Finn's Big Adventure

by Larry Horsfield profile

Episode 3 of Adventures in the World of Alaric Blackmoon

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A sprawling ADRIFT adventure about a 6 yr old boy exploring strange lands, July 1, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

I've played several Larry Horsfield games, and I generally have the impression that they'll be extremely long ADRIFT games that require you to look in every nook and cranny and often put you in 'dead man walking' scenarios because you forgot something 400 moves ago.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could solve the game. I started in a magician's room, and I tried looking behind an armchair, looking under a stool, etc. But there was nothing there, so I explored more and found some more reasonable puzzles: a light puzzle, grabbing a book, etc. Then I went to another area, grabbed a lot of stuff; the game even warned me that I hadn't grabbed everything! I explored a dungeon, and got really very far.

I thought to myself, 'Man, this game is awesome. It's a lot smaller than other Larry Horsfield games, and seems more focused on clever puzzles instead of hiding random stuff.'

At one point, the game said I needed a tinderbox, which I hadn't grabbed, so I peeked at the walkthrough, and found out that I had missed it at the beginning. Apparently instead of looking under the stool or the armchair I needed to stand on the stool and it would reveal some stuff to me.

Fortunately the earlier areas were still accessible so I went back to go grab it.

But then I ended up solving what I thought was the final area of the game. It actually ended up sending me to a nexus of areas. The SCORE command revealed that I only had 90 out of 500 points. And the door locked behind me. I thought, 'well, I'll still try on my own'. But getting in a boat told me I should be wearing my war belt. With the door shut, there was no way to get back. So I loaded an earlier save. Unfortunately, there was a bug where going back to get the warbelt meant I couldn't leave for some reason.

I restarted completely, deciding to just blindly follow the walkthrough. But it's missing a command early on and I ended up with a bug situation where there were two 'thin books' in the same room that I couldn't disambiguate between.

So I restarted again, fixed that problem, and just rode the walkthrough the rest of the time. I found out there was tons of stuff I had missed earlier because I hadn't looked under a desk or behind a door, etc.

There were fun things to see on the way, like various foods and desserts. There was also some depictions of East Asian culture that were a bit suspect. There were some words I didn't recognize which wikipedia said are considered offensive (like a name for a kind of Chinese hat). The people are a blend of Asian motifs and generic europeans (they speak the same language as the protagonist and are offended by burping, which isn't very common in east asian cultures). At one point they're singing a sing with the lyrics 'ying tong ting tong' or something, which seemed wildly inappropriate to me, but apparently it's an old song by a group called the goons which has nothing to do with Asian culture. But then why is it featured in this area? Kind of weird.

Overall, if this game had been just the first area up to the dungeon, I might have given it 5 stars; I like the puzzle direction and the writing. But after that point it just becomes so easy to get into 'walking dead' situations.

I'd usually say beta testing could help with these kind of things, but Larry Horsfield has been writing games for fourty years and has been requesting testers recently, which haven't been found. I think the issue is that the core game design itself makes testing difficult; there are so many places to check, so many places to look, so many possible combinations of items. The game is huge but it also includes mechanics designed to make short games longer, like forcing replaying due to missing items or having tightly controlled sequences that are easy to fail. These combined, it makes playing the game without a walkthrough take days or weeks, including for testers. And the games are produced at such a rate (there were three entered in this same Parser Comp competition, although one was withdrawn) that there's wouldn't be enough time to test one thoroughly before the next came out.

The author is aware of these issues; on, there are posts going back to 2014 discussing how this author has trouble getting beta testers and why.

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Denk, July 2, 2023 - Reply
Quite a shame that the author had to withdraw a game because it was much shorter than his normal games and puzzles could be solved in any order without bringing objects from one area to another. It would probably have a broader appeal.
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