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About the StoryA cat o'nine tails; a tale o' nine cats.
3rd Place - Spring Thing 2005
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 2
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There's humor that's genuinely funny, a companion who is as charming as the story, and a sense of meaningful purpose; there's a reason you're here and it makes sense why you continue. The puzzles are nicely introductory and ramp up in difficulty towards the end, but never become too hard (except maybe a couple of the optional ones) or illogical. The perfect game to introduce a fantasy reader to IF, until it just sort of fell apart for a while in the mid-game.
Things like one NPC's dialogue somehow getting stuck to another NPC (especially disconcerting since they are of different genders). An NPC still wandering around after being freed. A red herring item that, when acted on, turned into an item I'd already dealt with. And a couple of times the disambiguation messaging gave away information that I really shouldn't have had (and I was allowed to act on that information to interact with an item I hadn't found yet). Glaring stuff.
Yet none of that could hide the obvious love the author had for the world and the characters (despite some gentle fun poked at fantasy tropes). For one thing, it's refreshing (and happens far too infrequently in IF) to play a character who is competent and assertive and whose main flaw appears to be overconfidence. And, for a welcome change, who isn't an assistant or apprentice or slave or lowly peasant.
The multiple career paths are neat; the core game doesn't change much but all the important things (and a lot of the puzzle solutions) reflect your choice. And Threnody is a fine companion who makes the journey worthwhile and amusing; with her commentary, my choices felt much more meaningful than they would have otherwise. She's the heart of the game and elevates it from a mild dungeon crawl to an adventure. And I loved the little touches, like when my character got a bruised foot, the game occasionally remarked on it.
I liked that the puzzles could generally be solved (Spoiler - click to show)using items present in the room or a nearby one, with some exceptions. This felt very novice friendly, with the exception of a puzzle that I thought was a bit unfair; a required item is passed to inventory silently after a very specific dialogue choice and all other options are ignored with inscrutable messaging ((Spoiler - click to show)you cannot mix a potion in the old wine bottle, the hat, or the bucket, only in the flask you're given if you (Spoiler - click to show)"ask the librarian about worms").
I guess it's probably much too late to ask the author to fix the flaws in the mid-game, but I still wish he would! I would like to recommend this to someone who hasn't played much IF and who I know would love the story and Threnody, but I think the bugs would just be far too confusing to a new player. As it is, I can still say it's a good game, but keep the walkthrough handy to help if you think you've run into a game stopping bug.
A Warm and Furry Treasure Hunt, May 6, 2013
I did need the walkthrough for a couple puzzles and there were some minor bugs. (Spoiler - click to show)Jeremiad is still reported to be in the garden after you free him. If you ask Threnody about the impossible cube, she talks about symbols that arenít even on it. Itís as if itís the wrong conversation or the puzzle used to be different but the advice was never changed to reflect the revised cube. As for the puzzles I had difficulty with, one of them was purely a "guess the verb" problem. The other one I probably could have gotten if I went through my items more methodically. I just didnít want to bother taking the time. Also, thereís one unfair area that gives no indication youíve missed a treasure. I would not have gotten it without the walkthrough. Itís not clued at all that I can remember, or only clued once and not a part of the room description. Thatís a major failing. And be advised you don't need every item you can pick up, so it can be overwhelming. At least, inventory is not limited that I found.
Unfortunately, because of the specific wording required to reach the optimal ending and clearly not enough beta testing, I have to rate this lower than I would have liked. I donít regret playing it, but I do regret the mechanical problems that made the game a bit more difficult than it needed to be.
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