Dark Realm

by D.B.T profile profile profile

Horror
2014

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A home-brew horror maze with a timer and atmospheric room descriptions., February 3, 2016

D.B.T has written 42 games since August of 2014; only one of these has a real review on IFDB, and most have one or fewer ratings. They are written in QBasic, I believe, although some are available as downloadable executable files.

I decided to try one of these games. When I started up the game, I was entertained to see two skulls made with ascii art. The game has a countdown timer of 8 or 9 minutes, and I finished it in 5 or 6.

The game is a maze with two items you can pick up. HELP lists all verbs that you need.

The one real review of a DBT game is pretty harsh; and I have to admit, by the standards of the type of parser games most popular right now, it is not well put together.

However, the game isn't TRYING to be a current, modern parser game or even a throwback to classic games. It is trying to be it's own thing. The game cites Maniac Mansion, Darkseed (which I haven't played), and Scott Adams. In a way that I really can't explain, it reminded me of early versions of Oregon Trail.

Most of the game consists of just wandering around an easily navigable maze absorbing atmospheric room descriptions in green text on black background. The material is over the top, but it's meant to be that way. You are exploring a dreamscape, and trying to find the source of the evil in the dreamscape. Note that you have to refer to items by their full name to use them or pick them up.

All in all, it reminded me of my creepypasta reading phase. Stuff like Jeff the Killer or anything involving Herobrine. Or like Sci-Fi channel movies. I can see how someone could get into D.B.T.'s games and look forward to each release.

So, for standard IF games, this is not that great. But in it's own category, it is enjoyable.


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Henri, May 28, 2017 (updated January 24, 2021) - Reply
MathBrush, in your review you wrote, "D.B.T has written 42 games since August of 2014; only one of these has a real review on IFDB, and most have one or fewer ratings. They are written in QBasic, I believe, although some are available as downloadable executable files."

They're written in QBasic and they're downloadable as Windows-only executable files too.

"I decided to try one of these games. When I started up the game, I was entertained to see two skulls made with ascii art."

You're easily entertained.

"The game is a maze with two items you can pick up. HELP lists all verbs that you need."

Sometimes you can say GET instead of TAKE. Sometimes you can't. There's no apparent reason for the inconsistency.

"The one real review of a DBT game is pretty harsh; and I have to admit, by the standards of the type of parser games most popular right now, it is not well put together."

Amen.

"However, the game isn't TRYING to be a current, modern parser game or even a throwback to classic games. It is trying to be it's own thing. The game cites Maniac Mansion, Darkseed (which I haven't played), and Scott Adams. In a way that I really can't explain, it reminded me of early versions of Oregon Trail."

*I* can't explain why it reminded you of Oregon Trail either. Oregon Trail was actually a game. It had a gameplay mechanic, a defined goal, and your actions felt meaningful and had consequences (even if most of those consequences turned out to be dysentery).

Dark Realm has none of that. If it's trying to be a tribute to Scott Adams, then it utterly fails. Some of the Scott Adams games had clever puzzles, competent writing, a clear goal, and an actual parser. Dark Realm has none of the above.

There are no puzzles by any useful definition of the word.

The writing tries to be eerie and haunting, but it just ends up being crass and clichéd, and it's littered with typos and bad grammar.

As far as I can tell, there's no real goal other than to simply wander around the maze of rooms until the nothingness stops, and then to type the only command available to you even though there's no sane reason to do so -- and then the game ends!

And, finally, there is no parser.

I repeat: there is no parser. A quick glance at the QBasic source code for (an earlier version of) Dark Realm, or any other DBT game, will show you that the author (and I use the word loosely) is doing only the crudest of string-matching -- stuff like this: IF command$ = "TAKE LAMP" THEN GOTO C1 ELSE IF command$="EXAMINE LAMP" THEN GOTO C2... which means that you have to type in strings of text in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY the author did in his source code if you want the game to understand what you mean -- including any typos that the author made in the source! This is simply appalling!

"Most of the game consists of just wandering around an easily navigable maze absorbing atmospheric room descriptions in green text on black"

That's the author's attempt at mimicking the appearance of an MS-DOS display, I suppose. Which he successfully does. So, um, yay for him... I guess?!

"You are exploring a dreamscape, and trying to find the source of the evil in the dreamscape."

It's a pity that the game completely fails to explain that that's what you're supposed to be doing.

"Note that you have to refer to items by their full name to use them or pick them up."

See under "Parser, absence of".

"All in all, it reminded me of my creepypasta reading phase. Stuff like Jeff the Killer or anything involving Herobrine."

Um, I'll take your word for it.

"Or like Sci-Fi channel movies."

[Guffaw! Spit-take! Choke!??!]

"I can see how someone could get into D.B.T.'s games and look forward to each release."

Then you have a way better imagination than he does, and I sincerely hope you put it to good use by writing more IF.

"So, for standard IF games, this is not that great. But in it's own category, it is enjoyable."

I don't think you've adequately explained what its own "category" actually is. I'd say that Dark Realm was an homage to DOS text adventure games of the 1980s or 90s, but a poorly executed homage -- a "domage", if you will -- by an author who isn't particularly good at coding or writing.

(Btw, I don't understand how the author -- "D.B.T", alias "Bishopofbasic" -- could have replied to your review *before* you (MathBrush) had actually posted the review itself, which is what seems to have happened if you look at the dates on the two posts here!?)
Bishopofbasic, October 25, 2015 - Reply
Thank you for the awesome review.
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