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Marika the Offering

by revgiblet profile

2007

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Reviews and Ratings

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Number of Ratings: 14
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1-14 of 14


- Indigo9182, August 7, 2014

- Katrisa (Houston), April 18, 2014

- Ann R. J., April 27, 2013

- E.K., September 5, 2012

- Bernie (Fredericksburg, VA), September 3, 2012

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), September 3, 2012

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Cleverly designed, well worth playing., September 3, 2012
by DB (Santa Cruz, CA)
Related reviews: ADRIFT
After mazes, the next tropes in interactive fiction to wear themselves out entirely were probably the “Escape the Room” [ETR] format and death. Seeing yet another ETR game is enough to make a seasoned IF player roll their eyes. These tend to be basically plotless, decontextualized setups for a puzzle rather than a good story. If you have to stuff something under a door to catch a key, it's probably enough to make a player quit. We've seen that game with that puzzle so many times and in so many incarnations that it was now beneath our notice, like spam. And the last thing we want to do is to die over and have to restart our attempts every time, especially on something so limited.

But Marika the Offering offers a fully contextualized, narratively complete game with an interesting story and a structure that subverts our basic aversion to death by turning the ETR format on its head. No longer is your goal to escape from a locked room. Your goal is to lock the room and keep a vampire from coming in.

Obvious means of entry and ways to bar them start the player out proactively, which is good because they're about to lose. When the player feels they have finally blocked off all they can they go to sleep (or else they'll run out of turns and fall asleep anyway). The player then get to watch how the villain enters the room to kill our heroine. In this way, each death is a clue in solving the overall puzzle of the game. Rather than an annoyance, the author has made death into a service to the player. Aside from presenting a challenge, the continued inventiveness of the (rather traditional) shapeshifting vampire at gaining entry into the tower room becomes a running gag that's amusing to read. Especially if you're a completionist, the flow of the game becomes more about blocking one entrance at a time and then dying, then blocking the next, rinse lather, repeat.

There are a couple of tricky commands to execute in this game where players might run into Guess the Verb troubles. It's also worth noting that the game is inventoryless, preferring to let players use things from where they lie rather than making them pick all of them up explicitly. This lets players focus on examining their surroundings and blocking exits rather than acquiring objects.

Overall, this is a rewarding, not overlong game with difficulty neatly balanced on a knife point, worthy of as many plays through as it has deaths. Highly recommended.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A thrilling gothic "Barricade-The-Room" adventure, January 16, 2011
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: ADRIFT 4, ADRIFT, horror
I heard that one-room and escape-from-the-room text games went gangbusters somewhere between the 1990s and 2010. I learned this in 2010, the year I started playing any of the non-commercial IF that had been going on for the past couple of decades. And of the one-room games I have tried so far, Marika the Offering is easily the one what is most killing it in my fave charts.

Marika is a barricade-the-room game in which you play a 15-year-old beauty who has grown up in a ye olde town afflicted by the curse of a vampire. The fiend shows up once every 15 years to snack on a pretty virgin, and God help those who don't supply him with one!.. or at least that's what he says. It's not like the parties involved are talking to each other all the time.

You, Marika, are to be the latest offering to the villain, and find yourself locked in a tower bedroom at game start. The townsfolk expect you to lie back and think of England, but your mum has encouraged you to try to make the room impregnable before you fall asleep. And so begins an extremely exciting and suspenseful race against the clock of the sun.

The writing is lovely, with a bit of a romantic trill, and it also does its utmost to be clear about the potential usefulness of all the features and objects in the room, both before and after you have made your first interaction with each. Player knowledge is divorced from character knowledge, so that even if you've played before, you can't act on an idea that has not yet come to Marika through her actions as you have dictated them.

The game also removes the need to GET or DROP things. Once an object's practical usefulness is known to your character, you can always act as if you possess it, which makes good sense given that everything you can act upon must be in the room. Generally, issuing a LOOK will remind you of the status of most things you have previously messed with, given that they will all be visible from where you stand.

Another cool feature is that if you run out of moves, fall asleep and get attacked by the vampire (it's likely to happen to every player at least once, and probably more times before they solve all the puzzles) you will learn something, from the manner of your death, about what actions you still need to take to vampire-proof your tower.

The complete backstory to the game is presented as an optional read, presumably only because of its length. You will be better off reading it before getting into the game, and it seems plain to me that if you enjoy the writing in the game, you will enjoy the engaging backstory as well. Making it optional seems to have been the only hesitant design choice ("Will this deter players?", perhaps) in a game otherwise defined by clear design choices.

Ultimately, Marika the Offering is a very satisfying and tense time-limited puzzler with a Gothic thrillingness about it and involving writing.

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Enjoyable and Almost Excellent, March 28, 2010
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)
Marika the Offering presents a situation where every moment counts, and unlike most IF games that strive to achieve this with multiple exclamation points, Marika does this through a believable plot, a creative setting, and sharp characterization. The back story can be read by typing "STORY" instead of dumping the information on the player; while it is useful reading and it adds to the atmosphere, the back story is simply too long-winded and in need of a good edit.

The setting is the inside of a tower, although your goal is not to escape, but to prevent the Count from entering. It's a refreshing twist on the customary one-room theme that hasn't been equalled (or even attempted) since. As you might expect, the atmosphere is one of gothic desperation, which proved quite enjoyable.

