Creatures

by Andreas Hagelin

2020

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Includes the good and bad parts of retro games, December 1, 2020

This work is choice-based in the same way that some of the earliest computer games were choice-based most of the game is spent choosing numbers from a menu of options. It felt like something I could have enjoyed on my Apple IIe, back when running a Dungeons & Dragons module on the computer was a huge deal.

This game deserves credit for re-creating a nostalgic experience. I would have done terrible things to get my hands on a game like this back when I was in grade school.

Back in grade school, I would also get excited about the story elements in Creatures, which included electric lights, magic altars, knights, and medical experiments. In the present day, it is more difficult for me to identify a clear theme that links them together in a cohesive narrative.

This entry has a simple play loop. Answer a riddle, fight a monster, answer another riddle, start another fight. All of the riddles involve entering sequences of numbers that unlock doors. Only 4 codes are required to complete the game, but the IFcomp details suggest that more than 2 hours may be necessary.

Combat involves stats and random number generation, but enemies should be challenged in a specific order to gain equipment for winning the next battle. It means that the number crunching is narratively pointless.

Unfortunately, Creatures has ignored a lot of advances in game design that have been made over the past three decades. Parts of it feel like something that the author created to see whether it could be done, instead of something that was created to be enjoyed by an audience.

I do not have the programming skills that would allow me to create an entry like this from scratch, and Creatures works as a proof of concept. If the author develops this work, it would be interesting to see something more user-friendly that supported a larger, more intricate story.