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Reviews by Denk

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View this member's reviews by tag: ADRIFT 4 ADRIFT 5 Adventuron ChoiceScript Dialog Eamon Homebrew parser inform Level 9 Quest Telarium Unity
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Tally Ho, by Kreg Segall

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Long and well written comedy, July 30, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: ChoiceScript
This is the first ChoiceScript game I have purchased, so parts of this review may be obvious to seasoned Choice of Games players.

You start out being a servant for your employer Rory Wintermint. You will then experience a series of eventful days where you will have to choose who to help (sometimes yourself), how to help and sometimes you also get to decide which direction the story will take.

Since this game is a comedy, of course, there are lots of misunderstandings and embarrassing situations. The writing is excellent and funny though it is never hilarious, but humor is of course very subjective.

The game is quite long and it feels as if most of your choices matter. It doesn't seem like it is possible to lose, which would have been annoying, forcing the player to restart and replay the same parts over and over. Instead, it seems as if there are many different paths through mostly the same series of events, so apparently you cannot lose but you can have quite different experiences each playthrough and reach different endings and unlock 79 possible achievements. I only had one playthrough, which took several hours and I got only 10 achievements corresponding to 120 points, so I doubt you can get all in one playthrough. So the achievement system provides som motivation to play again to get them all.

The game has a stats system, and for a while, it was fun to see how my choices affected those stats. But in the long run, I didn't pay much attention to them, though it might be necessary if you want to unlock all achievements.

I haven't tried to play again, but I enjoyed my first playthrough a lot, so if you like a choice-based comedy, this game is highly recommended.

Over Here!, by Auraes

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent minimalistic puzzle fest, July 22, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Adventuron
This is a puzzle fest in the Scott Adams tradition with super-brief location descriptions, a list of objects you can interact with, a list of visible exits and pictures for all locations. However, in this game the pixelated graphics are taken to the extreme: Each picture is 32x10 pixels. Nevertheless, they are quite beautiful and colourful and it is clear what it is supposed to look like (just look at the cover art). The location pictures may change depending on what objects etc. are present and according to the author there are 148 different pictures. In addition, the text is colourful too, which all adds to the atmosphere.

This game is full of puzzles. Your job is to help the ghosts escape before a yellow bulldozer destroys everything. I have played this game for several hours but so far I have only managed to help 8 out of 12 ghosts. In addition, you can get a maximum of 7 trophies. At least some of them (all?) are not needed to complete the game but it is a fun extra challenge.

I don't know why I like this game so much - it is probably a combination of hard and easy puzzles combined with the colourful atmosphere and the extra challenge to obtain the 7 trophies. The parser accepts no more than two words and it is consistent, unlike some Adventuron games that sometimes accept four-word inputs, which can be fine if the player knows this. The author has also provided a list of necessary verbs, so you don't really need to guess any verbs.

In the time of writing, there are 14 hours left of The Next Adventure Jam. I've played all seven entries and I liked them all more or less, but this is my favourite. Recommended.

Last Night in the Office, by Tim Jacobs

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short and fun with some verb guessing, July 21, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Adventuron
You are the IT manager of Ven-Tec and you have uncovered hints of criminal activity within your company. You only have this night to uncover the evidence. This is a small but fun Adventuron jam game with a few guess-the-verb problems. Location descriptions are pretty short but some decent location graphics add to the atmosphere. It is pretty standard parser puzzles, though for a single puzzle I needed to google something before I could guess the needed verbs.

A few other places a little verb guessing were needed too, but if you are experienced in parser games it isn't a big problem. It does have a tutorial mode for the first few steps of the game, so the beginning is fine for new players. However, they will most likely have problems guessing the right verbs later on.

Still, it was fun.

Charlie the Chimp, by Garry Francis

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fun with decent parser and nice illustrations, July 14, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Adventuron
This game was part of the jam/competition "The Next Adventure Jam". It is fairly short but it has some nice puzzles and illustrations. Unlike some Adventuron games, this game understands up to four words such as PUT BALL IN BOX. I had no problems with the parser. You might think that Adventuron games require a nostalgic interest in retro-computing, but I don't think so, though they are usually puzzly parser games. The graphics are pixelated and the fonts are retro but otherwise, it is a fun short quality game, which I recommend.

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, by Pete Austin and Joan Lamb

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Same recipe, still entertaining, June 30, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Level 9
This is the second and last game in the Adrian Mole series. This time Adrian is about one year older. Technically, the game is pretty much identical to the first: It is a Slice of Life CYOA where you follow the teenager Adrian Mole for a little more than a year through his diary and often you are given three choices on how Adrian should deal with a situation. Your aim is to be as popular as possible, but for fun, you can try to make him unpopular as well and see the consequences of the more unwise decisions.

Though the game is very much like the first game in style, Adrian experience new situations which are once again humorously described. So even though there is nothing groundbreaking about this game, it is quite entertaining. The game can certainly be played without playing the first game, though it is recommended to play the first game before this.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, by Pete Austin and James Horsler

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very early (1985) Slice of Life CYOA, June 29, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Level 9
This seems to be one of the first commercial CYOA computer games. Furthermore, it was the best selling game for Level 9. It is based on the book with the same name.

In the game we follow the teenager Adrian Mole for a year through his diary, starting on the 1st of January where he lists his new year resolutions. The aim of the game is to make Adrian as popular as possible. Thus, you are now and then told your score, starting around 40%. The score may go up as well as down, depending on how well you are doing. So you might try to maximize your score, but it might be just as fun to try to get as low a score as possible. The score goes along with a description, e.g. "I, Adrian Mole, score 59 percent, which makes me a superior kind of youth." etc.

