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About the StoryYou're about to get yourself into very deep trouble.
You're a backwater island's top diver and foremost expert on local shipwrecks. Which makes you perfect for the job a band of the island's shadiest characters has in mind for you. It's a simple business proposition: all you have to do is locate and salvage a fortune in sunken treasure. You stand to gain millions. The only drawback is, it could cost you your neck. Because to successfully recover the treasure, you'll have to survive the perils of diving in unknown waters - and the even greater danger of an untrustworthy crew. But none of that will stop you from taking the plunge. You're the type who believes that when stakes are this high, even when your odds are this low, it's worth running the risks of dealing with Cutthroats.
The adventure comes up to the standard you would expect from an early Infocom with a certain amount of character interaction, well thought out puzzles and a richness (though, granted, economy) of prose with dashes of humour. But, as a confessed Infomaniac and die-hard text adventure fan you'd expect me to like it wouldn't you?! Cutthroats is definitely not one of their best but if you haven't already got it then it's one to add to your collection. I found it easy - probably because I'd already worked my way through all their other titles - but enjoyable nevertheless.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Yep, it was increasingly looking like I’d have to finally buy a PC with this Windows 95 that everyone seemed to be talking about. (Civ 2 pretty much was the main motivator)
But getting back to the game, I got this one thinking that with a name like Cutthroats surely it would entertain. I suppose I should have learned my lesson with Moonmist.
As usual the feelies were cool and necessary for parts of the game. And that’s about one of the few good things I can say about it. Much like Moonmist, they experimented with the concept of different endings which gives some replay value, but much like Moonmist, I wasn’t particularly enticed to play it again.
A “living world” that the game tries to create with NPCs going about their business rather than standing around for you was a good idea in theory, though the problem is because you’ve only got limited time to do what you have to do, you can miss a lot of things if you aren’t where you need to be. Worse though is everything involving the actual finding of the shipwreck, diving and such was just sort of dull in general.
I feel like with a name like Cutthroats there should have been more emphasis on dealing with the NPCs. Like having a puzzle to deal with each of them at specific times that they’re going to betray you. (And of course they’re also all trying to backstab each other for sunken treasure as well so it isn’t a case that they all just mob you instantly)
Perhaps more of psychological approach to this game would have worked better. I can just imagine having to take an entire crew (Not just avoiding taking the traitors because they ALL will be traitors, yet you need everyone’s skill at some point or else you can’t get the treasure). Scenarios could involve having to deal with someone just before you leave, during the dive, having to deal with one guy that went with you trying to off you with a spear gun, another trying to poison your food, perhaps manipulating another character so that they remain loyal to help you later at the end, etc.
Well just one aspect I think it would have been better anyway.
I'll cut to the chase for the busy reader. Cutthroats is technically crude, thematically dry, ridiculously short, and simply poorly designed. I want to caution those new to IF in particular, for whom such a sad first contact may lead them to dismiss this wonderful genre of games.
Now if you're an Infocom aficionado, you may want to know more about the rationale behind my unforgiving judgment. Here it is, with, like they say, massive spoilers ahead.
Let me start with the worst offender; The game is bugged. Wait, I’m not talking about the oh-that’s-kinda-odd type of bug. I’m talking about the how-in-hell-could-they-let-pass-such-a-game-breaker-monstrosity kind of bug. Let me explain what happened. First, the game is riddled with oddities.
(Spoiler - click to show)Being able to interact with Red when he’s not in the same location. Getting “there’s no table” answer to the input “look at table” in a room described as full of tables (you’ve guessed right, “look at tables” work). Finding an oak chest and getting two different results to the commands “push chest” and “push oak”. Having Red accepting 0 coordinates without question to only ask you a turn later why you didn’t give him any.
Granted these are common nuisances in IF, but the frequency of them had me uneasy about the whole affair. So when I finally got too desperate being stuck in the Sao Vera shipwreck (and I’m a very perseverant player), I gave in to the invisicues with the nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, I had encountered a bug. So I went through the clues, deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, only to confirm the horror; I had done EXACTLY what I was supposed to.
(Spoiler - click to show)But in my game, the orange line never showed up, and the “cut rope with sword” command when standing on the cask returned a plain unscripted “you can’t reach the rope”. I had to get to the bottom of this, no pun intended, so I started over, redoing everything pretty much the same. And of course this time the line was there, and the rope was conveniently at sword’s reach.
I’ll never know what happened, and it’s not worth investigating. Suffice to say that I had done a perfect 250 points in my first attempt but the game robbed me of my victory.
The second treasure hunt is no less disastrous, with a ridiculous puzzle which, if not bugged, is totally absurd.
(Spoiler - click to show)According to Cutthroats logic, touching a mine will blow you up, but putting an electromagnet on in and dropping the whole contraption is perfectly fine. And that’s only part of more stupidity which I can’t even find the resolve to describe further.
Let’s also mention the inelegant structure of the game, which picks a random adventure every time, forcing you to save right before the story branches out, and hope you get the favors of the random generator.
I must admit I was excited with the theme. The whole ocean treasure hunter business in itself is enough to make my imagination go. However, even in that department Cutthroats fails. The game lacks ambition and scope, making you feel like a week-end metal hunter fishing for trinkets on a beach.
Hopefully at this point I’ve convinced you to skip this enormous failure of a game, unless you’re into diehard Infocom completionism. And if you've never played an Infocom game, I recommend you pick another title, for it would be a shame to judge this legendary company on the basis of Cutthroats. I’m just baffled that the same developer could put out a jewel like Trinity and something of the nature of Cutthroats. There must be a fascinating inside story about this, probably better than the game tries to tell.
The game at first is fairly straightforward. You are a diver on an island who discovers the existence of sunken treasure (in one version of the game, it's in the Titanic; in the other, it's in a pirate ship). You're given a sequence of instructions telling you to go to different places at different times, and you just have to follow them.
Eventually, you dive, and search the wreck, finding treasure.
So where can you go wrong? You can be carrying the wrong things around the wrong people, shutting you out of victory. I think you can have stuff stolen. You can buy the wrong equipment. You can guess the wrong wreck. You can neglect to do certain activities when everyone else is busy.
So this game must be replayed over and over, following the same directions each time.
I enjoyed the story. I ended up using eristic's walk through.
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Cutthroats on IFDB
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This is version 10 of this page, edited by Zape on 23 August 2020 at 1:35am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item