Number of Reviews: 5
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YMMV, but I got mileage, August 3, 2021
Seeing this game place second-to-last in ParserComp was the motivation I needed to write a review. I rather liked it, and yet I can't blame those that didn't.
It certainly has faults, and I think many people, when looking for ways to separate games, may often rely on those faults. Or the faults may be magnified because other things show serious competence: the homebrew parser works. The whole picture fits, once you get past a certain point. The author allows shortcuts with F-keys, which I think is the sort of innovation ParserComp hoped to provoke.
Perhaps the title was a bit too bland (first impressions are important) and that, coupled with a lot of common sorts of fantasy items, let some players' minds wander.
That's not to say that I can pinpoint other entries that deserve to be below this. There's always going to be an odd man out, but compared to, say, the bottom few entries in IFComp for the first 15 years, this is light years ahead. It just feels like the author wasn't fully able to explore or communicate their vision. And I think, to a certain extent, the polish on the technical side outstripped the more subjective stuff. For instance, at the beginning, I fumbled around for a few moves but then began reading what I was supposed to. I got a message saying "You may wish to read <clues I was in the process of reading>." Which is technically correct, but a bit tone-deaf. These are the sorts of first-effort mistakes that grow far less prevalent in the future.
And some of the puzzles probably require too much of a leap without a walkthrough--but then again, I am the sort of judge who gives mulligans for too-tricky puzzles if a walkthrough is handy and I could see myself making a similar oversight. This may be a recommendation for some, but it may be discouragement for others. I suppose it depends on the imperfections you're willing to tolerate.
SS is certainly inviting enough, if a bit generic. Some parts feel overwritten, and some objects get lost in description. Yet I felt it filled enough holes I didn't know were there that it's worth the time to revisit. I'll probably need a walkthrough, along with maps. But it feels like the sort of game I'd want to replay to get ready to judge the next ParserComp.