Hawkstone

by Handsome McStranger

2023

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Number of Reviews: 4
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An old-school RPG with combat and some neat UI, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

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.
Argh!
A kerfuffle!
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.

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