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Foxy... *Jimi Hendrix distortion solo* ...Familiar, October 8, 2021
A band of raiders kidnapped your human! As his familiar, you are bound to rescue him. Find your way into the enemy base to do so.
Finding Light's premise is simple and straightforward, as indeed the game as a whole is. This makes sure that the player can enjoy the forward momentum and the quick succession of discoveries instead of banging her head against a puzzle-wall.
The obstacles are all pretty standard text-adventure fare. Lock&key, color-code, maze, fetch&trade... The twist here that you, as a familiar (a magic human's spirit guide) can CHANGE between animal and human form. This gives an entirely new dimension to exploring the surroundings, searching for clues and solving the puzzles.
To succesfully infiltrate the raiders' fort, you will need help. Quite a few animal NPCs are willing to offer that help, and while interacting with them you might learn something about their personalities. I found this the most satisfying part of the game. Through conversing with the animals, you learn bits and pieces of their backstories. This makes them much, much more than cardboard characters whose only role is to "give player object x if and only if player gives object y to NPC". I'm confident that a full IF-piece could be made about the backstory of each animal NPC (especially the horses.)
In contrast, one raider is a dumb brute. Another is a mute psychopath. (Hmm, the mute psychopath's backstory may have a horror-game buried in it somewhere...)
I liked the clean writing. The rooms were clearly described and easily imagined. Likewise, the map is simple and easily memorized, a bonus for people who don't like drawing maps.
In the IFComp version I played (v1), I found the implementation wanting in some places. To mention one instance: the verb TRADE might come in handy. Another example is given by Mathbrush in his review: many more synonyms for the solution to the first puzzle should be implemented. You really don't want to get players bashing their computers against the wall because they can't guess the syntax of your "easy and obvious" introductory puzzle.
The main mechanism in the game is a joy to explore. Switching between shapes brings new abilities to experience the game-world and interact with it. I'd like to see it expanded even more, perhaps applying the different senses to every concrete object instead of some objects and the rooms.
A very enjoyable classic text-adventure with a clever twist.