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Steam and Sacrilege

by Phil McGrail

2016

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Number of Reviews: 2
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
An instantly compelling premise is failed by hopelessly broken implementation, November 11, 2016
by Steph C
Related reviews: IF Comp 2016
Let's start with the good: I LOVE the concept of taking a steampunk setting and looking forward to the present day, when all these glittering gears and robo-men are a part of history. This game suggests a steampunk haunted house, a combination of science fiction, ruin porn, and horror which would be an absolutely fantastic setting for a game. Unfortunately, this isn't what it delivers. There seems to be exactly one correct path implemented, and stepping off it snaps the game like a dry twig--and it's not at all clear what you're intended to do. I only managed to get through the opening scene through exhaustive trial and error (all the while being told I couldn't see or interact with things around me).

The present-day setting was even more decrepit. I have no information other than I have to go to work, but wandering out of the house took me into a maze of one-way passages and blank, undefined rooms. A man came to the door while I was in the kitchen. Then he came to my door again while I was wandering down main street and the same scene played out again. I went down an alley and got stuck. I bumped up against a metal door I couldn't see. A caretaker held me captive (apparently?) I have no idea what else you're supposed to do; there's probably an action you can take in the kitchen that triggers the rest of the story.

This game desperately needed to do one of two things:
1) Embrace the nature of the parser and fully implement the environments and for gods' sake have playtesters.
Players are going to be poking around, trying different things, and if the setting collapses like a souffle at the slightest touch, that's poison.
or 2) Use a format suited for telling a more linear story, like Choicescript. What little I saw of the story was compelling, and made me want to read more, but getting any of it out of the game was like pulling teeth.

If the idea hadn't been so good, I probably wouldn't care about this so much, but it was such a good idea, and I wanted this to be a good game so badly, and then it was unplayable.

Comments on this review

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Doug Orleans, November 14, 2016 - Reply
The game opens up a bit once you get to your workplace. You might want to check out the walkthrough (there are five walkthroughs but they all start the same...)

That said, it is still rather clunkily implemented. But it definitely gets less linear and more trad-parser-game-ish. And the story develops in surprising ways.
Chris Longhurst, October 19, 2016 - Reply
Exactly my experience.
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