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Reviews by Victor Gijsbers

random death

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The Reliques of Tolti-Aph, by Graham Nelson

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
Charming Unfairness, January 2, 2008
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Related reviews: dungeon crawl, random death, unfair
The Reliques of Tolti-Aph has been given very negative reviews. Reviewers almost invariably tell us that it is a game with unfair puzzles, too much random death and even--gasp--a huge maze; and therefore, frustrating and not fun. Although I would hesitate to call The Reliques of Tolti-Aph a good game, I believe it is charming and fun, but to enjoy it, you need to be in the right mindset.

What mindset is that? The same mindset which you need to appreciate the first edition Dungeon & Dragons scenario's. These scenario's are often insanely difficult and grossly unfair, so your character is almost certain to die. But, hey, rolling up a new character is a matter of 60 seconds, and with your new-found knowledge that behind the second door on the left is a monster that deals 8d10 damage as soon as you enter its domain, you might actually have a chance of finding the fabled gem! And who knows, perhaps you'll manage find out what that magical staff does without losing more than 4 ability points?

This game is unfair. You will die random deaths. So sit back and relax: rolling a new character (so to speak) is not just allowed, it is expected. Enjoy the ride! You will not survive your first play-through of The Reliques of Tolti-Aph. You will not survive the second or the third or even the tenth. But getting further each time is fun; the puzzles actually have solutions (and you can always peek behind the GMs screen, that is, consult a walkthrough); the locations are well-thought out and well-described; and the maze is very cool indeed.

The only places where I feel the GM (that is, Graham Nelson) went beyond the bounds of fair play is with the stone you absentmindedly picked up and the two spells you learn from the gods. Those should have been described in a more explicit manner. The GM shouldn't write on my character sheet when I'm not looking!


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