Elsegar I: Arrival

by Silas Bryson


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Number of Ratings: 9
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1-9 of 9

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A first game showing promise, December 7, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

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.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A few puzzles and a big maze, December 7, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: inform

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.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Retro or underimplemented?, December 1, 2020
by Stian
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

In any case, the implementation of this game is certainly minimalist. With extremely sparse descriptions and mostly empty rooms, Elsegar I is part frustration and part charm. The puzzles are very straightforward in themselves, though they are made slightly harder through a strict parser constantly having you guess both verbs and nouns. At one point, you even have to repeat an action before it has an effect; this was for me the most difficult point in the game and made me consult the walkthrough. No estimated play time is mentioned; it took me around 25 minutes to finish, albeit with less than a full score.

The writing has quite a few typos, so even if the minimalist approach is an artistic choice, a lot of polish is still needed. As for the story, who knows? The player starts in a peculiar situation, but no answers are given throughout the game. I guess they will come in Elsegar II.

- necromancer, November 7, 2020

- Xavid, October 21, 2020

- Zape, October 19, 2020

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Hints at something better, October 18, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

A competently coded and not unpleasant game that is unfortunately devoid of story and creativity while implementing random combat elements and a pointless maze. There's only illusion to the plot, room descriptions are sparse, characters send you on fetching quests while telling you exactly what you should do, and all the interesting parts of the game are red herrings (for example, (Spoiler - click to show)the Morse code on the radio which I bothered to decode, the additional spells for the cauldron, and the cube which seems like it should have more scientific complexity but doesn't ). Despite this, Elsegar had so much potential!

For the most part, the parser is very kind. Exits are always clear and the game always seemed to understand what I was trying to do. One bizarre moment comes at the beginning, when you're told you can't get off the bed because the door is closed, though nothing in the room description indicates that the door is blocking you from standing up. Otherwise, things are clean and the presentation was crisp. The next game from this author will hopefully be more complex and give the protagonist motivations.

- Edo, October 14, 2020

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A simple broad fantasy game with maze, October 8, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

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.

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