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About the StoryYour good axe has gone missing. Reverd Pearson would say you're a careless lunkhead who'd lose his ear if it wasn't nailed on. You figure he's right, a man of the cloth, but that doesn't mean piskeys didn't steal the thing...
15th Place - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)
Winner, Best Individual Puzzle - 2011 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 5
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All this only made the experience more disappointing, since the game as a whole is over before you know it, and the initial character even sooner.
Unfortunately, the game manages to squeeze some problems in before the end. One thing in particular confused me before the halfway point: Belief in the supernatural is fine, if it comes from a tradition of some kind. But if I watch a movie, say, and then develop a belief that those specific characters are waiting somewhere to interact with me -- to me that's not superstition, that's madness. Again, meaningful distinction? I think it is, and it's one that muddies the game's message, such as it is.
The other main objections I had were to what I saw as questionable design choices, which, to be fair, an experimental work like this risks freely. First, I noticed that the game seemed to be taking a page from Photopia's Red chapter when constructing the map. In other words, you'll find new locations in a predetermined sequence, no matter which path you take. OK, fair enough. But if the game is going to do this (and we're on, you know, terra firma and not Dimension X), the game should learn from its own protagonist and leave stuff where you put it. I don't want to loop through the same sequence of rooms in random directions. I did not notice myself feeling lost, but I did notice myself feeling annoyed.
Finally, the transition. Bing! You'll know it when you see it. Since I had already read the instructions for this section in the last section, all I had to do was follow them, without knowing why they were necessary in the new context. For this reason, and since this new guy wasn't half as interesting as the old one, I rushed through and missed most of the impact of the latter half (which, again, is over almost before it begins).
Cold Iron certainly does one thing well, though -- it employs the Zarfian mystique that I'm apparently such a sucker for. The fact that it can do so in such a small space is interesting in itself. This experiment will make you think, even if it ultimately leaves you scratching your head.
At the outset, it looks like a plain old-style text-adventure - despite the polished prose and implementation. It features a farmer going on an adventure after his lost axe. It's pretty straightforward and polite, the narrative voice of the protagonist giving hints of what to do next. Some actions may look like puzzles, but they don't demand much and I don't quite consider them as such. Compass directions in the game are pretty pointless except at one point.
See, our farmer is a bit of a superstitious guy given to bouts of imaginative speculation and often draws parallels between his deeds as he goes and past stories he's read on an old book of folk tales handed down to him by the Reverend Pearson. As his quest reaches the end when he finds an old axe-head, a subtle change of perspective takes place. Here the story shifts and meets its self-fulfilling ouroboros status that left some head-scratching. I enjoyed it.
As far as I can tell (Spoiler - click to show)the PC has always been the old reverend, wandering through the woods like a lost Dante, living his reveries as he pictures the simpler days of the past beforing commiting them to his tales book...
Cold Iron is Plotkin's contribution, and he has said that he rushed to get the smallest Plotkin game possible. It's charming; you are a bumpkin searching for an axe. By recalling stories, you progress through the game.
I felt like this game contained more of the hat puzzle than the other 3 games. Also, I didn't really understand what happened in the plot.
Playing all 4 games together is great. Doctor M is more independent and large, a real good game by itself. The other 3 are great en ensemble.
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