Happyland

by Rob Fitzel

Mystery
2020

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A complex custom parser web game with a deep detective story, October 14, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

I beta tested this game.

This is another custom parser game, but this one is web-enabled, and features a complex realtime murder investigation in the vein of Deadline (which is cited as a direct inspiration).

Just like in Deadline, you have a large building full of independently moving people, time events that change everything, and the ability to analyse (although here we carry our own fingerprinting machine and chemical analyzer).

The parser is not bad for a custom parser; in fact, people's custom parser writing skills in general seem to be improving a lot from year to year. There are some niceties that need some improvement, though. For instance, the game tells you to sample things in the format 'SAMPLE __________', but if you try to sample the wrong things (like SAMPLE PANEL) it throws an error message as if SAMPLE wasn't recognized. Of course, I beta tested it so I should have found and reported that myself.

Deadline was the hardest of all the Infocom games for me to play, and I ran to the hints quickly. This game is also hard, but plays by the same rules as Deadline. Without any hints, I expect this game to take several hours. The mystery is quite elaborate; I only ever found the most obvious suspect, but I'm interested in still looking for the truth.

If you liked Infocom's mysteries, you'll definitely like this, and it's a worthy successor to them.

-Polish: As indicated above, the custom parser could use a little tuning up.
-Descriptivenss: The descriptions are generally small and bare.
+Interactivity: The mechanics are ingenious and the puzzle is clever.
+Emotional impact: I found this game intriguing.
+Would I play again? One day I plan on revisiting this game.