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baluthar.z5
competition release
For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
bal-walk.txt
walkthrough

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Baluthar

by Chris Molloy Wischer

Horror
2003

(based on 17 ratings)
3 member reviews

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 2181
IFID: ZCODE-1-030926-A1C3
TUID: annp0nwttzb4jhcb

Awards

8th Place - 9th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2003)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide


A specimen of the horror genre, which, however, rather will entertain you with good puzzles than send a chill down your spine. Very solid, careful implementation, yet it left me with the feeling that something was missing. It resembled an average albeit well-budgeted Hollywood movie: you'd never regret the time and money spent on it, but you hardly would remember it too long, much less go watch it a second time. I'm aware I'm getting pretty subjective, though.

-- Valentine Kopteltsev

SPAG
All in all, the fact that I'm nitpicking some details of prose and the mechanics of player investment rather than bemoaning poor coding and broken puzzles argues very much in Baluthar's favor. It's got a good opening and some neat ideas, and while it isn't quite great, it's nonetheless a very solid game.
-- Mike Russo
See the full review

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

Every author is a rookie once, and only once, and those who can learn from their mistakes and try again will inevitably produce a better game next time out. There are some things about Baluthar that showed promise... I'll be interested to see what sort of improvements occur when and if the author produces another game.
See the full review

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(0)
4 star:
(5)
3 star:
(11)
2 star:
(1)
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 3
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A darkly atmospheric fantasy game. Explore a well rumored to be cursed, February 3, 2016
Baluthar is an interesting mix of a game. The opening makes it feel like an alt-game for depression, which is pretty well done. But then it takes a short detour through epic fantasy into a horror game similar to the Ravenwood setting of DnD. You search a well for your son, and encounter some frankly disturbing material down here. The gore level here is roughly equal to that of One Eye Open or the Walking Dead.

The puzzles are fairly simple at first, with generous nudges in the game. I used one line of one hint near the beginning, then another hint right at the end. The end is a bit harder, as the final puzzle abuses the IF setting a little bit.

The middle of the game is the strongest, while the finale is pretty weak.

Overall, a recommended game. The imagery in the middle is truly excellent.

An effectively grotesque dungeon adventure set on a strange world., October 28, 2015
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: horror, Inform, fantasy
Baluthar is a fantasy-horror adventure set on a world which has been invaded by the Ivarns, a destructive and technologically advanced race. While this setting informs the events of the game, it does so from quite a distance. The game itself is really about a father following his missing son down the horrible dungeon in the well outside their hut. You play the father, and must first drag yourself out of bed after reading a heavy, non-diegetic quote from the book of Ecclesiastes.

The construction of the sense of the greater world in Baluthar is impressive. The game physically presents just a very specific part of it, but through the ruminations of the character of the father, and through scenic features like paintings and through the anthropology of the game's rather horrible monsters which are lovingly described a strange portrait of the whole begins to emerge. I see that the game was criticised upon its release for not letting the player venture out into that whole, but this element didn't bother me. The game's achievement is the grotesque inventory of creatures and weird artefacts it delivers in the space of a single dungeon: a child-ghoul, rooms awash with rivers of fist-sized corpse beetles and a half-alive skull embedded in a laboratory wall amongst them.

Getting around these creatures and overcoming hostile magic are the subjects of the game's puzzles. They aren't too complicated, and there's a completist hint system built in if you get stuck. The writing is vivid, certainly purple at times, overloaded with too-long sentences and prepositions, but given the intensity of the content and the shortish duration of the game, the style does not outstay its welcome for what it's doing. It is also clever in building up the world mythology out of little strokes and asides distributed throughout the prose.

The parser itself is the weak point. It just isn't honed enough to deal with some of the more obvious ambiguities of player intent in relation to the game's content. Baluthar was the author's first game, and programming up the interactions is his obvious site for improvement. But as a fantasy puzzle game with a horror-leaning aesthetic, it is self-contained, imaginative and satisfying.

The game potentially doesn't follow up on the existential weariness expressed in its opening, but I'm not sure. After it was over, I found myself thinking about the way the character of the father had been expressed. Weary at first, single-minded in his quest to find his son, wordless by the end. Perhaps it was the ASK/TELL system, implemented rather feebly in Baluthar for communication between the father and son, that left a querulous feeling on this front.

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A Grim Admixture, August 2, 2009
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)
Baluthar features horror tinged with science fiction, in a rare example of where elements of the two genres fuse into a cold, grim, dreary concoction. (Yes, that is praise!) It has a rather rich back-story and gives you a flavor of dread with an opening quote from Ecclesiastes (one of the heaviest books in the Bible). With all this said, it doesn't go for the atmospheric or emotional jugular, but rather presents puzzles along the way that -- if they worked -- would support the unfolding of the story nicely. Unfortunately, all progress halts at the door scene. The answer isn't too hard to figure out, but it just doesn't work. It's a shame, really. I was looking forward to seeing how Baluthar turned out.

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Recommended Lists

Baluthar appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Recommended Horror Games by E.K.
My horror preference is literary with a strong atmosphere, so those types of games will make a stronger showing here than splatterfests, but I have an affection for some of those too. List currently in progress.

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Top-notch horror or terror games by madducks
I'm looking for games that are the best representations of horror or terror in IF.

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