The Magic Word

by B.J. Best profile


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Number of Ratings: 3
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In which a particularly uncourteous imp tries to break your brain., September 14, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

This game is based on an idea of mine that had been lingering in the back of my mind for a long time. SeedComp seemed like a perfect opportunity to put it out there and see what might come of it.
B.J. Best took the intro/starting room I wrote and ran with it, expanding my vague outline to a full-fledged puzzle game that far exceeded my expectations.

I loved it. I was teetering on that fine edge between challenge and frustration the whole time, without (and this is the brilliant bit) ever slipping into desperation. A feeling similar to playing MarioTM and falling from an unstable platform into a spiked hole for the sixteenth time, but still being convinced you’ll get it next time.

The puzzles require very careful observation and very thorough experimentation, but they follow a reliable cause-effect chain and are perfectly fair.

There are a bunch of independent timers and turn-based puzzles to tackle, lots of buttons and a myriad of levers and wheels. The more I discovered during playtesting, the more I stood in awe of the complex technical mechanisms under the hood.

I felt like I could completely put my trust in the game, and that any blockades I encountered were logically solvable. The pleasant frustration I had during play came from the feeling that I could almost touch the solution with my fingertips, almost grasp the mechanics underneath, but not quite yet.

----One more test, one more variable to check...
What happens if I pull this lever first?----

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Whoof. Fiendishly difficult is right, September 14, 2023
by pieartsy (New York)
Related reviews: seedcomp

I did not like this game very much. I suck at parsers, and this game (unlike the other, much kinder, parsers I've played) doesn’t try to hold your hand about it. In fact (to continue the metaphor) it seemed to actively slap my hand for sucking at parsers. Though I guess I can’t hold that too hard against it given it bills itself as “fiendishly difficult”.

I did like the fan puzzle, that was the only pleasing one for me. After I got the rectangle from the slot machine, I wasted an unpleasant amount of time trying to get 3 stars and see what could be gotten from that, only to find out it was utterly pointless to do so. I tried turning the timer as soon as I had that ability and was told I couldn’t do it, not realizing that I had to wait until it hit 30 seconds. So I also wasted a lot of time saving and restoring, because I thought I literally had <60 moves to solve everything and that’s it and I didn’t want to find out how the ANNOYING ALL CAPS IMP was gonna condescendingly punish me for failing at the fiendishly difficult puzzles. The hint system doesn’t describe how to actually work the lamps, which felt like a major flaw in a player aid that’s supposed to help you solve the game.

The puzzles seem very clever and the implementation is probably very genius on the inside, but none of that panned out to a game I actually enjoyed.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Maddening puzzles personified, March 31, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This game really hit me in a weird spot because it coincided with an idea of mine in an amusing way.

In my own game, I wanted to come up with something to 'scare' the player, a horrible device so terrible that every player would run in fear, only for it to turn out to be a joke that can be solved in one move.

My device was called 'hideous contraption' and had random dice, twenty six levers, 8 strings corresponding to elements, Towers of hanoi, goat and cabbage, etc.

But it was all a joke.

This game is just like that. But not a joke. The most horrifying thing I could think of a game having, that's what this game is.

After a brief intro, you find yourself in a room with two switches, fives lamps, rope, a ladder that is movable, an exit, a chandelier, a button, a fitting, a track with fire on it, moveable scales, an egg timer, etc.

You have to manipulate all of these devices, plus far more. Oh, and your verbs are extremely limited to 2 or 3 at a time. Oh, and there's a turn limit. Multiple ones, in fact.

I just refused to play it. Hints wouldn't give the full experience for this game, and I just frankly didn't want to play this type of game. I like games where you don't need to take notes, just learning over time.

I said as much to Mike Russo, a tester of this game, and he said it wasn't that bad.

I drew a very extensive diagram of this game, took careful notes, and got 4 or 5 points by being careful and a sixth point by dumb luck. At that point I looked at the hints.

I don't like this game style and don't want to see games like this in the future, but that's my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the general populace, and should not be an impediment to future games in this genre. However, I do recognize the craft and polish that went into the game, and the storytelling is exquisitely good given the circumstances.

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