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About the Story
You awake in a strange dark room after being jumped in an alley. It would be best not to wait for those responsible to return.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Safe is Mister Wochinski's first IF, a little escape game with a fairly strict time limit. You wake up in a cellar and have to break out of your cabin prison before your mysterious captor(s) get all homicidally impatient on you.
The small set of prying and jimmying puzzles you must solve in the space of a few rooms would be more satisfying if they weren't hampered by some traditional adventure programming oversights. There are obvious synonym problems and absences (EG "workbench" is recognised, but "bench" produces "You can't see any such thing."). There's some verb guessing. Weirdness and a lack of accessibility attend some important objects (Spoiler - click to show)("pry hinges with screwdriver" produces the response "You must supply a second noun.") and the game generally only accepts one way of phrasing the most important commands you will need to enter.
Your inventory space is tiny and you have to constantly pick up and drop the relatively numerous props to keep experimenting with them. This could be annoying on its own, but makes the game particularly difficult when the time limit is so stringent. Almost every command in the game causes another minute of time to pass, even LOOK, EXAMINE and INVENTORY. You will definitely need to make some highly optimised saved games as launch points for experimentation – at least if you don't want to resort to the hints.
It's good news that the built-in hints are comprehensive. I had to turn to them once, and I realised when I did that I was being held up by implementation troubles rather than by a lack of ideas on how to proceed. A tighter version of this game would hold up happily as a quickie escape game, but the game that is demonstrates a range of typical first game programming and design oversights. Here's to the next game and tighter implementation.
It's only the last puzzle that's not forgivable (more on that in a bit). The rest of the game is fine, and fairly solid for a first release. The cover art effectively sets the tone. The room descriptions aren't ornate, but they get the job done. Again, effective is probably the best way to characterize them. Even the concept that kicks off the game works.
However, there are problems: missing punctuation, forbidden actions, stock responses, parser problems, and a heck of a lot of loose ends. The forbidden actions are what got to me. You're trapped in a cabin, but you can't break the windows? You can't do violent things to vulnerable parts of doors? It just didn't make sense. Most people would do those things in such a situation and make their escape fairly quickly. That leads us to the huge, honking annoyance in the center of the room: the last puzzle.
The last puzzle is one of these intricate affairs that involves doing a lot of nonstandard things with a door. You're fought by the parser, whose responses (when they make sense) lead you to believe that you can't do what you end up needing to do. When you do those things, strangely, the effects are not mentioned in the room description. Fortunately, the game provides hints. Unless you have immense patience, you'll need them.
For a first time out, Safe is not bad. If the game were beta-tested, I have no doubt that the vast majority of these problems would have been corrected. In any case, I'm looking forward to more from this author.
Safe on IFDB
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This is version 7 of this page, edited by Benjamin Wochinski on 22 January 2011 at 8:50pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item