive that hasn’t been plugged into anything since 2003 or thereabouts).
Elsegar I is a pretty exemplary illustration of the type: there’s only a bit of backstory, about being sucked into a strange new dimension by some sort of singularity, and a found-object approach to worldbuilding that’s largely there to provide scaffolding for the variety of puzzles and programming tasks. There’s a holdall, a darkness puzzle, NPCs who respond to being asked about a couple of keywords, randomized combat, a put-X-in-Y-to-make-Z puzzle, a (big, old-school) maze – classics all, and what’s rare for a first game, all solidly implemented, albeit with a large number of typos. There’s nothing especially fancy about the design, though there are some fun jokes and easter eggs involving a radio, and an actually quite neat text effect for a bit of graffiti. It’d be more interesting if it stuck with a specific kind of puzzle and tried to elaborate it with a few variations, or leaned more heavily into its setting or characters, but again, for this kind of game it makes sense to try out a bunch of different things.
After I’d played the game I saw from the author’s posts on the forums that it’d been disqualified from the Comp since it’d been posted as part of a call for beta testers. That’s a shame – it’s an easy rule to run afoul of – but hopefully part II will make it into next year’s Comp or otherwise see release. Now that the author has the basics down, their next release could be one to watch out for.
This game reminds me a lot of the games the teenagers made in my interactive fiction summer camps.
It’s got a broad, wide open map with generally one item of interest in each room or less. The puzzles are simple and represent broad tropes: find a key, talk to an NPC, kill a monster, buy an item. There are direct references to both Animal Crossing and Minecraft. The writing is spare and simple.
There are several typos in the game (like ‘Mine if I’ instead of ‘Mind if I’); in the future, you can type CTRL+G in the Inform IDE to do spellcheck (although some always slips through!)
Implementation is spare as well. I see that the author posted their draft of the game on the forums in May, and got some responses, but I think that the game could definitely use some more thorough beta testing (although that effort definitely did happen).
Honestly? This is simple and clean. The maze wasn’t my favorite (it looks like it was created by drawing a 9 by 9 grid and connecting rooms with a big squiggly path, and has no special features to distinguish it from other mazes). But I’d much rather play a simple game where everything works than a game full of complex systems that fail miserably. This game, though, could do a lot more to distinguish itself.
-Polish: The game had several typos.
-Descriptiveness: The writing was bare and relied on tropes for your imagination rather than its own ideas.
+Interactivity: The maze wasn't the worst thing ever and I like playing through clean simple games.
+Emotional impact: The game was fairly flat, but at least I had some fun.
-Would I play again? I think I've seen enough.
This game seems to be a test game for someone who is just starting to learn Inform. It doesn't appear very bugged, but there is almost no story, a few puzzles and then a huge maze. I mapped more than 60 rooms in the maze before I gave up. What there is before the maze isn't horrible, but nothing special either. Feels like someone just wanted to create a game real quick though.
The maze is not a classical IF maze (no need to drop objects to distinguish the locations) but it is more logical, i.e. if you go east you can get back by going west etc. Still, the location descriptions are identical so it may make it slightly easier if you drop objects at certain locations. However, the real problem with the maze is, that it does not mention which directions you can go, so you have to try by trial and error to figure out which directions you can go in each location. And I wasn't sure if it is only N/S/E/W in all locations or if I should also try NW/NE/SE/SW and up/down. It appears as if N/S/E/W is sufficient though.
If you like mapping big mazes, you might like this one.
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