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Reviews by Denk

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View this member's reviews by tag: ADRIFT 4 ADRIFT 5 Eamon Homebrew parser inform Quest Telarium
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Hawk the Hunter, by Jonathan B. Himes

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fun for a while but could use an extra layer of polish, April 11, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Quest
Edit: Since a serious bug in this game has been identified, the bug can easily be avoided, which is why I have revised my review completely. The bug is triggered if you type "SCRIPT ON", so don't do that. Further more, version 4.0 of the game has been released, which is the version I am reviewing. In the time of writing, version 3 is on the Spring Thing site, whereas version 4.0 can be found on www.textadventures.co.uk (there is a link to the newest version from this IFDB page)
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This IF fantasy RPG made with quest is fun for a while, though it could use some more polish, which makes it a bit frustrating at times.

The game is a sequel to the movie "Hawk the Slayer" and most of the text is well written. Once in a while, I was in doubt if I had missed something or the game simply was referring to something which happened in the movie. I think it would be good to provide a bit more backstory for those who haven't seen the movie.

I also think that the player should be told from the beginning that they should type HELP since the HELP contains some information the player couldn't know, e.g. type INCREASE STRENGTH to increase you strength etc.

The game has stats and a combat system which is for the most part well implemented. However, if you killed a character (let's call him John), the game simply says "You can see John". It would be better if the game told us somehow that John was dead, e.g. "you see the body of John" or something like that.

Other examples of lack of polish:
1. You might not be able to pick up an object because you are carrying some other object. But if you drop the object you are carrying and pick up the objects in the right order, you can carry them anyway.

2. An NPC has an object you want and encourages you to trade, e.g. rare weapons. I tried to type several weapons I had, I tried typing GIVE <object> TO <npc>, and I tried to type SAY <object> and I tried to type a meaningless command. No matter what I type, I am given the same answer: "Just move along then. Got work to do!" As a consequence, you do not know if you are writing the command incorrectly or if it is the object he doesn't like. Since he is asking for weapons, there should at least be some explanation why he does not like the weapon you want to trade.

3. At some point I enter a certain location and are attacked by a very strong enemy. An error-message occurs:
"You are dead!
Error running script: Only one wait can be in progress at a time."

I enjoyed playing for a while but I did not manage to get many points on my own (30 points out of 360). There are some hints on textadventures.co.uk which may bring you further. In the long run the game couldn't hold my interest, since I quickly got stuck. For instance, I never found a torch so I couldn't really visit all the dark locations.

Difficulty level is of course a matter of taste. I regard myself as a medium IF player and I think I should not get stuck so early in a game. If I get the feeling that I will have to rely on a walkthrough for most of the game, I usually quit.

To sum up, this is a decent game, which could use some more polish. It is a bit too difficult for my taste but some of you might like the challenge. But be prepared to save and restore often.

The Prongleman Job, by Arthur DiBianca

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Verbless treasure hunt in a house, April 3, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Inform
Probably inspired by the game Sugarlawn(?), Arthur DiBianca has made a fun treasure Hunt set in a house. Similar to Sugarlawn, you must find as many valuables as you can within a time limit. The story is different but not so important to the game. Still, it is nice to have a story: You are a member of the local Thieves' Society and you are given your first real assignment. You're to enter the home of the wealthy Prongleman and steal ten valuables...

So already here, the game begins to deviate from Sugarlawn since we know there are ten valuables and that it should be possible to get them all. Well, I haven't collected them all, only (Spoiler - click to show)eight and I'm pretty sure where the two missing ones are but I don't know how to get them so I cannot be 100% sure since no walkthrough has been released.

Another significant difference is that the game is verbless. To examine and/or interact with an object you should simply type the object of interest. The only other commands you can type are N, W, E, S, Look(L), Inventory(I) and Leave. You can choose to leave the house before Prongleman gets home if you think you are not going to find any more valuables. Alternatively, you could just pass the time until Prongleman gets back, then you will flee out of a window. In any case, you are given a rank, e.g. Slight Thief if you only got one valuable.

The game is certainly smaller and less complicated than Sugarlawn but for as long as it lasts, it is just as enjoyable with its own original feel. It is a nice contribution to the list of IF optimization games like Sugarlawn and Captain Verdeterre's Plunder.

