The Hunting Lodge

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Lodge hunts you, sort of, September 9, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: EctoComp 2012

The Hunting Lodge was a shocking shift from the author's IFComp 2012 entry In a Manor of Speaking, submitted for EctoComp one month after. Both have unexpected deaths. This has fewer jokes--though they're there, in the descriptions, if you look. The author himself mentioned, when he re-released the game, that his post-comp fixes included some jokes, because he couldn't help himself. I think the changes are for the better.

The author describes it as partially influenced by Hunt the Wumpus, and it is, only the map is slightly imbalanced, and there are fewer rooms. You wouldn't know this at first, as you're driven to a barren hunting lodge where you haven't heard anything from your brother for a while. Then there's a moment when you know you're in trouble, because of something you did, which is rather good. Then the chase starts. There is a way to defeat the monster and exit.

The strategy here is tricky. The monster's roaring is louder the closer it gets, so you need to, whenever possible, avoid rooms with two exits. But of course one of the things you need is in such a room, and you must visit a dead end as well. So there's a chance you'll just get killed by the monster, and that's luck. But it adds to the fear, which makes it a good EctoComp entry. There's also a timed bit at the end, and you may be helplessly trapped by the monster as time runs out. More scary fun.

Given the author, I was sort of expecting a mounted moose head that gave you a raspberry or wet willy when you werenít looking, or perhaps a Big Mouth Billy Bass gone bad. There is humor there (a note that breaks the fourth wall explains the rules) and some subtler hat-tips to authors the writer likes, but the main plot is dead serious. It's easy to forget those jokes.

Post-comp I think the author did a good job of fixing bugs and balancing gameplay. It's a quick tense effective experience. We should all try divergences like this from our main style. I know I haven't, and I'd like to.

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