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-- Valentine Kopteltsev
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
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>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.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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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
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.
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Recommended ListsBaluthar 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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