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About the Story
On the farm, after The Event, things have gotten more complicated than they ought to be. A silly little Speed-IF. But can you solve it?
Number of Reviews: 4
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When the first game in the Hard Puzzle trilogy was released, there wasn't a trilogy. That game was a standalone game and it consumed me unlike any puzzle game I'd played before. I thought, once I had solved it, that I was finished for good, that I had broken free, and it was a highly satisfying moment.
Then Hard Puzzle 2 came out. Only then did I realize how deeply the first game had actually sunken its claws. I wasn't finished. I wasn't free. I had to solve the second game. My experience with the first practically dictated my continued devotion to the series.
In the first game you're tasked with assembling a milking stool. This process is complicated by (among other things) how many items the game provides for you to manage. In the second game you're tasked with using that stool to finally milk an animal. This process is complicated by how many animals there are to milk, and how they react to each other. Rather than swamping the player with objects as the first game had, the second game swamps the player with temperamental NPCs to herd around. And to further compound the chaos, there's a countdown timer.
But it's not as simple as herding the animals and getting the milk before the timer runs out. Or maybe it is that simple. That's the trick with these Hard Puzzle games. You never know exactly where you stand.
Coming into the second Hard Puzzle after solving the first made me approach it differently. I knew what had been required to solve the first, but did the game know I knew that? Was its solution going to follow similar logic, or was its solution going to strike into new territory? I'd rather not say. My own uncertainty enhanced the game. And indeed, if you dislike uncertainty, then you're probably best staying as far away from these Hard Puzzles as you can get.
In some respects, I think that the first Hard Puzzle was a better game because it was less noisy, so to speak. But in other respects, I think Hard Puzzle 2 surpasses its predecessor for the same reason. This sequel has more atmosphere, more character, more movement from the animal NPCs bustling around. Seeds planted in the first game about the post-apocalyptic setting begin to bloom here. A mythology begins to develop.
Once again, I hope no solution is ever published. These Hard Puzzles exist in a strange limbo where not knowing their true proportions is what makes them as engaging as they are.
Before I begin this review, I would like to make it clear that I HAVEN'T FINISHED THE GAME YET. Therefore, my review isn't a full evaluation- only a recount of my experience with it. I also haven't played the original Hard Puzzle, which might also have affected my perspective of this.
To begin: I love this game very much. However, I also have to admit that this is the only interactive fiction game I've played that actively made my life worse, so it's kind of a mixed bag here.
I began playing this game because I was intrigued by the first Hard Puzzle, but when the puzzle itself was revealed I immediately lost interest (my number one dislike in interactive fiction is overly fiddly puzzles). And then I discovered its sequel.
Hard Puzzle 2 is a game that gives you more questions than answers. You're on a farm after an unspecified incident called the Event, and some people (?) called the Family are telling you to bring them some milk. You've got a stool, a bucket, and a host of interesting animals with distinct personalities. You've also got a time limit, tracked by the sun in the sky.
The goal in this game is simple enough to keep you playing- get a bucket of milk. However, the steps to that goal are unclear.
The worldbuilding in this game feels rich and vibrant, and the writing is some of the best I've ever read (my favourite line is the description of the sun setting). However, I still have little to no idea what any of it actually means. But that's not as important.
In my title, I mention that this is the only game that has ever made me cry. That's true. During my playthrough I hit a point in the game where I was lying half-conscious on the floor of my room, typing in verb after verb while praying desperately that one of them would do something. And when one of them did, I sobbed of joy. And then fifteen minutes later I sobbed again, but of grief. I don't think there are very many other games that could have made me feel such a range of powerful emotions.
Honestly, I don't have much to complain about, with this game. Yes, I gave up on the puzzle, but I don't feel like that was necessarily the game's fault. However, there were a few moments where I did things that would be physically impossible- for example, (Spoiler - click to show)putting the stool in a stall while outside the stall and then sitting on the stool, so the game said I was outside the stall while I was also sitting on the stool inside the stall. I can't tell if this was intentional or not. Either way, it didn't really take much away from the experience.
Someday I will come back to this game and maybe finish it. Today is not that day. I feel like it has shortened my lifespan by about a quarter, but it's all worth it in the pursuit of fun, or milk, or whatever.
This game is the sequel to Hard Puzzle, and like the first, it has some purposely underimplemented parts, and lies about its difficulty and even about your goals (or does it?)
I haven't finished it yet, but I've read all the text from decompiling, and I know the last command(s), just not the middle.
In any case, the game has a large number of critters with independent AI and some emergent behavior. It's fun to play around with.
Outstanding individual puzzles by Jeremy Freese
I'm interested in examples of excellent individual puzzles in IF. In other words: not 'Spider and Web' so much as 'getting out of the chair' in 'Spider and Web'
Maintained Hall of Fame / High score list by Denk
Maintained Hall of Fame or high score list is a great idea. Let's list those games where a maintained hall of fame/high score list is maintained, preferably online.
Milking by CMG
After playing Hard Puzzle by Ade McT, which centers around assembling a "milking stool" under rather sinister circumstances, it struck me how odd it can be to feature milking in a game. This poll is for any games that include or...