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Detectiveland

by Robin Johnson profile

2016

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(3)
4 star:
(13)
3 star:
(5)
2 star:
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1 star:
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Number of Ratings: 22
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- enigmity, March 21, 2017

- nf, February 15, 2017

- kala (Finland), February 4, 2017

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, light adventure. Pretty much perfect., January 16, 2017
In the first scene, Detectiveland strikes a distinctive, familiar tone. A cold beam of hard-boiled cynicism, projected through a filter of coy self-awareness. From beginning to end, the exposition and action are consistently direct, sparse, and more than a little silly. The music and the type-writer theme complement this style very nicely.

The puzzles are fun, and the solutions are often a bit off the wall, without becoming unguessable. It helps that they don't all have to be solved in a particular order. For the better part of the game, there are three cases that can be worked on simultaneously or in any order. Some of the puzzles (including the last one) can be solved in several different ways.

- magicnumber, January 9, 2017

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Great fun, January 6, 2017
by Ruber Eaglenest
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
Disclaimer: Hi, this are the reviews I did in the the IFComp 2016. Iím Ruber Eaglenest. Co-author of The skyscraper and the scar, and entry of that year. The review is posted without edition, and need some context about how I reviewed and rated the games. So, apart of my bad English I hope to be constructive. I will point to the things I don't like of the game, but I hope to be helpful. The structure I follow is this: Title, one line review, two to five word; Mobile friendliness, overall, score phrased based on IF comp guidelines. I had back ache and so thatís why I played most games in Android mobile, I looked closely at how games behave on mobile and review and vote based on that.

Mobile friendly: almost there, it just needs autosave, some optimisations on intelligent focus when hitting a button (that it gets you the proper section by context), and some bug fixes. The sounds breaks in android mobile. I miss a more large buttons, or an option to size them up. However it was pleasant to play and very funny.

Overall: I love the world model. I LOVE UI design. I love the style. I love the implementation. I know Robin is very proud of his landscape design for the game, but It works better for me in portrait, in mobile. It just need a further iteration in the UI to be just a perfect responsive IF system. And in landscape my eye jump too much from the left panel to the right panel, so I prefer to resize the window on desktop. Again, for me, portrait with this IF system, is perfect.

The game, as Draculaland, falls on the humor pastiche sub-genre genre (sic). Iím not very fond on detective stories, and definitively Iím not into pastiche humor pieces, but Robin is soooooo fun, he is so smart doing it, that I laugh out loud several times. Just take attention to the office of the Player Character (PC) and later read the Detective book 1001Ö so funny.

I like that the just plain silliness of Draculaland goes here to another level, and that it works so well. It seems as if Draculaland were the first draft of what is coming, because the pastiche silliness is there, the UI is there, both games has the same CSS visual design, but in Detectiveland it simply all makes click! together. Thanks to the improvements in multimedia, the music, the portraits, and of course the magnificent cover, everything works towards the goal, that is to have great fun with a solid modelled puzzle game.

The better of it is that the model system works. This system remembers us why modelled worlds are so funny to play, and in a world that goes towards hypertext and CYOA domination, this feels as fresh air: the old made new again.

Returning to the use of multimedia, however, the music felt repetitive. It seems the author is not comfortable yet with the silence, and the space around it. I think the game would benefit a lot from a more discrete use of the music, doing only a 2 or three times loop, and then stopping until another change in the ambience of the scenery. With that, short bursts of music, would serve as a perfect cue to the new ambience instead of fill every space with an eternal repetition.

On to the structure, it is somewhat open: you have three cases to work, but you have to choose one. The world organises itself for the case at hand. Once the player has solved the three first cases, the games gift us with a fourth case. The initial puzzles for each case are very easy and straightforward, but I found some of the final ones too difficult without learning curve or a progressive difficult curve in the middle. Probably thatís because the nature of the comp, but for a future releases of this kind of games could benefit a lot of a more expanded play time, and a smooth difficult curve.

In one of the final puzzles for one case, the solution was Ö almost "read the mind of the author", but I think it was very well implemented, with an exemplary design on trial and error. But as I'm not accustomed to this nowadays I made the decision to go to the police station; I had the motivation to do that, but, of course the location was not prepared for me for that concrete case finale, so I got stuck. I think for those occasions the game could benefit of a little more railroading or adding dynamic clues when the player has the motivation to look for in other places when he has failed the puzzle and failed to notice that he has to return to the problem at hand in the same place. ButÖ this is nick picking. We donít need perfectly round games to enjoy them, isnít it? Because this is a game of 9. Ooops, I said that... agh, forget it.

Score: Excellent.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Atmosphere: check. Subversion: check. Parser puzzles in Twine-like: uh.., November 22, 2016
by streever (America)
Detectiveland is a well-written call-back to the interactive fiction of yesteryear: the terse room descriptions and unguided exploration of a classic Scott Adams work mixed with the contemporary themes and concepts present in modern interactive fiction.

Music, sound effects, and visuals all work together to provide a compelling and tight experience. The writing voice is strong and firmly in line with the hard-boiled potboilers of detective fiction, while avoiding the blatant sexism and nihilism that pervaded noir.

There are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the piece, and some of my favorite endings are the "bad" ones, which aren't differentiated outside of your experience. They all end the same, but the last moments, as chosen by the player, are relevant and and meaning.

The puzzles were a nice touch, and show a way for twine-like pieces to recreate classic "do what with what" puzzle design. Some of them were a bit obtuse at first, but the game aspect is very forgiving, and it's easy to attempt again. The game aspects deviate from classic IF in not being cruel; the game state can't be made unplayable.

This was a satisfying detective romp, and it's obvious why it won the 2016 IFComp. Very recommended.

- E.K., November 20, 2016

- The Xenographer, November 19, 2016

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), November 18, 2016

- heartless, November 18, 2016

- Pegbiter (MalmŲ, Sweden), November 18, 2016

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 18, 2016

- Liza Daly, November 17, 2016

- Audiart (Davis, CA), November 2, 2016

- verityvirtue (London), October 23, 2016

- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), October 19, 2016

- mr.jones, October 18, 2016

- Denk, October 14, 2016

- Matt Bates, October 10, 2016

- Sobol (Russia), October 3, 2016

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
It doesn't take a gumshoe to figure out this one's a gem, October 2, 2016
by Steph C
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
A great cover tells you just what sort of noirish period piece to expect, and the gameplay presentation is absolutely top notch, with a deliciously atmospheric typewriter setup that fits the theme perfectly without being distracting. There are even vintage character portraits. This is one of the slickest and most professional looking presentations I've seen for an IFComp game so far.

Play-wise, it's a puzzle adventure, but rather than typing into a parser, you're given a few options to click on depending on context. I've seen Quest games do this sort of thing before, and it makes the game feel a little like one of the 90s' era adventures like Day of the Tentacle or the Monkey Island series. The positive of this approach is that you don't have to worry about syntax; the negative is that it's harder to come up with a surprising solution to a puzzle, since all the options are presented to you right off (the 'just try everything with everything' problem.) Detectiveland manages to pull off some neat tricks here, though--in particular, the last puzzle of the case I played, "The Big Pickle", hit right in the sweet spot for me, not too baffling but clever enough that I felt smart when I realized the solution.

Witty, stylish, and lots of fun--highly recommended!


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