The gameplay is where Marika unravels, unfortunately. Initial descriptions of items are useful, but succeeding descriptions are threadbare. Most puzzles are hinted well, but a critical puzzle is not, and furthermore, its solution is not at all obvious. Yet it's apparent that the author spent time on the gameplay, given the clever use of Marika's situation to govern her responses to unknown words and the utility of the death scenes.

On the whole, Marika is an enjoyable although frustrating game. The lack of clueing for an important puzzle, the lack of descriptions, and the threadbare responses all drag down what could have been an excellent effort, leaving it stranded as simply good and promising. Marika is one of the few games that cries out for the author to give the game one last go, not only for the sake of tantilizingly-close excellence, but also, because you've come to care about the well-sketched character.

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Good short tale - Bel racconto breve, September 25, 2008
by Fra Enrico (Torino, Italy)
Related reviews: italian review
[english]
Though easy, it's a good story, well written and with the right number of puzzles, all of them moderately challenging. Style is simple yet various, apt to the atmosphear, which is well created. These are the things I like in IF: a beautiful example of Interactive Fiction, though the introduction can be judged a little too verbose.
Puzzles are simple in their ideas, but challenging enough.
Hints sometimes make things too easy, and some descriptions are too clearly pointing to the solution. The game forces you to try and retry until you find the correct combination of actions; this shortens the game's longevity.

[italian]
Benché facile, è una bella storia, scritta bene e con il giusto numero di enigmi sufficientemente impegnativi. Lo stile è semplice eppure variegato, adatto all'atmosfera ben creata e ben curata. Queste sono le cose che mi piacciono in un racconto interattivo, e questo è un ottimo esempio di Fiction Interattiva - anche se forse possiamo ritenere l'introduzione un po' prolissa.
Gli enigmi sono semplici come ideazione, ma sufficientemente impegnativi. Gli indizi a volte rendono la vita troppo facile, così come alcune indicazioni troppo esplicite. Il gioco costringe a procedere un po' per tentativi, ricominciando da capo ogni volta; in questo modo perde longevità, perché una volta capito il modo di arrivare alla fine non ha più senso rigiocarlo.

- Tom Hudson (Durham, North Carolina), April 24, 2008

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Refreshingly different one-room game, January 9, 2008
Contrary to almost all other one-room games, the goal is not to escape but to secure the room so that the bad guy doesn't get in. This is a refreshing new look at the genre and the game handles the setting quite well.

There's a time limit but it serves a purpose: every time when the time runs out and the room is not secure enough the game tells what part of the room you missed. This is infinitely better than getting a general "you died"-message without a clue how to improve the next time. It's not even annoying to die several times because each time you are making progress.

Some minor design and parser problems keep this from being a five-star game. Objects can be examined exactly once, then you get the generic "nothing special"-message. At least in one point the story suggests that an item is essential to solve the game (it is not) but recovering it is not possible and there's no indication later that it's not necessary.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Far from perfect, but enjoyable enough, December 23, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: revgiblet, ***, One-Room Game Competition 2007
The title kind of put me off this before I even started; it needs some punctuation, for one thing. The writing of the opening scene isn't great, either. Parts of it sound like bad goth poetry — "The fireplace is as empty as my heart" — and some of the descriptions are clumsy; why does the bed have "a blanket wrapped around it"?

The initial exposition ends strongly, though: "My remaining life can be measured in heartbeats. I must act!" This pulled me into the story and made me eager to get started.

And this game is worth playing. The story isn't particularly original, but the puzzles are reasonably fair and I did feel satisfaction when I finally managed to solve them all. It doesn't really have much replay value, but I quite enjoyed the two playthroughs that I needed to solve it. I would have preferred it if there had been some accommodation for alternative methods of solving the puzzles, even if it was just along the lines of letting me know why the object I was using was unsuitable (instead of just showing the default "you can't do that" response).

Having to type "story" to see the backstory was a bit odd. I'm still not sure if I liked that or not. The game is written from the first-person perspective, and the player character hasn't suffered any memory loss, so it seems odd that I-the-player have no idea what's going on at the start of the game — and it's entirely possible to play through the game without ever checking the backstory.

There is a turn limit, but it has a sensible justification (albeit one hidden in the backstory).

I'm not too keen on the way the game infers quite a lot from my commands; for example, if I type in "look at <thing>", I don't expect the game to have the PC start rummaging about in it.

One problem (which may be related to the above criticism) is that there are at least two items in the game that show me an interesting and useful description the first time I look at them, but on subsequent examination give me only "I see nothing that will help me", which is clearly untrue. So it's worth keeping a transcript that you can refer back to.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Sometimes florid writing, but fun, December 23, 2007
A mostly puzzle-oriented game about a girl locked in a tower as a sacrifice to the vampire who terrorizes her town. The challenge is to proof the room against the vampire's entry: this premise gives rise to a reasonably diverse but connected set of puzzles.

There are some flaws and frustrations, though. The ADRIFT parser lets the game down at odd times; the writing tends towards the melodramatic or faux-archaic, and doesn't set a consistent tone.

Still, I basically enjoyed playing this piece. It is short and relatively easy.


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