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Ratings and Reviews by Rovarsson

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View this member's reviews by tag: adrift alaric fantasy oldschool
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The Spectre of Castle Coris, by Larry Horsfield

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Classic Fantasy meets Ghost Mystery, March 25, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
The second Alaric Blackmoon game. It's a large oldschool quest to save a village from a spectre that's killing and abducting people.
Right from the start it got my attention because of the mystery aspect. Who or what is this Spectre? Finding this out is essential to vanquishing it in the end.

I like my fantasy oldschool, straightforward and unapologetic. Here the mystery adds to the fun. Good puzzles, a great sense of space once you enter the castle grounds. Linear, but I don't mind that in this sort of game. Some great, vividly written scenes.

The author made a design choice that may be offputting to some: until you enter the castle, you must send the ghost away with a prayer every 20 turns or so. To me, this added to the presence of the Spectre, to others, this will get dull.

This game's good for a week, maybe two of ghosthunting and castlesearching fun. Well worth playing.

The Axe of Kolt, by Larry Horsfield

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
It's only oldschool fantasy but I like it., February 28, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: fantasy, alaric, oldschool, adrift,
This is cliché fantasy galore and it's great!
Step one: set expectations to sorcerers, dwarves, a magic axe and all that.
Step two: don your Hero-attire and rush in!
Step three: be stopped in your tracks by this or that puzzle that is cleverer than you thought, wander through a forest searching for poultry, witness a demonic sacrifice...

It's good fun and the Hero of the day should count his blessings that you're the one guiding him because there's a few hard and complex puzzles. (Heroes aren't all that bright in the noggin, you know).
It's also fantastically long. This is one to sink your teeth into. Clear an hour a day in your schedule for a month to play this. You might get to the end by then.

AoK does show its age: some non-interactive forest-locations all alike, lots of death, some learn by trial-and-death, timed sequences. I didn't mind any of that because: fun!

In the end, it's a great straightforward fantasy romp that had me tied to the screen for some weeks.

A Should-Play!

The Fortress of Fear, by Larry Horsfield
Rovarsson's Rating:

Divis Mortis, by Lynnea Dally

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Do Zombies go to heaven when they, uhm...?, January 2, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
A zombie game in a closed building where you wake up all alone with no memory of how you got there; all while the living dead could break through the door any minute. Yeah, I know...
Play this one though. It's very polished and well implemented. There's lots to explore, and examine. And you learn a lot about barricades: how to erect them properly if the creatures mustn't get through, how to get through them if you yourself must. Also: chemistry, yaay!

The game has a twist at the end, but you must be blind and deaf not to have felt it coming. Still nice though.

I particularly liked the epilogue. It gives Divis Mortis some gravitas, albeit after the fact. (Well, it is an epilogue...)

The Lost Labyrinth of Lazaitch, by Larry Horsfield

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Strawmen, trolls and unicorns. Oh My!, December 25, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
"The Lost Labyrinth of Lazaitch" is a type of game I miss in newer IF. It's an oldschool fantasy text adventure. Period.

No deep metaphors for our pressing modern times, no personal symbolism about overcoming your deepest fear, no soul-searching tale about spiritual enlightenment.

You are Alaric, a Hero. Somewhere to the East is a Magic Book of great importance. Obstacles and enemies are between you and said book. Overcome them and get the Book. Period.

Aaah, good times!

Be sure to bring your brain, because we all know Heroes need all the help they can get in that department, especially with puzzles like in LLL. Not too hard, but enough to get you scratching your head.
This way, they are both funny and engaging, not frustrating. Just remember the 3 IF commandments: Read, Explore, Examine.

Also bring your imagination, because on your way you will see beautiful and horrifying sights. May you be the first to live and tell the world about the troll-bowl or the Red Tower.

Full disclosure: I playtested this game.

Metamorphoses, by Emily Short

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A dreamlike search for..., December 14, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
First off, some tech-stuff: This game is, hands-down, the most deeply implemented piece of Interactive Fiction I have ever played or heard of. Along with that, it also provides an amazing freedom of experimentation. This is no sandbox, this is Dune.

The puzzles are,partly because of the aforementioned freedom, not hard. They are sensible and great fun. Choose your own logical approach and try it. Many different solutions will work, and those that don't will not work for a reason. Very rewarding.

