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Mountains of Ket

by R. A. McCormack

Episode 1 of Ket trilogy
Cave crawl
1984

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Number of Reviews: 1
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Disincentive Software, August 26, 2016
by Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle)
An old-school cave-crawl; part of an unfortunate trend, predominantly in the UK, of games which offered a prize to the first player to complete them, as documented by Jimmy Maher:

To make a puzzle that will be attempted by thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people and not have it solved within hours ó a development that would be commercially disastrous ó requires making that puzzle outrageously hard. And outrageously hard puzzles just arenít much fun for most people. Itís this simple truth that makes the idea of a mass treasure hunt much more alluring than the reality. The differences between the demands of the contest and the demands of good puzzle design are almost irreconcilable.

'Outrageously hard' is a qualitatively different from 'very hard', here. The approach all but mandated games which weren't just difficult, but cruelly unfair. In order to win Ket, you must use a password which only appears, randomly, for no diegetic reason, in a particular room of the early game; that room has become inaccessible by the time you need to use the word, rendering the game unwinnable without the player ever knowing why. There are a number of tightly timed sequences which will kill you if you do anything wrong, and a lot of random combat which will usually kill you even if you make optimal choices. The mid-game features a brutal inventory-management puzzle. Even with a walkthrough this is a painfully difficult game to play.

Ket has modest narrative ambitions: it's a minimally-written D&D-style melange with a nondescript hero who has no very strong motivation other than getting from point A to point B. A small distinctive feature is that the narrator is meant to be a companion of the player-character - so 'we' gets used a lot, and occasionally the companion passes comment - but this is rendered in an unclear and often confusing way, and it's never really built into anything more than a gimmick.

Mildly interesting as a piece of archaeology; not recommended otherwise.