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About the Story
Well, isn't this a lark! After solid years of going after old Alky to let you in on that Mysteries wheeze of his, at last tonight's the night. He's dragged you from Athens to Eleusis for the to-do, but no sooner had you clapped eyes on the wine and canapés than he informed you of a spot of work in need of doing. You've heard of work, you're sure you'll be good at it!
Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2020 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 7
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The "Eleusinian Miseries" follows a vacuous, self-absorbed player-character as he is introduced into an ancient Greek mystery cult. Amusingly, the cult resembles American universities' fraternities, and their mild hazing rituals and toga parties, except its members speak with British idioms and have names like Alky and Puffy.
While "Miseries" characters are well-acquainted with ancient Greek clothing, foods, vases, and architecture, they are also flippantly vague on other Greek folkways. The PC's unrequited adoration of his friend, his ineptitude at practical tasks, and his surprising aptitude at accidentally emasculating statues of Hermes appears to be a joke about the virility of either the ancient Greeks, American fraternity brothers, or British trust-fund kids. Regardless of the way you read it, it's pretty funny.
The game is structured by five distinct scenes. The first scene is a well-designed and implemented set of find and fetch tasks. The second scene is a little under-clued and linear, with a brute-force puzzle (Spoiler - click to show)(you'll need to try a lot of clothing combinations until you find out what amuses your cult-mates) and a guess-the-verb puzzle (Spoiler - click to show)(if you want to splash or spatter something on yourself, try "wash" instead). The third scene is more open and involves some lateral-thinking repair puzzles. The fourth scene has little interaction, but carries some thematic weight for the game. And the final scene is a clever optimization puzzle which points to several alternate game endings.
"Eleusinian Miseries" is a funny, engaging, well-structured game, with only a few implementation problems.
"The Eleusinian Miseries" is a puzzle-filled parser-based game set during the annual Eleusinian Mysteries, the initiation rites into the cult of Demeter and Persephone. Most of that last sentence I had to google to make sure I was getting it right, I know very little about Ancient Greek cultural history, and if you are like me then don't let that deter you. Just think of it all as taking place during your final initiation into a fraternity that is very dedicated to authenticity. You play one of the current pledges with only a few tasks left to complete before you can be fully accepted into the group.
The game is a series of puzzles incorporated into a small map played out over several acts. If you aren't familiar with Greek terminology then keep a dictionary handy to look up some words. The game does a pretty good job of kind of cluing you in on what some objects are in modern English, but I still had to look up several and knowing the function of many of the objects is key to solving some of the puzzles. For the most part the puzzles are fun and fair. With a limited number of locations and objects you can usually brute force your way to a lot of the solutions. Most of them just needed a bit of common sense applied, and the parser seemed pretty forgiving with phrasing. That said, there were a few puzzles that I had to look at the walkthrough to get past. After seeing some of the solutions I'm glad I didn't wait longer as I don't think I would have ever figured it out. On a couple of the puzzles though, the way I solved it is not the way listed in the walkthrough, so I think many of the puzzles have multiple solutions.
While many of the puzzles were very enjoyable, it is really the humor that makes this game great. Don't forgot to stop and read the prose in between completing tasks as there are more than just funny lines, but hilarious whole scenes. It is unusual to me to see humor mixed into a parser game this well and at this level. My compliments to the author.
Well, my personal shuffle lined up for me three pretty hefty games that I beta tested all in a row. But fortunately they’re all fun to play.
This is a big game, longer than 2 hours for me (I only replayed the first 2 ‘acts’ for this review). It’s basically the ancient rituals of the Eleusinian Mysteries (as far as we’ve recreated them) retold in the style of P.G. Wodehouse.
The game is split up into 4 or 5 acts. Each is large enough to be an IFComp game in its own right, especially the first act (which involves searching for items in an expansive map) and the last act (which is a madcap action scene set in a single room and involving a form of optimization).
The game provides a ton of jokes and just text in general, with full-screen text printouts being a regular occurrence. Overall, it’s a masterpiece in terms of total content and polish.
Structure-wise, I found the open-world segments more effective than the narrowly constrained 2nd act. Quite a few of the puzzles were more difficult than I could handle, as well, with my typical loose and easy playstyle. For the thoughtful and methodical player that examines every item, carefully checks exits and works through every takable object, this game will exciting and rewarding. For everyone else, like me, the hints are quite good and let you see the witty writing more easily.
+Polish: For a game this large and complex, it is very polished.
+Descriptiveness: The witty writing is a plus.
-Interacivity: For me, the puzzles were too hard to figure out easily.
+Emotional impact: This game is funny, for sure.
+Would I play again? After the comp is over, I'd like to revisit this.
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Individual Puzzle of 2020 by Sobol
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