Navigatio

by P. James Garrett

2020

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Medieval Introcomp intro has me keen for more., November 23, 2021
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: Introcomp 2020, Inform

(This is a review of the 2020 Introcomp version of Navigatio. The review is edited from a blog post I made during the competition.)

Navigatio (The Confession of the Second Man) is a parser-driven IntroComp 2020 entry from P. James Garrett. It's the first chapter of the prospective longer adventure and took me about twenty minutes to complete.

The PC in Navigatio is a monk's assistant at a monastery in the middle ages. The prologue about his rough upbringing and how he got to where he is is catchy and confidently delivered, even if there was one element of it I didn't quite understand. Then comes the first prose of the game proper

Frozen Northern Bank

It is the third of a series of strange mornings. Lauds was late, but time has been misbehaving. So have the monks of this community.


which I really like. It conveys a lot, moving through levels of awareness and connecting ideas quickly.

In the vein of 'assistant' games, the PC is tasked with fetching news and objects, communicating between different NPCs and solving environmental puzzles that get in the way of his goals. The monastery environment is compelling, and apparently the product of some research, sporting religious and manuscript-making details that evoke time and place. The implementation of the physical details is light, and probably the area of the game I'd most like to see beefed up in a later release.

The puzzles in this intro are simple and well-cued. I also nabbed some items that I expect will be of use in a subsequent chapter. The transition to chapter two has several elements that are hooky, including the continuation of a mystery thread set up in the first chapter and a suggestion that the metaphysical nature of the world might change as the game continues. I'm keen to see more either way. Some typos aside, Navigatio is well-written and well-directed, with a strong sense of place (including a few random environmental elements for flavour) and effective characterisation between the PC and his mentor. I would like to see stronger implementation of the environment in an expanded version, mostly so that the game would have a means of elaborating on its world's interesting details.