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letters.txt
Walkthrough
Walkthrough and maps
Verbose walkthrough and maps by David Welbourn.

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Letters from Home

by Roger Firth

Wordplay/Humor
2000

(based on 14 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

"Centuries of ancestry, decades of memories, years of decline; now, barely two hours in which to reflect on the glorious past, that bygone golden age when nostalgia really meant something... " [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Release 4
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 921
IFID: ZCODE-4-000925-A9B2
TUID: 7d5kjxqadyuyfgzu

Awards

12th Place - 6th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2000)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide


Half interactive fiction and half Games Magazine extract, Letters From Home is strewn with challenging wordplay puzzles, among them collecting all the letters of the alphabets (disguised in various forms) and solving cryptic crossword clues. Packed with subtle humor and IF references, so there's fun to be had even if cryptic crosswords aren't your thing. Some of the puzzles are a bit obscure, but on the whole everything works impressively well.

-- Duncan Stevens

>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page

Graham Nelson once described interactive fiction as "a narrative at war with a crossword." Letters From Home takes a definite side in this battle by being an interactive narrative where the main goal is to complete a crossword, and whose entire purpose is structured around puzzle-solving, the "crossword" part of the metaphor. The explicit connection with that metaphor is just one of the many pieces of Nelsoniana scattered throughout the game. From the introductory text, to the Jigsaw (grandfather clock and Titanic mementos) and Curses (sprawling mansion filled with relics of distinguished ancestors) references, to the somber traces of wartime, the whole thing comes across as a loving tribute to Graham. Being a Nelson admirer myself, I couldn't help but be impressed by the various clever nods to him peppered throughout this game.
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SynTax
This game can best be described as a puzzlefest.
-- Dorothy Millard
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(1)
4 star:
(6)
3 star:
(7)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 3
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Vexing, June 30, 2008
by perching path (near Philadelphia, PA, US)
While the game takes place in a serene country house being emptied by genial removal men, the player doesn't interact much with the plot or setting on a mimetic level. Rather, they wander about converting things into letters.
While the wordplay-saturated atmosphere was quite pleasant, it wasn't enough to keep me from resorting to a walkthrough after my first encounter with the time limit.
Completing the game without the hints would require multiple playthroughs, a certain amount of trial and error, and, most likely, a bit of research. When a description is curiously specific but the cultural or scientific reference escapes you, I wouldn't hesitate to resort to Google- some of the answers aren't to be found in-game.
I'm tempted to recommend this one for those who enjoy difficult cryptic crosswords, but the game lacks the structural fairness of that standardized form. The items and the letters into which you convert them do not have a consistent relationship.

A somewhat confusing wordplay game finding hidden letters, February 8, 2016
I've rarely been as confused playing a game as I was starting this one. You wander through a house, gathering traditional adventure items (a light source, a key, etc.), but also hidden letters of the alphabet. When you find eachone, you read a letter from around WWII that has no real plot or connection to other letters. I felt frustrated.

Eventually, I began to understood. Each letter is hidden in a weird way. For instance, you might find a railroad crossing sign and take the X in it, or find a line of people and take the queue (Q). There is no real rhyme or reason to the puzzles.

There is also a cryptic crossword, which I love, although it was a little weaker than some cryptic crosswords I've seen.

Overall, a well done but flawed game.

Crossword IF, February 18, 2015
This is not a plot-driven game as such. Instead, the player collects clues to complete a crossword. The structure is consistent, with occasional pleasant puzzles, but suffers from obscurity in a number of places. (Spoiler - click to show)Since the main goal is to collect letters, one ends up having to work out synonyms or abbreviations for letter names. Some are witty, e.g. "double ewes"; some feel forced, e.g. "monsieur". A number of the puzzles also seemed forced, and one can put the game in an unwinnable position with no real warning. There was some occasional hunt the preposition frustration ("look in" vs. "look into").

While I enjoyed the technical exercise, I wasn't gripped enough by the game to invest too much of my time. I ended up using the clues to move things along (the clues are well done). This is a shame, since it made me hurry through the game and also not pay enough attention to the ending(Spoiler - click to show), which in retrospect was the best single piece of writing.

As a specific piece of wordplay, the game has a place, but as interactive fiction I find it falls short in terms of plot and engagement. That isn't really the point, I suppose. And I enjoyed the appearance of the great British removal man.

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Recommended Lists

Letters from Home appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Recommended Linguistic Games by E.K.
Good games that use language puzzles, or language itself as the puzzle.

Word-play games by Emily Short
Games where the text of the game is part of the puzzle.

Polls

The following polls include votes for Letters from Home:

Solved without Hints by joncgoodwin
I'm very interested in hearing truthful accounts of at least somewhat difficult games (or games that don't solve themselves at least) solved completely without recourse to hints, walkthroughs, etc.

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 19 June 2015 at 9:32pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item