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18th Place - 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2008)
The protagonist is going to join the magic Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom in order to find his beloved. However, he has to stand three tests first...
The opening puzzles are OK, but after I beat them, it felt as if the epilogue had been slapped on the prologue. Which is strange, since Anssi Raisanen is no novice in IF.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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"Minimalism," as defined in today's edition of Wikipedia, is a style of design that attempts to "expose the essence or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts" or "in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect."
This is the word that kept coming to mind as I played this short piece, which does a fair job of stripping away the non-essentials of a pure puzzler. The player character's backstory and motivation are treated thinly but both efficiently and sufficiently, encouraging just enough thought to allow the player to start ignoring them. This is a good trick, and it is done competently here.
However, once the three challenges are overcome, the pacing falters in that the game does not end as rapidly as it should(Spoiler - click to show) -- a problem exacerbated by a small guess-the-syntax issue with the final command. I think the author was trying to provide a greater emotional impact to the resolution of the story's framing tension, but since that tension had been built up so little, the attempt to embellish it is unnecessary and quickly begins to appear melodramatic.
My original title for this review was "Minimalism and romance don't mix," but, on reflection, I don't think that's true. Cutting away some of the extra elements(Spoiler - click to show) (e.g. the extra location to travel to, the additional actions required to trigger the end, flying off on the back of an unexplained magic tiger) might have made for a stronger and more romantic conclusion.
I'm a fan of Anssi Raisanen's games, and this one in particular was interesting, but it lacked a few key features that other games from this author have.
It had one particularly clever puzzle involving an extra image included with the game, one maddening guess-the-verb puzzle, and one short and sweet puzzle. Overall, it was shorter than most Raisanen games, and with somewhat less good implementation.
But if you're playing through the author's whole collection, I wouldn't skip out.
Puzzles are not so impressive yet i appreciate the whole team. I liked it.Keep it up!