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Prying and jimmying hampered by some typical first game problems., January 12, 2011
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.