The Beast of Torrack Moor

by Linda Wright

Mystery
1988

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- chris00, March 20, 2015

Pretty Surprising Given Its Age, February 24, 2014

I spent a large part of the day tinkering with some very old school games, and when I saw this one had an Inform port, I jumped at the chance to see if it would hold up to modern standards with a better engine.

The answer is "sort of"; the world and implementation are solidly three stars, but the unfairness of some of the puzzles makes it hard to appreciate. It's pretty obvious that the game is designed to take a couple of weeks of exhaustive searching to solve, but the plot really wasn't interesting enough for me to want to devote that much energy to it.

It must have been an innovative game by the standards of the time, with NPCs who move around on schedules and a plot that actually drives the exploration and advances as you play. The puzzle of managing your heroine's time isn't overly difficult and adds life to the world, but the NPC dialogues are unfortunately limited and fiddly, and often require very specific phrasing to trigger the required result.

(Spoiler - click to show)And I don't know about you, but after crossing a moor in a rainstorm, climbing down a steep, muddy cliff, crossing a raging river, reaching a safe place, lighting a fire, and heating up some grub, I INSIST on walking all the way back to town because I forgot to order coffee at noon and thus lacked a spoon. Eat with my fingers? What am I, a barbarian? This is even funnier when you find out that the heroine is so frail she collapses from exhaustion if she spends the night without a blanket.

I'm proud of myself for finishing it, even though I had to dig into the source pretty hard to find a few hidden items (I somehow didn't think to search, look at, and examine every single piece of scenery in every single room just in case a plot item might be hidden there. And each action uses up a minute of game time).

It's not the game's fault that gamers expect a lot more today, but it still has to be judged against modern games because those are what it's competing with for a gamer's attention. And I would say this is worthy of your attention, but don't be surprised if you have to sneak a peek at the source eventually.



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