Napier's Cache, by Vivienne Dunstan

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short, easy and well written, April 2, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Inform
I have been looking forward to this game since I played the IntroComp version in 2018. I wasn't disappointed, except that I was hoping for a longer game since I was having such a good time! But I guess no matter how long a game is, you would like it to be longer if it is great.

This game is both short and easy but what there is, is well written and I was constantly excited to see the next scene. There were no ingenious puzzles, but they fit well into the story. The ending was a bit tame, but otherwise, it was a great game. And I cannot guarantee that there isn't a better ending and that I just didn't find it.

Anyway, I am glad I played it.

The Treachery of Zorag, by Derek C. Jeter

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Very cruel but a rewarding challenge, February 1, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Eamon
This game contains:
* 304 locations
* randomized combat
* hunger timer
* thirst timer
* tiredness timer
* a light source with limited fuel
* a maze-like area
* Eamon parser (limited verb-set but how to use commands is explained)
* NB: Online version cannot SAVE and RESTORE. Download the game instead.

If you can cope with all this, this is a very fun and rewarding game with some fun puzzles too.

In this fantasy game, you are leading a party who is to find and defeat the powerful wizard Zorag. However, not everything is as it seems...

You quickly learn how to handle hunger and thirst so that is not a big challenge.

Tiredness is not critical but reduces your abilities in combat. Thus it is a good thing to CAMP once you get tired. While you camp, you and your friends take turns looking out for enemies. You and your team might get assaulted while you are camping, which starts a combat scene.

The light source is quite limited, so make sure you save the game before venturing into a dark area since there is not enough fuel to map and examine everything in one try.

The swamp is slightly maze-like, so you might want to save your game before going there, and then you can distinguish the locations by dropping your objects in the locations temporarily.

The parser is similar to other Eamon games: If you type a verb the game doesn't understand, you are given a list of verbs understood by the game. Thus you rarely have to guess verbs. If you are to use an object you should normally apply the verb USE, e.g. USE SHOVEL rather than DIG, USE BUTTON rather than PUSH BUTTON etc. The TALK command is a bit strange though: It requires the syntax "TALK <character> ABOUT <topic>". It would have been more appropriate if the command was named ASK instead of TALK.

The HINTS command gives only general hints on how the Eamon parser behaves, e.g. if you are to take an object from a container you must REMOVE the object. Stuff like that.

The difficulty of the randomized combat is medium. I think it will be possible to complete with a brand new character. However, Eamon Deluxe contains some predefined characters in case you don't want to build up a character from scratch, but just want to play this one game.

It is highly recommended to play the download-version since the online version cannot SAVE and RESTORE. Furthermore, the online version runs slower and you cannot bring your own character into the online version.

I can only say that I enjoyed this game a lot. It is the biggest Eamon game available and among the best. The random elements might not suit everyone's taste. But if you like Eamon games I think you will enjoy this too.

The Heart of Gold, by Frank Kunze

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Hitchhiker's Guide meets Eamon: No combat and lots of puzzles, January 12, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Eamon
The Heart of Gold (THoG) is highly inspired by the first two books in the “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” series but twists the story, so that the planet Eamon was in the way of a new 'hyperspace bypass' and would promptly be destroyed. Your friend Ford Prefect helps you escape by hitching a ride with The Heart of Gold spaceship, where you will meet all the familiar characters from the first novel. From here, you will go through four well-known but modified scenes from the series before you reach the end.

Some of the puzzles will be easier if you have read the books and played the Infocom game “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” but there are still some good original puzzles in it. The puzzles are certainly easier than the Infocom game but the forgiveness rating of THoG is more cruel: If you feel stuck in some of the last three scenes, it is most likely because you didn't find everything there was to find in the first scene. However, the game is quite short once you know what to do, so it isn't that time consuming to start over. There is a built in hint-system. I only needed a couple of hints (which I regretted) but if you haven't played the Infocom game or read the books you might need more. Overall, I regard the puzzles as fair.

The author (Frank Kunze later known as Frank Black) chose to write the game with the Eamon system, which is normally used for combat-heavy IF games, where you can bring character stats, weapons and armor from other Eamon games. However, ThoG doesn't contain combat at all and it is a standalone-game, which means that you cannot bring any stats, weapons or armor into the game.

