The Hidden King's Tomb

by Josh


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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Speedrun Grave Robbing, November 22, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

Extremely short and small parser-based exploration game. Escape the Tomb you’ve been pushed into! The opening is very efficient, immediately setting stakes and goals, then turning you loose. You are piloting a blank slate protagonist, which is fine as this is definitely not a character driven game.

This one feels like a learning exercise more than anything. It is a very small 6 room tomb (not counting connecting hallways). It does have more than its share of objects to collect and to lesser extent manipulate, but almost none of those objects do anything useful even for scoring purposes. You can move them around, admire them in your inventory, and mostly be told “you don’t need to” when trying to apply them to the environment.

The text is serviceable enough, mostly descriptive, although insufficient for mapping. For example you are told there is a crack in the wall through which you can see something interesting, but nowhere are you told WHICH wall, should you want to explore that direction. In the end the map is small enough not to matter, but it does interfere with your ability to hold it in your head. More distressingly, where the room descriptions are more fleshed out, the nouns are not implemented. So you can be told “there is a river here” but when you try to examine it “there is no such thing here.” That feels like a pretty quick and easy rule of thumb: if you mention a noun, have a response when the player examines the noun. It doesn’t impact the gameplay, but definitely adds polish to the product.

There’s really only one puzzle to solve, and it's reasonably straightforward, befitting the scope of the piece. The geometry of the tomb doesn’t immediately suggest the answer, but is imprecise enough that it doesn’t contradict it either. As you progress in solving the puzzle, the descriptive text could be more state aware. (Spoiler - click to show)When water runs through the tomb, only some of the rooms acknowledge the presence, and depending on the room, the volume of water is inconsistent.

As a coding exercise, I would call it functionally complete. No major bugs, no unwinnable states I could observe, consistent object behavior. Would definitely recommend fleshing out the noun space. The most bang to buck would come from polishing the descriptive text to make the thing internally consistent and clear. As is, a Mechanical excercise.

Played: 10/17/22
Playtime: 20min, finished
Artistic/Technical rankings: Mechanical/Mostly Seamless
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless