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About the Story
Waking up at your holiday cabin in Germany, you discover that your entire family is missing. You must figure out what happened to them.
Feels fairly retro, but not unpleasantly so.
I must acknowledge that Vacation Gone Awry got my attention right away -- but not with the cleverness of its premise or with a nifty hook. No, what grabbed me was the copyright notice, which described the game as "copyright (c) 1988-2002." Not many works of any kind are fourteen years in the making, and IF has a sufficiently short shelf life that putting that much time into an IF game is worthy of note. More to the point, though, the world of IF changed more than a little between 1988 and 2002, and I wondered just how retro Vacation Gone Awry would feel. The short answer: fairly. But not unpleasantly so.
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A Wry Awry
In the end, Vacation struck the proper balance between atmosphere, puzzles, and writing. Released in the latter days of Infocom when it was originally written, it might have been a contender with the commercial game developers of the day. Released today it may not forge new paths on the IF-frontier, but could be an instant classic nonetheless. It is well worth the play.
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The premise of this game looked interesting. I certainly wanted to know what happened to the player character's family. So I began playing, and soon discovered what I've taken for granted playing modern IF - intuitive command entry. It should be noted that I did not grow up with text adventures. I have no nostalgia for tedious gameplay, timed puzzles, and constant restoration. My intro to IF were games like Photopia, The Moonlit Tower, and Glowgrass. All excellent works, I might add.
I will say now that I have not finished this game and do not intend to. It is just too frustrating a prospect since I was already banging my head against a wall before even making it past the first puzzle. I did eventually solve it when I realized it was timed and I'd seen what to avoid, but it was a lot of trial and error. I do not consider that a worthy expenditure of effort or time. Every step forward presented a new problem for which I couldn't think of a ready solution without experimentation, and continuing in that vein to reach an end that might not be worth it is just not my idea of fun.
I don't like writing negative reviews. I wanted to enjoy this more. But the genre, choppy parsing and puzzles that I did not find intuitive combined to finally have me giving up on the game.
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