Furthermore, the game understands seven new verbs compared to a standard Eamon game, whereas commands which doesn't make sense in this game, such as the four standard spells, have been removed. It can be argued that the game is an IF with a restricted verb set, and if you type a word the game doesn't understand, all verbs understood by the game are listed. If you never played an Eamon adventure before, you might want to check out the first option in the HINTS menu (General Help), which doesn't reveal anything about the puzzles in the game. Instead it tells you about how the Eamon parser behaves, which is a little different than modern IF games. Most importantly, you can INVENTORY characters to see what they are carrying and if you want objects inside other objects you must REMOVE them. The parser is primarily a two-word parser, e.g. TALK ARTHUR, though it does also understand phrases like GIVE KNIFE TO ARTHUR etc. However, the Eamon parser has the advantage that you don't need to write whole words, e.g. you may type EX WA instead of EXAMINE WALKIE-TALKIE.

The humor is more or less stolen from the books, which I regard as a good thing since I regard THoG as a tribute game with some original puzzles, and since many authors have attempted to be as funny as Douglas Adams without success.

So if you enjoyed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in any form, and you don't mind the alternative Eamon parser, you will probably enjoy this small puzzlefest.

Finally, some practical info for Linux, Mac and Windows users:(Spoiler - click to show)Unless you want to run an APPLE II emulator to play, you must download and run PC Eamon Museum for your machine. When it starts up, select "Visit Eamon Deluxe 4.5 (2007)". Then choose 1.Enter the Main Hall. When you are asked if you go over to the desk, hit "D". Then choose any of the predefined characters. It doesn't matter which one, since character stats, weapons and armor are not used in the adventure. After selecting a character, you will see a graphical view of the Main Hall. Your character is placed in the top-middle. All you have to do is go one step up using the arrow keys. You will then be asked whether you want to go on a (A)dventure or (L)eave the universe. Type 'A'. Now you get to choose which adventure set to play. Frank Kunze changed his name to Frank Black, so select "The Frank Black Adventures". Answer the questions, select "Play an adventure" and pick "The Heart of Gold". The game is now running.

Redemption, by Sam Ruby
Forgotten gem, November 29, 2019
by Denk
Related reviews: Eamon
First, I should tell you that this game is a standalone Eamon game. If you are familiar with Eamon games, you know that they normally allow the player to bring their own character with improved stats, effective weapons and armour etc. and there will usually be a lot of combat.

However, in this game, you do not bring your own character (if you play the game through Eamon Deluxe, you have to bring a character on this adventure, but the stats, weapons etc. of that character will not be transferred to this game). You start off unarmed without armour and you cannot see your stats. And when you complete the game you do not get to keep your weapons. In that sense, it is similar to the popular "Leadlight".

Some randomized turn-based combat is unavoidable, though there is not a lot of combat, and as usual with Eamon games, it is a very simple combat system, not anything like say "Kerkerkruip". However, combat is quickly executed. Let's say you meet three pirates, it is sufficient to type e.g. "A PIR" (though you may type "ATTACK PIRATE" if you like). Subsequently, you just hit enter, which will repeat your previous command, and so you will quickly see if you have a chance to beat the enemies or if you are currently too injured or if you have too little armour or are in need of a better weapon.

Since combat is executed quickly, it becomes a sort of a puzzle, which enemies to attack and what weapons and armour you should buy first. You might have to solve some puzzles first to gain money or equipment before you will have a chance against certain enemies. For instance, it may pay off to attack a difficult enemy even though you will get mortally wounded since you might find some treasure you can sell and then you can pay someone to heal you. I personally enjoy such a combination of puzzles and turn-based combat.

The genre is classical fantasy with dragons, magic etc. You will need to talk a lot to people and ask about things to complete this game. I estimate that I used about 4-5 hours to complete the game without hints. However, there are in-game hints if you need that. The parser is a two-word parser with prompts, e.g. if you type "PUT SWORD", you will be asked "Put it in what?", If you type a verb which is not understood, you will get a list of all the verbs, which are understood. If you are to use an object, the command is normally USE <object>. Verbs can usually be abbreviated, e.g. "EX" for "EXAMINE". I had no problems with the parser, but it might be because I have played several Eamon games.

