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About the Story
Welcome to Castle Adventure! Written and directed by Ben Chenoweth (Copyright 2002 Grinnan Berrit Software). Adapted to Inform 7 by Ben Chenoweth, 2012.
23rd Place - 18th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2012)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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(I originally published this review on 8 October 2012 as part of my blog of IFComp 2012. This was the 11th of 26 games I reviewed.)
Thou shouldst save and save often in Castle Adventure! for thou art without UNDO capability and opportunities for thine stuckening abound. This is a solidly executed rescue-the-princess toughy delivered in a simple 1980s style. None of Castle's puzzles are too tricky individually, but the overall difficulty is multiplied by the combination of the game's large map (I would estimate 100 rooms) and the fact that you can wreck your game in various ways. If Castle Adventure hadn't shipped with its Invisiclue hints, I imagine I would have been in danger of giving up on several occasions, and to make use of the clues still requires a good familiarity with the gameworld. However, I think anyone who gets into this game will enjoy acquiring that familiarity, as the map design is really excellent. Even with so many rooms, and so many of them being empty, they have a distinct style of logical arrangement and clear description that makes them easy to navigate. The empty rooms also add a sense of scale which helps give the game its atmosphere. By the time I completed Castle Adventure, I had its whole world in my head.
This is a game about the good old joys of unfettered fantasy adventuring. Forests, castles, secret passages, creatures to help and hinder, bare bones descriptions and anachronistic jokes when you look at things. Your goal of rescuing the princess isn't accompanied by a bunch of mythology, it's just self-evidently what the hero does in a world like this. And Castle Adventure is very polished. I don't recall seeing any typos or encountering any bugs I could guarantee were bugs. That is to say that there were some slightly cumbersome command moments, but the game has the spirit of a two word parser game, even if it isn't one literally, and it's possible that moments of inflexibility are just a part of the style.
A handful of puzzles seem to slyly comment on the great anti-intuitive difficulty which sometimes accompanies old school games. (Spoiler - click to show)I especially liked the part where I had to keep typing GET TORCH in a darkened room until I did manage to find the thing. Once I had it, I wondered how I was going to light it, and spent several turns trying to do so until I examined it and discovered it was an electric torch, the only such modern appliance in this otherwise ye olde game. Another potentially daunting moment was when the Princess, whom I was escorting home, fled upon seeing the ghost. If I'd been more rational at the time, I would have thought the situation through and realised that the minor maze of an area into which she'd fled was closed in. This suggests the entirely logical solution to the puzzle: You just go up into that area and check each room until you find her. But I was briefly having visions of having to explore all of the game's 100ish rooms again looking for her.
The condition for getting the game's super happy ending is probably its sneakiest feature, pretty much guaranteeing nobody will achieve it without replaying the whole thing from the start. (Spoiler - click to show)That condition is that the player must give the gold key back to the thieving magpie before entering the castle. Just reading this information in the hints brought a smile to my minor failure face. Overall, Castle Adventure was very happy-making for me. It may feel too standard for some players and its old school spirit will deter others (in fact it plainly repelled many, based on reviews I read) but in its chosen field of uncomplicated two-wordish princess rescue it is finely designed, technically polished and subtly idiosyncratic.
This fairly linear game is expansive enough to make the extensive exploration rewarding while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. Nothing novel here in the way of puzzle solutions; no character or plot development to speak of, just an old-fashioned crawl through a medieval setting.
I really enjoyed drawing the map, and solving the puzzles was simple yet satisfying. The multiple endings made me groan, however, as it requires a certain action at the very beginning of the game. Let it be said that this game really has little to no replay value. (I just read the transcript to see the different ending.)
While not particularly memorable, Castle Adventure is a solid game that won't drive you crazy and is well worth a play. I think this game would be great for a beginner.
This game is full of empty locations and mazes, with a light sprinkling of items. Many items have one chance to use them correctly, which, if you miss, there is no way to fix it.
You are trying to get into a castle to rescue a princess. Or are you? It's hard to tell. I felt a good Scott Adams vibe from this at first, but the sheer number of mazes and empty rooms became frustrating.
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