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Not as newbie-friendly as it wants to be, May 25, 2014
by JerakoDespite the rather extensive tutorial introduction, much of this game is an exercise in frustration. Despite the author's advice to avoid the hint system, I found it absolutely necessary in several situations, with ridiculously specific puzzle solutions. Due to the "guess the verb" nature of many puzzles, it's very easy to be confused and misdirected on your own. If you use one verb, the game suggests that object is completely unnecessary, where the answer is actually doing something very, very similar on that same object.
That hint system, while invaluable, is not without its own flaws. In aiming to give you only the information you need (a "nudge"), instead the first few hints within the skill tree simply confirm, unhelpfully, that you are indeed facing a puzzle. Likewise stating the obvious, some of those hints will only tell you what you already know (else, why even look up the hint?). For example, while facing a locked door, to which you do not possess a key, one of those hints may be "You can't seem to open the door, can you?".
The quest tracking system, on the other hand, is often invaluable, in all but one instance showing you that there are indeed more little details still hidden somewhere in a specific area.
Those minor details are at once both a sort of frustration and a part of this game's strength. It is very obvious the author put an enormous amount of time and effort into this game. Within the rather large environment, virtually every single detail, no matter how inconsequential, is painstakingly described in full, vivid detail. This both adds richness to medieval London and its characters, as well as ensuring that to proceed, you really must pay attention to every detail, searching and manipulating everywhere and everything.
This richness of detail really does redeem the rest of the game. The rich prose and story make it desirable to continue trying to solve the mystery at hand, no matter how painful it may be to do so. Though the plot is interesting, one part that is unexplored is why the main character is so compelled to respond as he does, and only in that way. (Spoiler - click to show) Upon discovering the untimely death of a friend, investigation is the only course of action available, and no help at any time is considered desirable. Even when it leads the protagonist to a series of crimes and murders by his own hand.
All in all, this was an experience I enjoyed, though I am very unlikely to ever play it again. I would recommend this to other people, only so long as they already have a solid grasp of IF and its mechanics.
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