Sunset Over Savannah

by Ivan Cockrum

Fantasy
1997

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Number of Reviews: 9
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Look through rose-colored glasses, April 14, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)

"Sunset" was a breathtaking journey of beautiful imagery, some humorous game responses to wrong solutions, and a wonderful blend of realism and fantasy that somehow worked.

I wish I could give this five stars, but there were some puzzles that weren't well-clued and there were a few sections where I spent time wandering around and around trying to figure out what I hadn't done. The frustrating thing was that I had to look up hints for puzzles which I should have been able to accomplish on my own but for precise actions that had me needing to read the author's mind. The puzzles were clued, but the problem was that it's only in hindsight that you see that. If just playing the game, the clues feel like a part of the scenery description and don't necessarily prompt you to act on them.

On the upside, some puzzles had alternate solutions, which I ended up finding, so it wasn't necessary to find all the possible items. And there are a lot of items that are just red herrings, so don't expect to need all of them.

Oh, another thing I found frustrating was that you can only carry limited amounts of items, which means a lot of picking up and dropping and walking back and forth if you happened to be missing something you needed for a puzzle.

I also found some minor bugs. (Spoiler - click to show)I was digging with a sieve, but the text said I was using a shingle. When I tried to tie something to myself, it said I couldn't, and if I tied the object to my arm, it said I'd attached it to my wrist. There is a point where you can't take any more glass bottles from the pile. If underwater in the diving bell, if you type "exit bell," you leave the bell but don't lose any oxygen. Because of these text errors, some solutions were kind of spoiled.

Beware the hint system. It can be spoilery. And I don't mean in the sense that it gives away solutions. The various objectives are listed specifically and not really context-sensitive, so if you call them up, you'll get glimpses into puzzles you may not have figured out exist yet.

Still, the writing is excellent and the emotional impact of the various discoveries the player character makes is lasting and memorable. (Spoiler - click to show)Two of my favorites are the sleeping dragon and the crystal castle. And I got a perverse satisfaction out of killing and eating the crab. The setting and immersion are well done, with nice touches of color and detail that made the game world come alive. Emphasis on how the player character feels both physically and emotionally was a fun twist, and helped in identification and understanding. Also liked the option to list exits all the time. I hate the, "You can't go that way."

The strength of the literary aspect of the game is what makes this game recommended. If not for that, the game would have been three stars because of the puzzle frustration.