Limerick Quest

by Pace Smith profile


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
In 2019, IFComp / Had one game that promised this romp *, September 1, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2021

The third Pace Smith game to entail
All limericks: pass, or a fail?
Though Limerick Heist
Quite greatly enticed
Such rhyming can quickly go stale.

Rejoice! There is no need for bile.
On playing there is no denial
The meter is sharp
And no one could carp
About lack of humor or style.

Two characters drawn from part one
Seek further enrichment and fun
So Russia's the place
Where they soon embrace
A dangerous underground run

Some bits in fact you may find neater.
So practical, too, for the reader:
The list of stuff carried
Throughout is quite varied
But it always goes with the meter.

There's puzzles where you will be spurred
To fill in the right-sounding word.
At first they seem clear
But later oh dear
they're tricky, but never absurd.

The best one to mess with your head:
A tomb, with a hundred count thread
Which number to pick?
The reasoning's slick.
You'll need to yoink three from the dead.

Your treasure, alas, can get crushed.
Choose wrong nearby, your fortune's flushed.
Each way your escape
Is a narrow scrape:
Timed finish-the-poem, not too rushed.

If this leaves you feeling disturbed
"A choice game left me guess-the-verbed"
Some letters get filled
While precious time's killed
And thus extreme tension is curbed.

To recap the things I just said, it's
Quite clearly in no need of edits.
The meta-text, too
Will make you go "ooh:"
Slick endings list, options and credits.

* the title box bars
stuff past 80 chars.
I feel so repressed now, womp womp.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Careful what you wish for, December 9, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

Like everyone who played last year’s Limerick Heist, when I saw there was a sequel in this year’s Comp I was chomping at the bit to play it – and therefore wasn’t best pleased when the randomizer decided to save it for sixth-to-last out of 104. I wound up getting to it on Halloween, which is perhaps fitting, because in addition to the predictable linguistic legerdemain and some surprisingly robust puzzling, Limerick Quest also offered me an object lesson in being careful what I wished for, albeit a much more cheerful one than in the seasonally-appropriate monkey’s-paw model.

To my mind the thing that was brilliant about Limerick Heist wasn’t so much the concept – although it was amazing – but rather the execution. When I read the blurb, I thought to myself “this sounds super fun, but stretched out to game length inevitably like 30% of the limericks are going to suck.” But then, miraculously, they didn’t, with not a single dud in the bunch! I don’t mean to damn with faint praise in the slightest; a prudent person contemplating the challenges of writing narrative with a demanding rhyme and meter scheme would give up before they got out of the starting gate because of the inevitable clash between fitting the framework and allowing the reader to understand what’s happening.

Limerick Quest, though, does this one or two better, both by keeping the quality of the limericks absurdly high, but also by frankly just showing off. Not only are the accessibility options limericks – and inevitably, good ones – so is the complex, dynamically-updated inventory! Unlike the more traditional choice-based approach of Heist, here you can navigate around a map, with the movement options predictably also limericked, and again, not just with a single rote one listing north south east etc. but with a unique one in each area listing available and unavailable exits and what you can expect in each direction. Possibly best of all, there was one early limerick that I thought was a bid fudged (it rhymes “door” with “square”) except then I dusted off that one semester of Russian I took in college and realized it works perfectly if you can read Cyrillic characters.

I don’t to risk this review devolving into just a list of all the poems I thought were great – and it’s not just gags, I thought the relationship and banter between the two adventurers was also really well-depicted – but I can’t go without citing two, just to show how the author uses different approaches to the limericks to keep things fresh. Here’s an example of using baroque vocabulary to make the limerick work and the joke land:

You insert the egg in its station.
The clockwork maintains its rotation
as part of the Earth,
for what it is worth,
in orbital circumgyration.

But sometimes, all you really need is to rhyme “it” with “it” three times and it’s just as effective (though yes, the known/honed/prone bit provides some additional rhyming ballast):

Sacrifice. Aztecs were known for it.
This altar was carefully honed for it.
By what weird criteria
is this near Siberia?
You don’t know - just don’t end up prone for it.

As that first excerpt suggests, to go with the free navigation, this time there are also inventory puzzles – I realize I haven’t mentioned the setup, which is that following on from Heist, the Faberge egg you stole leads two of the crew on an adventure to a hidden temple in search of treasure. Some of these are traditional red-key-goes-in-red-door type inventory puzzles, but very quickly, they invite the player to participate in the fun of making a limerick, as you’ll need to do things like choose an option that fits the rhyme scheme or meter of the limerick representing the outcome you’re trying to achieve. I don’t want to give these away, since they’re really decidedly clever, but I will include my favorite in a spoiler block: (Spoiler - click to show) the mine cart puzzle, with the words you need to rhyme slowly fading in, was a blast, though I did have the accessibility option that means you can’t lose turned on.