The graphics are quite useless but can be turned off. Many of the diary entries come with three numbered choices. The order of the three choices have been randomized though, so it isn't sufficient to write down the chosen number if you want to reproduce a game session.

The writing is good and humorous and manages to capture some ups and downs of being a teenager. Most choices seem to matter, some short term, others long term. I played twice. Each playthrough took me about 2 hours.

To sum up, this is an entertaining CYOA, which I recommend.

PS: Some technical details (Spoiler - click to show)- Originally, this game was available for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit and the BBC Micro. It is now furthermore possible to play the game on Mac, Windows and Linux using Gargoyle or the standalone Level9.Net interpreter. However, I couldn't get Gargoyle to pass the score from e.g. the first part to part II (there are four parts in total) but with Level9.Net there were no problems. However, if you get hold of a well-working commodore 64 version, you can run it with the VICE emulator and set the speed to No limit. The game then runs very smoothly and you can disable pictures if you like.

Tethered, by Linus Åkesson

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short with a strong story, June 22, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Dialog
Finally, I got around playing Tethered on a real Commodore 64. However, this review isn't really about playing the game on a retro-machine but the fact that I enjoyed playing the game again almost two years later and decided to make a review. I enjoyed the original z-machine version during IFcomp 2018. The only comment I have about the C64 version is that it was fast enough to be just as enjoyable.

I did remember several of the puzzles so it did not take me much time to complete it the second time around. I don't want to give away any details about the game as that would spoil the game. The story is strong and well told and as far as I remember from my first playthrough, all the puzzles are fair. I highly recommend this game.

Alien Diver, by Daza

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Underwater Strategy IF game, June 9, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: ADRIFT 5
Alien Diver is a very untraditional IF game, which combines some standard IF conventions with a card/dice game. Thus many things are randomized and thus different each time you play.

The backstory is fairly simple: On a scouting mission you crash-land on an ocean planet. Even though your spaceship can travel underwater, it must first be repaired. Before you can do that you must first find your ship, which you floated away from while you were unconscious. You must also collect four coloured fragments before you can repair your ship.

You must do all this within some time limits. Your ship is slowly being destroyed by the ocean if you don't repair it soon, and you may run out of oxygen soon too. There are ways to get more oxygen, but to my knowledge, there is nothing to prevent the ship from being destroyed, unless you manage to repair it.

So the gameplay consists of you racing around the ocean, trying to find your ship and trying to obtain these coloured fragments, while avoiding deadly sea creatures.

The coloured fragments can be obtained from the many alien cubes scattered around the ocean. A cube can only be used once. You can "roll dice" to try to and match the power number of a cube. If you fail you get a single crafting fragment (different from the coloured fragments). If you succeed you get three crafting fragments and you can then extract a blank card from the cube. The cube is then inactive and cannot be used again. Whenever you extract a blank card, the extracted blank card has a sea creature symbol. If you encounter a sea creature you can play this card to help you, though you can also attack it in a more traditional way.

But you might want to save your blank cards for something more important. If you find an active cube and you have a blank card, you can craft a card. The crafted card will then have the same power number as the cube you crafted it on. Again the cube becomes inactive.

You can then play a crafted card next time you find an active cube, though the power number of the card must match the power number of the active cube. If it does, you obtain a coloured fragment with the same colour as the cube. You must collect four different coloured fragments before you can repair your ship.

The built-in map feature of ADRIFT 5 is crucial for this game, since the map would be a pain to map because of the many curved connections. Thus it is highly recommended to download the game if you have a Windows computer (the map of the online runner is not very flexible and on Android you cannot display the map). However, the map is not randomized, so it should be possible to map it if you want to.

It is hard to explain but this game is a lot of fun. The difficulty level is not high, but you may need to restart a few times until you have settled on a good strategy.

If you don't mind strategy elements in IF games, I can highly recommed this one.

Cavern of the Evil Wizard, by MontieMongoose
Great idea, bad parser, June 6, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Homebrew parser
If you ever saw the movie Big from 1988, you might remember that the main character was playing an IF game with graphics. This wasn't a real game, just one location made for the movie. Then in 2009, BoMToons created a game with only that location.

Then, in 2020, MontieMongoose created this game, with several locations and original puzzles and the final location is that, which is shown in the movie.

The graphics style matches that of the original movie, which is fine. However, the movie was published in 1988 and there were many games with decent parsers at that time. It couldn't be seen in the movie if the parser was good or bad.

This game has a homebrew parser and the parser is very bad. Still, the game is fun, since you are told to use verbs like GET, THROW, OPEN, EAT, USE. Most of the game you use these verbs, except you also need LOOK (EXAMINE is not understood) and NORTH, SOUTH, EAST and WEST and in the final scene, you need to use a series of commands which I believe no one could guess without seeing the movie (there are videos on Youtube showing how to beat the final scene).

Thus I would recommend the author to implement the game in an IF-engine so the game would have a much better parser. Especially the end scene should accept more commands than it currently does. I am sure that the game would then be more fun to play.

Still I had fun playing it.

Are you there?, by Vicimus
Original SciFi game, June 6, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Unity
This game is not a typical piece of IF. You are sitting by your computer, checking your e-mails, contacting a few contacts, decoding secret messages and controlling drones. The game takes place in the year 2120. I won't reveal the story since it is slowly revealed why you play. The game takes place over several days. Each day you stay at the computer until all the things on your checklist have been fixed. Then you log out and come back the following day.

All the text is displayed within a picture containing a computer screen and a few other things including a window. Each day there is light coming through the window until it gets late, then it gets dark and you may see something moving outside. All this adds to a cool atmosphere.

If you don't know which commands you can use, type HELP. Once you get the hang of the game, it is pretty straightforward so you probably won't get stuck at all.

I enjoyed this a lot and highly recommend it.


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