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About the Story
"What you expected would be a fun outing in scenic Rylvania turns into a gruesome nightmare, with *you* playing the starring role. Find out what it's like to be alternately the source and challenger of evil in the tiny Eastern European province. Test your very moral fiber as you decide to damn yourself and save others -- or vice versa." [author's blurb, from The (Other) TADS Games List version 1.2]
Creepy, satisfyingly scary. You're on a hiking trip in Central Europe, and your companion gets killed by werewolves--and you're next on the menu. There are lots of gratuitous puzzles, and some of them aren't very interesting--but a few are pretty creative, and the plot is unusually well done for a puzzle-oriented game. Has an interesting twist at the end--it's an early prototype of what's come to be known as the Zarfian ending. Very gory in parts. Originally released as shareware, but when a project to release all the Adventions games on a CD failed, this and all the rest were made available for free.
-- Duncan Stevens
A nice vampire game. Very much based on object puzzles and hunting for potion ingredients, but there's some good interactive storytelling underlying it. Full of clichés, but it delivers them with considerable gusto. I hope I'm not giving away too much here, but it's hard to write a review without mentioning the first of the game's big plot twists: fairly early on, the player character is turned into a vampire. It doesn't really carry the this far enough, though. Your special powers are few and unsatisfying, you only seem to have superhuman strength when the plot calls for it, and you can be killed surprisingly easily for one of the undead. But it does provide the basis for a modal environment, with some locations that you can only visit as a human and others that you can only visit as a vampire. Two mazes, scattered violence, easy to lock yourself out of victory, expects you to dig in places just because you can. The "help" command gives gentle guidance through the early stages of the game.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
Well, the game starts with you and your friend Carolyn being attacked by a pack of wolves during a trip through Rylvania, a small country somewhere in the backwoods of Central Europe. [...] Then, just as things really got rolling, I was resolutely grabbed by the collar, pulled back, and told, "Not so fast, my friend. From now on, you've got to do it the usual way -- explore, pick up things, and enjoy yourself". This sudden change alone was baffling enough; to make things worse, it turned out that one had to be pretty careful, if not pedantic, in collecting items -- the game is split in two parts, with many rooms in the first part no longer accessible when you reach the second stage; however, puzzles at stage 2 often require objects from stage 1 to be solved, so that you're very likely to lock yourself out of victory, and find out something is wrong only several hundred turns later (sometimes without a hint what item is needed, exactly). (Valentine Kopteltsev)
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This is a nice game. It's very big and there's lots of booty to collect and carry. I like that - it makes me feel (wrongly) like I'm getting somewhere. I found the UNDO command in TADS particularly useful after making a stupid move - and I did make one or two, believe it or not. The game has a solemn atmosphere in keeping with the scenario but there are some nice humorous touches including some footnotes - but you really need to be an Infocom/Unnkulian nut to get the best from them. (Alan Medley)
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The quality of writing in Rylvania is superb, with exquisite location and object descriptions; and you are quickly drawn into the utterly believable game world as the story opens on a scene charged with drama, and proceeds with unrelenting tension from there to the bitter end. (Bev Truter)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This is the way it should always be done. The atmosphere is never ruined by silly inside jokes or pseudo intellectual political statements. The atmosphere is just perfect. Once you get to the castle it feels a lot like Shadowgate but with more interaction with NPCs (Spoiler - click to show)when the doctor is chasing you your pulse really rises. It has a time limit (Spoiler - click to show)once you become a vampire you may die of hunger. Some items in the castle are completely useless so you are not likely to finish the game on the first or second run without some experimentation. You have to write lots of notes and that's part of the greatness of this game. It never gets boring thanks to the awesome story and the flawless atmosphere. There are only a couple of references to Looney Tunes, Tin Tin and other stuff that never break the atmosphere.
Play it. And do not use a walkthrough. Part of the enjoyment is to figure stuff out by yourself writing notes. You don't want to finish it in 45 minutes (totally possible with a walkthrough, since the game is not terribly long).
This game was the earliest big horror hit after the Lurking Horror. It was made by Adventions, who were the most influential group between the end of Infocom and the rise of Inform.
Rylvania is one of their better games, with The Legend Lives!, because it eschews the horrible puns and bad humor of earlier games (except for one item which is an ad for Unnkulia 0). However, it is still all over the map with tone.
It has some of the feel of Bram Smoker's original Dracula, with a trip through Europe, wolves, a fearful village, an abandoned castle, the torment of a loved one.
Like all Adventions games, it is a bit unfair or tedious at times, but overall not bad for fans of old school games.
It has some gratuitous violence at some points which made the PCs characterization hard to figure out.
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