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A Change in the Weather

by Andrew Plotkin profile

Fantasy/Slice of life

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Number of Reviews: 7
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1-7 of 7

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A notoriously difficult short game with a real-life setting, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game was one of the two winners of the very first IF Comp. It is well known for being one of Plotkin's most difficult games, and one of the most difficult well-known games in general.

You play a loner who leaves a picnic/party to look around a secluded woodland area. Puzzles are hard due to:

1. Not knowing what your goal is;

2. Being able to put the game in an unwinnable state without knowing it;

3. Fast-paced timing.

Despite, or possibly because of the difficulty, this has remained a very popular game. Perhaps this is because the game has an inspirational feel. It is easy to identify with the protagonist, and the games understated writing gives you a sense of wonder.

The game was intended to be completed in 2 hours. You will certainly reach an ending within two hours.

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Frustrating, well worth playing anyway, February 3, 2014
by Brian Conn (Eureka, California)
For me the main obstacle was that certain puzzles require you to have a good idea of the 3-D topography of the game world. I'm not very good at constructing that kind of thing in my head, and the game, although decently clear, was not very good at helping me, and so there were several key actions that I never would have guessed without a walkthrough.

The parser is also limited, but that didn't really give me trouble.

What the game does do exceptionally well is build a sense of isolation and real dread out of what would seem to be an innocent scenario. The writing is excellent, not just in the sense of describing sunsets (though it does that too), but in that it maintains a subtle and seamless emotional tone throughout. Your friends are just across the river, but you nevertheless get the feeling that there is something serious at stake -- much more so than in most games where you are jumping off buildings and saving the world and so on.

My advice is to go in committed, spend some time, and try your best, but look at a walkthrough before you start to hate the thing. The solutions to the puzzles are satisfying but not worth banging your head against the wall for.

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
This game is nothing but a puzzle..., April 24, 2012
by Rymbeld (Greensboro, NC)
...which makes me reticent to call it "interactive fiction" at all. What I liked: the writing, the exploration, the fox. What I didn't like: the fact that it really is nothing but a puzzle, one whose logic doesn't necessarily conform to the real world. I like thinking about real-world experience to help me solve puzzles. Example: (Spoiler - click to show) the very first bit about getting the shovel. It doesn't make sense to me that you would need to soften the mud to pull it out...we're talking dirt, not stone. Also, the fox. If you break the shaft accidentally from pulling the shovel from the hard mud, then the fox won't play fetch. He will look at the shaft with interest, but not fetch it if you throw it. But when you break it from prying the boulder, suddenly he wants to play. I see how that makes sense in the logic of the game, but it reduces the real-world plausibility of the game, which I dislike. . I agree with the other reviewers when it comes to a lack of any sense of goal. The game starts off just feeling like an exploratory quest, but you are supposed to do something to win and have no idea what that is. This game rewards tedious screwing around.

To be fair, this thing is over 15 years old. I'm sure it was really cool for its time. It taught me, though, that I'm not a puzzle freak.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Leaves an impression, March 6, 2012
Excellent prose, vivid environment, and a cute npc. The puzzles are maybe a little to obscure. I wasn't always sure what I was supposed to be doing. I don't think I could have solved this without a walk through. None of that really matters though because the writing alone makes this worth a look.

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Well written prose, poorly designed, almost unplayable., August 22, 2011
by Neo
Related reviews: Change, Weather, Game Design
While the game features a winning non-human NPC and lovely descriptions of the scenery, the actual gameplay is awful. The goal of the game is unguessable, and many of the puzzles are time sensitive -- time-sensitive meaning four or five turns, sometimes -- so that you will find yourself dying and reloading, dying and reloading. I found the beginning of the game relatively do-able, finding items and using them. However, after a fair amount of game play, I discovered that in the first couple of turns I had done something which made the game unwinnable; I would never have known if I hadn't looked it up. I later used a found item on something to solve a problem, and it didn't work -- (Spoiler - click to show)I tried to move the boulder with the spade by placing it beneath the boulder and "moving boulder with spade", which did not work. The solution is to "pry boulder with spade". simply because I failed to use on specific word, even though I was clearly using language to perform the operation that was the solution to the puzzle. The game is simply too unforgiving and rather pointless. The ending makes no sense whatsoever, and the one relationship in the game -- with the NPC -- is developed and then, for no reason, completely abandoned without explanation.

For all that, the game is rather short, features some unexplained imagery which appears to be part of an undeveloped plot, has a tiny map, and features puzzles which can only be solved by persistent and random, pointless experimentation to such degree that the game appears hostile to its audience.

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Almost a Very Good Game, September 15, 2010
by Xervosh (San Jose, Northern California)
Much in this game is very good, but it has some really serious flaws that prevent me from rating it higher than three stars. Most obviously, the game is just too damn hard. I'm sure some people have solved it without any assistance, but those people must be veritable IF wizards. I got perhaps a third of the way through the game (Spoiler - click to show)(I managed to find the key, and take a nap in the Cave after I grew tired), but pretty much had to use a walk-thru for everything after that...and even with a walk-thru, I STILL found it somewhat difficult to solve! At no time is it even remotely apparent what the goal of the game is supposed to be, and thus to suggest that the later puzzles are under-clued is to be generous. You basically just have to do stuff that makes no sense, until it adds up to something that kinda does. But even then, the ending is very confusing. (Spoiler - click to show)Apparently, the goal was to save the bridge. And yet after accomplishing that goal, one gets the impression one's friends have located you, and are crossing the bridge...only to suddenly find one's self back in the Cave..WTF? And your friends are still there the next morning? I guess its a campsite?

The game is well-written in many respects, and the game contains a great (non-verbal) NPC, but the game just doesn't make enough sense to really live up to its potential. Its very difficult anyway, and that great difficulty is enhanced by a peculiarly vague and not very consequential goal (and a needlessly ambiguous ending). I really wanted to like this game, and part of me did, but overall, its tragically flawed. Yet its too close to the mark to warrant a rating below three.

8 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzle-fiends Only Need Apply, October 20, 2007
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)
Honestly, that's the only way to sum up this game. While it features well-written prose and probably the best use of weather in IF, the puzzles utterly destroy any enjoyment you can wrench from the game. Not only are they timed puzzles, but feedback is wholly missing. Result: you die over and over again until you finally throw your hands up and find something more humane. It's a shame that the prose is wedded to such monstrously unfair puzzles.

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