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About the Story
A TRS-80 Text Adventure with RPG elements
Hawkstone: A retro TRS-80 adventure with extras for modern day adventurers.
Combining old school text adventures with RPG elements, opening up a deeper world of discovery options and choices for the player. Hawkstone has traditional puzzles to solve with new twists, comedy, and an underlying fantasy story with secrets to discover.
74th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This one was a bit of a wild ride.
Itís a long game written for windows. At first I wondered if it was another secret BJ Best game (in the past heís entered a retro game under a fake name). After all, it has a cool animated loading screen and a neat pixel art inventory picture.
But the author has introduced himself elsewhere and it seems to be just a neat-looking original game by a new author.
So, this game is a mix of combat RPG and Scott Adams-style gameplay. The Scott Adams style is a fun one, but it had two features that I wasnít used to: the location description is always at the top of the screen (unless you swap to inventory view), and if steps or a door are in the location you type GO STEPS or GO DOOR instead of any specific direction. These tripped me up a bit; especially not needing to LOOK, since LOOK gives a pretty unusual response in this game.
The idea is that a ferry you were on crashed and you need to explore. There is some combat, but most of it is with small and/or goofy things. Beyond that, you have to find a way to enter the city of Hawkstone and discover the secrets beneath it.
I played around without the walkthrough for a while, but had to peek at it to find the right command for dealing with the gate early on. After that, I found a lot more interesting things, and found a way to die.
After a while, I started getting pretty confused. Sometimes itís hard to tell whatís going on, due to procedurally generated text. For instance, one action resulted in this (blocking out some names for spoilers, [REDACTED] is by me):
You attempt to unlock the [REDACTED] with the [REDACTED].
object is unlockable. You have a key.
You unlock the [REDACTED] with the [REDACTED]
You roll the dice on your stats and get.. +1 stamina.
Your Stats have increased!
You did a thing!
Something happened somewhere.
You are knocked over as a monkee jumps at you.
The monkee screeches as he runs away through the crevice..
You did a thing!
You did something!
Something happened somewhere.
After events like this, objects will be added to your inventory or appear in the room description.
The puzzles were fairly difficult, so I ended up using the walkthrough for a while. Even with the walkthrough, I took about two hours.
There are lots of compelling and interesting elements in the game, like a world you can substantially affect in various ways. There are a lot of silly and goofy things in the game, like buying things on the Ďnetí. Iím not sure thereís a major resolution to the game; I followed the walkthrough and it seems to just peter out near the end, with there being some nice resolution to some plot points, but I think the game is intended to either have an open, exploration ending (or thereís more that isnít in the walkthrough).
A lot of items have a generic description; looking at a woman hanging upside down by a rope says ĎThat looks like a normal woman hanging upside down by a ropeí. A lot of puzzles get repeated over and over (Iím looking at the bananas here). And, finally, there are several commands in the walkthrough that arenít really described elsewhere in the game (like Q for Quests).
The overall user interface is great. The animations at the beginning are really neat, and the layout looks nice overall. I also liked the saga of the monkee character the most.
Hawkstone is a retro-type parser adventure, using old-school RPG elements to drive the puzzles, and a Scott Adam-style of gameplay (not all locations are listed in the directions and puzzles can be obtuse). The game includes a walkthrough listing the required commands and order of actions*, and a built-in help system (pay in-game currency to get it).
*I messed up wanting to go my own way and skipped some steps
To say this was not the kind of game I am good at is an understatement. It combines a confusing worldmap (with weird locations) and difficult to almost impossible puzzles (hit the wrong butterfly and meet an early end). I did try to give it my best shot, but after finding myself stuck, I exclusively followed the walkthrough - save for not wanting to drop loot (but that's me playing RPG).
So Hawkstone is essentially an RPG exploration game. You get items, break some stuff, give stuff to people, maybe sell some items maybe buy some, attack harmless butterfly, and go round and round you go around the map. Do some actions and maybe level up and your skills, or get a random dice roll for extra stats. If you finish enough puzzles, you get to the end (I didn't).
There's not much direction given to you (aside from the start text telling you in case of stuck, look at stuff) and you have to rely on guess work (or just be like me and follow the walkthrough) and thinking of silly ways to solve things. The combat system is pretty fun (though it would be nice if there had been more opportunities to use it), and the game as a swanky stat/inventory system. There is quite a bit of humour in the text, especially in the reaction of actions, and if you manage to run the game without any glitches, it's pretty cool looking too!
But darn, you need to be a level 9999 experienced parser to do this adventure on your own... even a sword is not enough.