The story is very much for the player to fill in. Lady Short gives you the backbone elements of a story of personal growth and inner realization, up to you to interpret it. The many different endings also give you many possible interpretations.

The writing is crisp and clear, giving Metamorphoses that dreamlike quality. The descriptions are detailed enough to be practical, without excess decoration. Exactly because of the sparse descriptions, the imagination has ample room to dream up it's own version of your surroundings.

Maybe the biggest puzzle here is the quest for completeness.A reverse read-the-author's-mind problem. When playing (and replaying) ask yourself, "What has Emily Short NOT thought of?"

Very, very good game.

Aotearoa, by Matt Wigdahl

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
I befriended a Dinosaur. His name is Hopper., December 12, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Aotearoa has an extremely cool premise: An excursion to a Maori island where Dinos still live. Two things that are smack-dab in the middle of my interest zone.

Unfortunately, my piping hot enthusiasm soon went to lukewarm appreciation. Yes, it's fun to name your dino-friends. The puzzles are good. The game has a great children's adventure story on an unknown island. The confrontation with the poachers is exciting.
A good game, a nice diversion for an hour or so, but not so memorable.

That being said, a ten-year-old me would have given this game a raving review, replayed it to give the dinos all different names, pulled out the books to look up Maori culture (which the now-me should do too!), and would have had dreams about this adventure for at least a week.

Given the target audience, I think ten-year-old me's opinion has more weight, so I'll push my rating up a star.

Play it with a kid, if one of those is available.

Risorgimento Represso, by Michael J. Coyne

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Urbanly Fun Fantastic Romp, December 10, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
(Well, it actually plays out as much around the city as in it, but I have my reasons...)

First things first: It has a cannon! -Hmm?.. Yes, I'll wait...

Now, Risorgimento Represso is a very good puzzler. Because the main puzzles center around the same theme, completing the first (silly) task before you is one big trial run to prepare you for what's to come. It gets you comfortable with the feel and humorous tone of the game. It also teaches you what details to look for and trains you in the specific puzzle-solving mindset you need for the game.

All the puzzles are well thought-out and in-game logical; on top of that, you might pop an eyeball or two laughing while solving them.

Storywise, Risorgimento makes fantastic use of the Wizard's Apprentice-trope. The whole concept gets the player and the PC on a shared learning curve, facing the same obstacles, and scratching their heads at the same times. I found this really heightened my involvement with my character and with the story.

There's a great build-up of tension, from playful exploration and experimentation to seriously hard thinking about how to save your Master. That's a good learning curve ànd a good immersion curve for you!

So, go shoot that cannon, those of you who haven't done so already; and don't smell the paint thinner, it's bad for you.

Glowgrass, by Nate Cull

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Nice immersive sci-fi bit., December 8, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
One of the first IFs I ever played. I then thought it was fantastic. Upon replay, with many more games to compare it to, it can still hold its own.

Spatially, it's a small game. A house, a garage and a garden (where the eponymous Glowgrass grows. Beautiful image.) The feel of the game is larger though, thanks to a sort of VR-device you find in the house. The heart of the story, the backstory of the people who once lived in the house is to be found there.

Not much puzzlewise, nothing that a curious mind can't handle without hints. (and one small how-do-I-phrase-this-so-the-game-understands puzzle).

Good moving story, well recommended.

Babel, by Ian Finley

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Classic Second Era., December 8, 2019
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Babel. What a game. During my first tentative journeys into IF-land, I stumbled across this deep, dark psychological horrorstory. I recently replayed it and it's still as haunting as it was then.

Do not riff on Babel for using the amnesia-trope. I have seldom seen it used so effectively as a source of suspense in IF. No lazy author here, but a tried and true storytelling technique that takes the reader down into the deep with it. Think Dr. Jeckyl.

Early modern IF that it is, Babel sometimes relies heavily on non-interactive scenes to make sure the player sees the whole story. I don't mind this one bit, I am as much a reader as a player, but I know this bothers some people.

The story is great, albeit not very original in this genre. Well told, well paced. The surroundings are fantastic, I thought. Varied enough to avoid feeling buried in a tunnel, without losing the thrill of the dungeon-feel.

The puzzles are not so hard, as long as you are patient enough to stick to The Adventurers Code: Read! Explore! Examine!

All in all, a true classic of the modern age.


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