The locations are simple to map, as long as you have a separate map for the wilderness and separate maps for the cities. This you are told when the game begins along with some other information, which is good to keep in mind. So I recommend that you take notes while you play. It is also recommended to save often (you have 5 save slots), especially if you defeat a strong enemy.

The game is well written with typical Eamon quirks, which do not bother me, e.g. if you examine an object you will usually get the same message as you got when the object first appeared. If you don't have a problem with such old fashioned issues and if you don't have a problem with simple randomized combat, you might enjoy this game as much as I did.

Bradford Mansion, by Lenard Gunda

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Homebrew parser puzzlefest, November 24, 2019
by Denk
Related reviews: Homebrew parser
In this game you play the role of a young associate at a law firm. Your task is to find a will in the Bradford Mansion. The story is minimal but sufficient for a good puzzlefest. The homebrew parser was pretty good. However, I think the author should have chosen some different verbs for some of the problems. However, by experimenting I found out that if I couldn't guess a verb, I should often use "USE", e.g. "use hook with fishing rod" (fictive example).

It took me only a little more than two hours to complete the game without hints. However, I did not have maximum points, so if you like to improve your score, there is more entertainment in this game. The ending was a bit disapointing though.

The game is quite classical with some typical NPC's (butler, gardener and maid). Some of the puzzles I had more or less seen before, but that does not necessarily mean that the author didn't come up with the idea himself. It is just hard to think up a puzzle, which hasn't been used before in some form or another. Still this was a very entertaining game. Four stars.

City of Secrets, by Emily Short

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Good game, November 23, 2019
by Denk
Related reviews: inform
This game is kind of a spy thriller set in a city where magic and technology exist side by side. You, an innocent tourist, is aboard a train when the train suddenly breaks down. You will thus have to stay for a while in this city you never intended to visit. Quickly you will get involved in a plot.

The game starts of very well with some events happening, which makes the story progress smoothly. After this, you get to explore the city, have lots of conversations and you get to solve some puzzles along the way. More events will occur later after you have played for awhile, progressing the story further, even if you haven't solved that many puzzles.

It turns out that you do not need to solve all puzzles to complete the game. At one point I got stuck, so I searched the internet for a walkthrough. Apparently no one has made one, so when I finally managed to complete the game, I decided to write a walkthrough. Some events occur simply after a number of turns after something has happened. As a consequence, following the walkthrough you will at some point have to wait 90(!) turns as you wait for something to happen. However, the first time you play the game you will be using even more turns exploring the city and so it will feel natural that something suddenly happens. Only if you replay the game and you are trying to figure out how to trigger a certain event, you will realize that it will occur simply after many turns have passed.

It is my impression that this game cannot be made unwinnable, though I am not completely sure. It may also have more than one winning ending(?), though I only managed to find one. So, unless you are looking for alternative endings, you shouldn't need to restart the game. Should you die, you can always undo.

To complete this game you do not need to solve a lot of puzzles. However, there will be lots of conversations. The conversation system takes a little getting used to, but then it is quite convenient.

To sum up, this is a very well written story-driven game with a few puzzles and lots of conversation, which I can certainly recommend.

Old Jim's Convenience Store, by Anssi Räisänen
Short but fun puzzlefest, November 20, 2019
by Denk
Related reviews: inform
This game is a short puzzlefest set in the present. You inherit a convienience store from your uncle. However, there is more to it than that. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will not say anything more about the plot. The puzzles are quite easy. I did however, have to consult the walkthrough once, which I regretted since the action I needed to do was an action I usually try if I am stuck, but forgot to try here. So the puzzles were certainly fair. The story is not original at all but serves the purpose for a good but fairly easy puzzlefest. Recommended, especially to people new to parser IF.

The House on Sycamore Lane, by Paul Michael Winters
Good game with minor issues, November 20, 2019
by Denk
Related reviews: inform
This is a quite good game with a few issues here and there but nothing serious. The story is simple but sufficient for a small entertaining puzzlefest. There was one puzzle, which made me look at the walkthrough since I was impatient to get on with the story. I immediately regretted it, since it was a fair puzzle. The rest of the puzzles were fairly easy, despite technical issues here and there and so I managed to complete it within 90 minutes. I enjoyed it.


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