Lord Bellwater's Secret

by Sam Gordon profile


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Number of Ratings: 69
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- Vulturous, April 19, 2022

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Carefully crafted, player-friendly mistery, April 18, 2022

I got drawn into this piece because of its setting: it is not everyday that I get to play a serviceman to a Victorian household!. During the few first few turns I am introduced to my character (Bert Smith), the place (the master's study) and my motivations (furtively searching for answers about the death of Elsie, Bert's girlfriend) but I am also let free to wander the location as I take in some more pieces of the story.

Most of the game is played in a single room with a few points of interest in which we gather clues to solve the greater riddle. Movement between items and places is seamless and in that sense (and many others, such as in the general framework and inventory management) I was reminded of Final Selection - also by Sam Gordon - but where that game is heavy on the puzzles and red herrings, Lord Bellwater's Secret is generous with its storytelling and places the puzzles as little plot devices.

Each puzzle and clue found is cohesive with the rest and moves the player closer to the heart of the mistery. There is plenty of classic adventure trickery here (Spoiler - click to show)(the secret book, the crest that opens a hidden crevice) but there are also affordable leaps of logic (Spoiler - click to show)(the hidden safe box and its combination) and a heart-racing finale. I found the sense of rhythm to be good, certainly helped by its relative shortness and self-contained nature. The piece is also very fair to the player: I remained convinced that there was nothing being obscured behind specific verbs, never got really stuck and never felt unwelcome. This is a game that wants to be played.

The writing also gets a good mileage out of the locale. Without being overly verbose there is enough text to picture (and beautifully color) the surroundings and characters. It helps that of information is conveyed not only from Bert's point of view but also from (Spoiler - click to show)Bert's thoughts and the handwriting of other characters, which report a lot about their human qualities. Should I have to offer a highlight of the writing I would examine Cadogan Square again; it is just scenery but there is something about the silhouette of London in the moonlight.

As for extras, the game shows care and respect: there are sections regarding historical accuracy, a choice of date format, a reminder of the plot... And there is of course a hint system which could spoil the fun, so I only recommend a trip there once the game is finished, to search for missed clues (I got two endings, I think there are more).

In a nutshell, I consider Lord Bellwater's Secret to be a very good game and I can fully recommend it to anyone. Those looking for a lengthy game, complex character development, obtuse plots twists or overwhelmingly large worlds might not find their tastes here, but anyone up for a fun mistery romp will come out satisfied.

- Edo, January 3, 2022

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A room investigation., September 25, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: History

Being trapped ina single room with a bunch of puzzles is not normally my preferred cup of IF-tea. Lord Bellwater's Secret however managed to draw me in by the exquisite writing and the intruiging backstory.

The old Lord Bellwater has died and his estate has been taken over by his only son. Soon after your beloved Elsie took a suspicious fall out of a window while she was cleaning the study. You, an aspiring groom of the household, sneak in at night to investigate and clear up the muddy circumstances of your sweetheart's death.

The gameplay consists mostly of thoroughly examining everything in the room, gathering clues and piecing together the true happenstances surrounding Elsie's death, and the peculiarities of the young master's take-over.

I was amazed at the depth of implementation of the library, with more than a thousand books you can supposedly read, and the detailed backstory that is revealed in a large number of letters, texts and diaries there are to be found in the room. There are three code-cracking puzzles that require thoughtful handling of the written clues. The solutions should become obvious to the player who does the work and carefully investigates the entire room.

The game very believably breathes the atmosphere of the time-period it is set in, the middle of the nineteenth century. There are hints all over the place to the relationship between the privileged upper class and the "downstairs people".

Coincidentally, just a week before I played Lord Bellwater's Secret I had read the novel The Quincunx by Charles Paliser. I don't know if or in how much the author was inspired by this book, or if he even read it. It did seem to me that I had found a secret door into one of the most suspenseful scenes from that book, where I could place myself in the place of the protagonist. This gave an extra dimension of immersion to the game.

An exciting investigation that is sure to keep the grey cells working overtime for a few hours. Recommended.

- Marco Innocenti (Florence, Italy), September 19, 2021

- Zape, May 10, 2021

- xkia, November 16, 2020

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An interesting, short one-room mystery intrigue game, October 22, 2020

This game is highly rated, which is why I tried it. It is fairly short, and has two difficult puzzles, as well as some trouble at first until you realize that you have to examine every object in the room (okay, maybe it' s just me).

The first puzzle (involving a sequence of numbers) was very ingenious. I thought at first the answer would involve some experimentation, but it was all very logical in the end, though I didn't solve it myself.

The second puzzle is a bit more obscure, but fun.

Altogether, it is not very long, and I would recommend it only to puzzle fiends. Those who are into intrigue may find it worthwhile to skip the two puzzles via walkthrough.

- Laney Berry, September 23, 2020

- kierlani, April 30, 2020

- Sammel, April 4, 2020

- mrfrobozzo, March 28, 2019

- mapped, March 22, 2019

- elias67, March 12, 2019

- play_all_day, June 12, 2018

- MattC, January 14, 2018

- Sobol (Russia), August 6, 2017

- Lucifalle, April 26, 2017

- ifMUD_Olly (Montana, USA), April 21, 2017

- Matt Bates, May 19, 2016

- CasualGamer33356, October 15, 2015

- hoopla, March 25, 2015

- Snave, November 12, 2014

- EllaClass, November 5, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

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