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Reviews by Victor Gijsbers

puzzle

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View this member's reviews by tag: bleak brute-force Combat Comedy connect CYOA dungeon crawl fantasy horror IF Comp 2007 infocom innovative joke linguistic logic one-room parody phonebooth Political politics puzzle random death rogue-like short snack SpeedIF time travel unfair win on the first attempt
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Suveh Nux, by David Fisher

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Solid, Fun, Polished, though maybe too Easy, January 5, 2008
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Related reviews: puzzle, short, linguistic
Suveh Nux is not an ambitious game. Backstory and characterisation are minimal; it is quite short; and all of it takes place in a single, almost bare, room. In this room, the player has to solve a number of puzzles, all of which are based on a linguistic magic system. Figuring out this system is not too hard, though what you can do with it is sometimes less obvious. (I used the hints at one point, though I suppose I might have managed without if I had spent more time on the problem.)

Suveh Nux has a lot going for it. The implementation is impeccable and very polished, making the game a joy to play. The central puzzle is enjoyable, and the progressively harder tasks you are supposed to get done with the magic system are well thought-out. Therefore, I can readily recommend this game.

On the negative side, I can only say that the central puzzle is too easy: I would really have liked to see some more complex grammatical puzzles. Maybe an idea for an extended version?

This gives the game 4 out of 5 stars on an "unambitious IF" scale, which I translate to 3 out of 5 on the scale of all interactive fiction.

Lock & Key, by Adam Cadre

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Innovative & Flawed, January 1, 2008
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Related reviews: puzzle, innovative, brute-force
If you are interested in designing Interactive Fiction, Lock & Key is a game you should play: the role of the player character in this game is so different from that in every other piece that it is well worth exploring. Unfortunately, this exploration is made less fun because the central puzzle is frustratingly obscure and you can only interact wiht it through a tiresome interface.

In Lock & Key, you play a dungeon designer. You will be spending most of your time placing traps in a 16-room dungeon. Once you are satisfied with your efforts, the dungeon will be built and you can sit back and watch while Boldo the Hero attempts to escape from his cell. If he does--well, you'd better try again.

This idea is original and fun. Instead of being a static environment for you to explore, the game world becomes yours to design and someone else's to explore. Watching Boldo walk through the traps you have laid out in advance is a real treat, especially with all the humorous commentary that the different characters give.

Of course, it becomes less fun when you are reading the same description for the tenth time--and you will read them more than that, because solving the puzzle of optimal dungeon design is a frustratingly slow process based entirely on trial & error and the discover of often very non-obvious chains of causation. Bring whatever mental powers you have to the task: solving the puzzle will still be 80% brute force and luck, as traps that seemed to do nothing turn out to be essential to the final result.

If there were an easy mechanism to tweak one setting of your dungeon and replay the corresponding part of Boldo's journey, this would be a forgivable problem; but since every redesign is followed by at least fifteen intervening turns of background story, this is not the case. This makes solving the puzzle a slow and boring process, and though there is nothing wrong with some brute-forcing as such, slow and boring brute-forcing is not to be recommended.

Should you play this game? Certainly. The writing and the innovative design make it well worth your time. But unless you are a hardcore puzzle addict, you might want to save yourself some frustration and grab a solution once you've seen your first ten designs come to nought.

All Things Devours, by half sick of shadows

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Intricate Logical Puzzle, December 31, 2007
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Related reviews: puzzle, time travel, logic
This game is exactly one puzzle--but what a puzzle. If you like your puzzles logical, requiring in principle no more than strict deduction from a complex set of premisses, then you will love this game. Once you've found out how the game world works, there is nothing arbitrary anymore; there are no intuitive leaps, no bizarre associations; you just need to think carefully. The effect is a little like a chess puzzle, where'll you try out some moves, notice what goes wrong, think deep and hard, and finally arrive at the solution.

I highly recommend it.


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