Here’s where the monkey’s-paw bit comes in, though: I think there were one or two gentle puzzles like this in Limerick Heist, and I remember wanting more and thinking there was a lot more fun to be had exploring variations on this kind of challenge. The author has more than delivered on the brief, but now that I’ve got what I wanted I think I was wrong? The puzzles are all nicely constructed – they build on each other so you’re always doing something new, there are neither too many or too few so the pacing is good, with the hardest, fiddliest one coming right before an easier lightning round and then you win, and there’s an easily-accessible, well-integrated hint system to keep you moving.

But for all that, I found several of them quite hard, and while the game is generous in not letting you die, there are some puzzles you only get one try for (there’s no save game option) and wasn’t sure why I failed until I replayed and accessed the hints. Eventually it all makes sense, but the later puzzles do require you to spend a lot of time assessing rhymes and counting syllables and word length, which I think felt a bit too much like constructing a limerick and not enough like reading one – it was harder to appreciate the end result when I’d spent so much time at the brick-and-mortar level, and I often found myself clicking from room to room and grabbing different objects to try as I worked to get myself unstuck, without paying much attention to the delightful writing, which felt like a real shame.

Again, I’m not sure any of the puzzles are too hard or inadequately clued or anything. And there’s an amazing number of options and lots of hidden depth on offer here (there’s a whole achievement system you can use to help find some fun unexpected interactions and easter eggs, though I didn’t get very far with it). It’s just that Limerick Quest made me realize that maybe what I actually want out of this franchise is a worry-free romp rather than than well-designed adventuring. With the ending teasing a possible third, pirate-themed outing, though, I’m definitely on board for any voyages to come!

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Amazing commitment to the limerick, fun puzzles, October 17, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 1-2 hours

First off, kudos to Nomad for writing his review as a limerick. I wrote a quick tweet in limerick form about this game during IFComp 2020 and that drained all the poetry I had in me for quite some time.

So this game is written entirely in limericks, and I mean entirely. The options menu, the credits screen, your inventory, all of it. And while that is cool by itself, the game would still fall a little flat if writing the limericks took all of the author's efforts and the story/gameplay itself was shallow. But that is not the case in this game. The story isn't particularly deep, but it is about the level of story you would expect in a short, parser/puzzle game of this length. However, the puzzles themselves are very interesting and easily on par with parser games of similar scope. And what really makes this game great is that, once again, the limericks aren't just a gimmick but are actively worked into the puzzles in very clever ways. Think of this game as the limerick equivalent of Counterfeit Monkey. Saying too much more would spoil it and I want you to discover the treasures this game has to offer on your own.

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Awesome, October 4, 2020


First glance: Artsy experiment
But then does the fun increment
It's a game of adventurous exploring
Scattered puzzles make sure it's not boring
For a Twine game it's really excellent

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
All Limericks, with several clever wordplay puzzle. , October 4, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

So the original Limerick Heist was something that had never really been seen in IFComp: a game consisting entirely of a constrained poetical form (in this case, a ton of limericks) while still telling a coherent story with items and actions.

It did very well, and defied usual voting patterns (by being one of the shortest Choice games to place in the top 10). It also picked up some well-deserved XYZZY nominations.

I wondered what this game would be like, and its receptions. Did people vote highly for the novelty only? Would a second game that has the same tricks as the first do as well?

Unfortunately, we won't find out because Limerick Quest manages to be just as novel and ingenious as the first game, improving substantially on the original formula.

In this game, you encounter several puzzles involving completing Limericks under various constraints. Your partner (her text in purple, yours in green) gives out generous hints on request. The constraints vary quite a bit, and include timed puzzles near the end (with very short times, so watch out if you use text-to-speech!)

The puzzles were really ingenious. I could see this picking up a 'best puzzles' nomination for next year. I was shocked to see this game get so much mileage out of, for instance, 100 identical objects labelled by number only.

So, I had fun. The visuals were great, with animated text, expressive use of color (especially with voices in unison) and background color changes.

+Polished: Very much so.
+Descriptive: The limericks are carrying all the weight here, and they do well.
+Interactivity: The puzzles were honestly very clever and enjoyable.
+Would I play again? Definitely.
+Emotional Impact: Fun and excitement.

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