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About the Story
Your father is dead and you’re sure your uncle is responsible. You tried to tell your mother so. Instead of believing you, she married him. Now you’re going to uncover the truth and set things right...
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This Scott Adams game was designed with the retro format in mind. The download includes source code with design notes, and it's fascinating to see the discussion of how many lines of text will fit where and what needs to be removed.
This game is a shortish text adventure using the Scott Adams format (short in the sense of 7 treasures and about 16 rooms; it takes a good hour or more to finish without hints, longer if you get stuck like I did). It's based off of Hamlet and contains many joking references to it.
This is a hard game. Much of the ease of modern parser games comes from adaptive hints or helpful responses to incorrect actions. This game has some of that, but only so much can fit into the constrained format. I had to request help and then discovered the (well-commented and organized) source code provided in the download.
While I appreciate the craftsmanship in the game, it definitely is the type to be solved by careful exploration of the state space and deliberative thinking, as opposed to my general play style of 'charge ahead recklessly and see where the story takes me'.
I will say that I think this is much more successful as a game than Graham Nelson's adaptation of The Tempest or my own Sherlock Holmes adaptations.
A game designed to answer the question, what might have resulted had Scott Adams decided to release a series of games based on Shakespeare's plays. Ghost King is written in the same programming language, and within the same tight memory constraints as the original Adventure International titles. The author has tried very hard to capture the essence of those early text adventures, right down to the terse messages, odd use of capitalisation and occasional typo. In this he succeeds magnificently, and at times you could really believe you're playing a game made in 1980. It also succeeds in translating the main story beats of Hamlet into a series of object-based puzzles, retaining some of Shakespeare's best lines, and including a "find the *treasures*" side-quest into the bargain.
If I were to assign an Adventure International difficulty level to this game, I'd have to make it "advanced". You do need to be reasonably familiar with the play to get very far with it, and some of the puzzles are less intuitive than those in the early Scott Adams Adventures. I was a beta tester, but I was unable to solve it without hints from the author, whereas I've solved most of Adams's "moderate" games without hints. Ghost King does a great job of juggling the complex subject matter with the antiquated authoring system and quirky style of an Adams game, but loses something of the latter in translation. If anything, the author could have been a little more irreverent with his source material, thrown in the odd anachronism, perhaps, or a little more low-brow humour. (There is one particular word-play puzzle, though, that made me laugh out loud!)
Overall, this is an excellent pastiche, right down to the cover art, and highly recommended to fans of the Scott Adams Adventures. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it well.
If you enjoyed Ghost King...
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