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Nominee, Best Writing - 1996 XYZZY Awards
10th Place - 2nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1996)
An interesting experiment in the presentation of darkness. To save your kingdom, you must find the legendary Stone of Aayela (a crystal that imprisons a powerful spirit of light) by exploring the dark cave where it lies by sense of touch and sound. A small game that exposes some of the untapped potential of the medium.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
[...] The atmosphere created by spending most of the adventure in the dark is moderately effective, but the use of other senses is too limited to do the situation justice. [...] (John Wood)
[...] I liked "Aayela," don't get me wrong. I simply didn't find it as clever as Magnus' previous work, particularly when compared with so many other outstanding entries this year. (C.E. Forman)
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
My main memory of Aayela was that crawling in dark is an interesting device which could make for an intense episode in a longer game (and, in fact, already has in the case of So Far.) As the bulk of this game, it made for an interesting experiment.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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In Aayela, you play a young and expendable knight off to find the magical stone that will cure the queen's illness. This story is mostly an excuse to get you into a cave, where the game's main gimmick quickly becomes apparent: your lamp goes out, and most of the game is spent in darkness.
Exploring a cave in the dark could be very interesting, but Aayela fails to do its premise justice: not only is the cave exceedingly small, but there is in fact little difference between this game and a game where you explore a cave with light. You do not have to guess the identity of objects from their form, smell, taste or sound -- feeling something will always identify it for you. From the point of view of the player, typing "examine" and typing "feel" is not much of a difference. You do have to discover some things by feeling around, but these quasi-puzzles are familiar from other games where you have to feel under or in things.
What remains is an enjoyable little tale with different endings depending on a choice the character can make at the end. Olsson writes good, if perhaps somewhat overblown, prose, and the final scene is much more memorable than the cave itself. So, as a snack sized diversion, Aayela is certainly worth playing; but much more could have been done with it.
This is a shortish game with the almost unique trick of placing a lot of gameplay in darkness in a cave. The only similar game I can think of is Hunter in Darkness or parts of So Far.
You are searching for a magical crystal in an underground cavern. The rest of the story is mainly atmosphere, and it works well. This game was nominated for an XYZZY for best writing, and deserves it.
Overall, a short, simple game, with at least 3 endings depending on your final actions.
Recommended for its fun-to-length ratio.
Hunter, in Darkness, by Andrew Plotkin
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