The Magic Isle

by Palmer P. Eldritch


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A game from the era of frustrating parsers, July 27, 2012
by Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA)

This game is a sequel to Legacy of Alaric (by the same author), in which your mission is to save a boy named 'Alaric' who has been captured by dwarves and imprisoned in a castle. Unlike Legacy of Alaric, it is not possible to finish this game without solving all the puzzles. Like many of these older games, there are many places where you can die suddenly and without warning and it is possible to put the game into an unwinnable state without warning.

Most of the puzzles aren't too bad, but a few are downright weird and poorly clued, and one absolutely requires reading the author's mind. (Spoiler - click to show)You have to 'say law' on the bank of the moat in order to open a trap door. Apparently this is somehow clued by the sign. Unfortunately, even the simpler puzzles often seem more complex because of parser troubles. For example, "Tie Rope to X" yields a different result than "Tie X to Rope", and both forms of the command must be used to successfully manipulate the rope. Likewise, if you attempt to use an object that is in your sack, you will always get a failure message such as "you cannot do that", which can lead you to believe that a solution doesn't work when, in fact, you simply have to take the object from your sack and attempt the action again.

My original intent was to play the puzzle through without a walkthrough. However, once I reached a puzzle that I was sure I was solving correctly, I finally gave up and consulted the walkthrough. Sure enough, I was correct but the solution had to be attempted three times in order to work. I valiantly re-stashed the walkthrough and attempted to continue, only to be stymied by a locked door that would not let me "unlock door with key". I consulted the walkthough again, which seemed to confirm that I needed to do exactly what I had attempted to do. Just as I was about to wrote the game off as a case of flawed programming, serendipity struck and the command I had been attempting finally worked. After a bit of experimentation, I discovered that one must attempt to "open door" before being able to successfully "unlock door with key". Grrrr. I perused the rest of the walkthrough, determined that the game was not going to be playable without it, and gave up saving poor Alaric.

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