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14th Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)
A pleasant and reasonably easy jaunt through the countryside of a sort of Edwardian fantasy world at a time when there's no great treasure to unearth or evil wizard to defeat. You're a landed gentleman in pursuit of seven escaped horses, each named for a significant quality of character (Courage, Defiance, etc.) I was impressed with how good-natured it all is: all the NPC's are friendly and eager to help, pretty much all the areas are described as pleasant, picturesque, or elegant (to the point where this constitutes a weakness in the prose), and everything the player does exhibits goodwill and strength of character.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Every aspect of The Chasing has its good points, and all of it is competent, if undistinguished. You aren't likely to remember it long after you've finished, but it does make for an agreeable afternoon's diversion.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Much of IF begins with a problem, and we happen to be the lucky schmo charged with solving it; perhaps that's why much of IF tends to be frustrating, obtuse, or just plain negative in tone. This then is what sets apart "The Chasing". It's a very positive and neighborly work, as if "Ultima: Quest of the Avatar" were set in your local neighborhood, sans monsters and pointy objects. Your white horses escaped your stables last night, and you must wander around the valley looking for them, quizzing your neighbors on their whereabouts. In doing so, you discover your neighbors have little problems of their own, such as treed kites and runaway lawnmowers. But shortly after helping someone out, you discover you are starring in an allegory.
But golly gee Wally, it sure is a pleasant little allegory to be in.
"The Chasing" avoids the preachy tone that virtue-chasing games often have, and still keeps its gameplay varied enough to avoid boredom. NPCs tend to be one-trick ponies, but there's always a friendly one nearby, partly mitigating the loneliness that usually dogs IF. And while the pleasantness of the work sometimes runs pretty close to self-parody, there's something to be said here for balance in the body of IF works; perhaps the work purposefully overcompensates.
There's nothing here that will challenge puzzle-goers, but their children -- and IF beginners -- will only require a list of verbs common to all IF in order to chase down all those slippery, adventurous virtu-- er, horses.
Räisänen definitely has their own style of puzzle, in this and other games.
In this game, you are a nobleman who has lost seven horses, and who has been asked to find them, as well as delivering invitations.
The puzzle design rests on light puzzles mostly focusing on examining, waiting, and movement, similar to Arthur DiBianca's later games.
The Chasing is remarkably low-key for a game with such a title--there's no way to lose the chase! And it's unusual without being weird. Sure, it has a few anachronisms, and a few of the horses you track down have odd names (Unhesitancy--it seems like an awkward English translation) but it finds a niche. It's well above a simple first work but shunned by people who want to make complex things. Not that either of those choices should be looked down on. But sometimes we jump from the first to "let's make something complex" and leave holes to be filled in.
The Chasing fills one of those holes in for me. It's a very welcoming game, like Anssi's others, both in the setting (you track down your horses who have run all over the valley, and you also visit fellow adventurers to give them invitations to a party) and in the non-crushing level of difficulty. The horses are all hidden, and you-the-player don't know their names. They're only revealed when you find them (the horses are all hidden--perhaps to avoid implementing them,) and they're named after various virtues you exhibit to remove the obstacle that was scaring them, or you, from doing what you want. Patience is found after waiting several turns in the right place. Courage is found after visiting a potentially high-risk area. And so forth.
It's a tough one for me whether the player should know their names beforehand--I kind of enjoyed the reveal, but on the other hand, it would be nice to have a general impression of which horses are still out there, and the horse names don't spoil anything. Perhaps an option to reveal this would be nice, although the puzzles aren't exactly crushing or unfair in any case. Sometimes people directly ask for help, and other times, it's a matter of noting what's in the description. Another puzzle rejects the right verb, saying, not now.
I think there's an art to gaining people's attention without holding it hostage, in conversation or in gaming, and Anssi Räisänen's games always do that. We only have so much attention to hand out each day. It may be a weakness that you sort of have to take a relatively simple backstory at its face value (your horses somehow all fled at once) or NPCs often seem to be there more in support of a puzzle, only to chat a bit and leave once you solve it. This works well in the context of removing red herrings, and I'm a lot more okay with that than most people, but I can see how others might want the feel of sociability. For me it's good to have social stuff and text adventures in separate chambers.
I'm also struck by how there are relatively little good didactic text adventures. Of course, there is Trinity, which discusses morals and a world-shaking event, and A Mind Forever Voyaging, which discusses ethics on a macro scale. But there is so much to fill in, games that might not catch fire or have a mass audience or crush you with their impressiveness or profundity, but you feel better for having gone through them. I did so more than once with The Chasing, which I found on a "favorite ALAN games" list and quickly said, yes, it belonged there.
| The Usher Foundation I: The Dark, by Apollosboy|
Average member rating: (5 ratings)
A fan game for Rusty Quill's The Magnus Archives podcast. Life is tough when you're a six-year-old who's afraid of the dark. And it definitely doesn't help that your night light is broken.
|Turandot, by Victor Gijsbers|
Average member rating: (43 ratings)
An operatic performance. A tale of atonement. A dating sim with a crocodile pit. Content warnings: sex; sexism and other gender issues; suicide; torture; homophobia; xenophobia.
|The Myothian Falcon, by Andy Joel|
Average member rating: (10 ratings)
"That day, the 9th of June, 3145, started out like any other, perhaps a little hotter than usual. Then Maisy DeValle entered his office." Vic Gantry, P.I., has a new client. She is wanted for the murder of her rich husband, Lawrence.
Not Too Long, Not Too Difficult by Eric Mayer
Being impatient and puzzle-challenged, I prefer rather short games that I can make it through without resorting to hints every other turn. The following leap to mind, in no particular order.
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These are some of my favorite games written in the ALAN IF-development language. With a lower learning curve and a more natural-language programming environment, ALAN v2 definitely filled an important role in IF before the advent of...