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About the StoryBlockade duty in the Bay of Biscay, vile weather, and an unplanned jaunt over the side of the ship into the tossing waves. But instead of drowning, you end up on an island that has no right to be there - and that's just the start of your problems!
Nominee, Best Setting - 2007 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 4
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The plotline is deceptively simple: you, Lieutenant James Corby, RN (who is nicely characterized) are washed up on an island in the Bay of Biscay that technically isn't supposed to exist. As time goes on, things get stranger and stranger until you are forced to make a decision about your loyalties and future. There are multiple endings and many different priorities you can pursue.
I was forced to draw a map, something I usually hate, but somehow I didn't mind. The geography is realistic and easy to visualize once you have it on paper (although it's sometimes a little under-described). Although the geography is expansive, it's logical; and a nice GO TO command quarters the difficulties of navigating it. Not once did I get lost, which is unusual for me.
The NPCs were well-developed, and the conversation system was fantastic (though occasionally unwieldy when trying to say something specific). You may find it helpful to list the characters and their motivations, as the cast is large and almost everyone has a different opinion/agenda. With regards to romance, it was quite sweet.
So far I've only mentioned what I like. What didn't I like? Surprisingly, quite a lot. I seriously disliked (Spoiler - click to show)Meg, one of the possible love interests. I used to dislike Inalda too, but having finished the game with her as my companion she's grown on me. I extra-seriously disliked (Spoiler - click to show)losing all my possessions in the marsh. I know it's supposed to be 'no going back now' and all that, but I still hated it. UPDATE: A related problem I hated was when Julia made me drop all my stuff. Mean girl. I don't know why I forgave her. Most important, the island simply didn't feel 19th century. This may have been intentional ((Spoiler - click to show)end the game by reaching the White Tower and you'll see what I mean) but if it is supposed to feel like it belongs to the wrong time period, then why doesn't the game make it more obvious instead of it simply being my personal gut feeling? Of course, my obsession with historical literature may have made me over-picky in this regard. (And why can't you call the ladies 'Miss'? Eg. >X MISS TRELAWNEY returns the annoying 'You see no miss trelawney here.' If the PC is supposed to be 19th century, let him use the manners of the day!)
Despite the flaws (which I am probably over-dramatizing) I had more fun with this game than I have with any since Jigsaw. It's worth a good go; highly recommended.
While there are mechanical puzzles, interaction with NPCs forms the bulk of the plot. The dialogue system, which suggests topics when necessary but generally allows for free interaction, often facilitated impressively smooth conversations. I applaud Eve both for allowing me to be polite to those of my interlocutors who deserved it, and for making a world real enough that I felt to urge to.
The game's hands-off, character-driven approach to guiding your actions has its downsides, of course: it's quite possible to finish the game leaving major plot lines hanging. For similar reasons, I ended up accompanied by a character whose rationale for sticking with me was never really established. It seems to me that fully experiencing what Blighted Isle offers depends a bit too much on the player's completism and too little on in-game motivations.
These flaws aside, my opinion of Blighted Isle was overwhelmingly positive until the endgame. Take this next spoiler tag seriously- I'm going to reveal a couple of big twists. (Spoiler - click to show)The ending I reached involved my saving Winston Churchill's life on the orders of King Arthur. By which I mean saving a racist warmonger of questionable competence because an absolute monarch told me to. Yeah, the protagonist might well be up for that. I'd built up sympathy for him by that point, though, and felt a bit betrayed (not to mention deprived of a satisfying conclusion). On the plus side, the Arthurian, time-bending reality of the island was very well-foreshadowed.
In the end, I found Blighted Isle an impressive application of writing and programming skill to slightly unworthy material. I would recommend trying it: its successes are numerous and its failures are interesting.
There are a dozen or more NPCs, and there are a great deal of sidequests. Most of the game can be skipped on a good walkthrough (or at least a good chunk of it).
The weird part was the fact that all single woman in the game are written as gorgeous and interested in your character, with you getting the pick of them. Now, dating simulation in general isn't a horrible idea, but one when character's description is that "The word 'buxom' was invented for her', it gets pretty lame. Fortunately, you can avoid anything you don't like.
This is a big, rich world, with a very large map. I only needed hints 2 or 3 times. On one puzzle, though, the whole puzzle revolved around examining an item only mentioned once in the middle of a room description that was one of dozens of room descriptions of no importance, so I don't think I would ever have solved it on my own, because I was skimming the descriptions by then.
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