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by David Welbourn

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Birmingham IV

by Peter Emery

Fantasy
2018

(based on 7 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

A solitary scholar, his purpose and presence in the world a mystery even to himself, ventures abroad in a dream state. He finds a land of sunny lanes and dark forests, steeped in the blood of Celt, Saxon, Viking and Norman, where paganism never really went away - the West Midlands.

Birmingham IV tells the story of what happened next. A big, puzzle-based adventure, it contains scenes of mild peril, cartoon violence, and consumption of alcohol, so please be warned.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 7
IFID: Unknown
TUID: l6k48jz3oidat0ji

Awards

69th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)

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Member Reviews

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4 star:
(2)
3 star:
(4)
2 star:
(1)
1 star:
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Period Charm, November 23, 2018
by J. J. Guest (London, England)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2018
It seems an odd thing to say about a computer game, especially one released this year, but Birmingham IV has "period charm". I started playing the game before I knew that it had originally been written in The Quill in 1988, but it immediately reminded me of BBC Micro games of that era.

Birmingham IV shares many tropes with the games of Geoff H. Larsen. It has a rural English setting with standing stones, long barrows and village inns with colourful names. It is peopled with trolls and other folkloric figures.

Unfortunately it also shares many of the faults of games of that period, such as an inventory limit. Room descriptions tend to omit the direction from which the player first approached the location, perhaps assuming that the player had made a map. It is also very easy to make the game unwinnable without realising it.

Nevertheless the Birmingham IV does have charm, and enough that its flaws didn't stop me from wanting to play it. I'm excited that David Welbourn has now produced a walkthrough, and I do hope that there's a post-comp release that's a little less "old school".

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Birmingham IV - A Review, January 10, 2019
I have just finished struggling with Peter Emery's updated old school puzzlefest Birmingham IV, originally written via the Quill in 1988 and updated for the 2018 competition as a .gblorb file.

If you are a fan of large (109 locations) parser based puzzlefests filled with logic problems and medieval scenery / objects, this game is undoubtedly for you; I am certainly of that ilk. The puzzles are hard but fair, with one or two possible exceptions. (Spoiler - click to show) Using the cat to dispose of characters without getting eaten yourself for instance .

If however, you worship at the Twine altar and dislike inventory limits, exits not fully described, sudden death endings and manifold red herrings you would do well to avoid.

The author's love and deep knowledge of time and place become evident as you uncover much that seems arcane to the modern eye, and more than once I was sent scurrying to Wikipedia to look up the meaning (and hence possible use) of the latest medieval trinket I had unearthed.

You start in modern rainy day Midlands, theses strewn over the floor but quickly slumber into a bucolic medieval setting. Your dingy bedsit has become an austere but spacious cottage reflecting your monastic, didactic choice of life; an existentialist dream maybe.

It is not immediately clear what your mission in life is, and you blunder around a large map collecting objects and meeting mostly antagonistic NPCS; as previously mentioned there is a small inventory limit (a sign of the game's age) which is a pain and means you will have to spend some time hiking backwards and forwards to collect and drop items. This is not helped by the fact that many items are totally useless but you will not become aware of this until the end of the game in most cases.

Mapping is a prerequisite because as mentioned some exits are not described.

Three missives will explain to you your mission and the puzzles generally speaking become harder as the game progresses. A magic system becomes slowly available to you as you explore but be careful where you use it!

One psychaedelic section of the game (you'll know it when you encounter it) is more than vaguely reminiscent of the Phoenix Topologika games, and Jonathan Partington's Acheton game in particular. This section took me ages to hack through but I must say is very cleverly constructed. You'll need your wordsmith's hat on is all I will say.

The game is divided into seven sections and you can only reach the next one after completing the previous one, beware however it is possible to abrogate Graham Nelson's Bill of Rights by making the game unwinnable. An example comes right at the start but should soon become obvious if you've made the wrong choice. Save often.

The writing is on the whole evocative without being unnecessarily prolix, although I did encounter a handful of typos, together with one amusing bug involving (Spoiler - click to show) the cauldron of stew in the Spotted Dog Inn.
And what's this with the watery eyes?

As an adjunct to your moral crusade there are also a number of treasures to collect along the way.

The end game throws up an interesting moral choice between altruism and greed; which road will you take?

All in all a well written puzzlefest for this nostalgic fifty something to enjoy.

Four stars.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A time capsule from the 80's. A sprawling, difficult fantasy game., November 9, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours
This game was created over a period of 30 years, using a variety of design systems.

You play a natural philosopher in medieval times, nicknamed Phil. There are a ton of puzzles and a magic system.

However, this game could use some thorough beta testing by six or more people familiar with modern IF conventions. Directions are omitted from room descriptions, puzzles are undervalued, and there's an inventory limit which doesn't really seem to do much in-game.

For people who enjoy struggling with the parser in old school games (I'm in that group, and intend to play this one again!)

If you enjoyed Birmingham IV...

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My new walkthroughs for November 2018 by David Welbourn
On Friday, November 23, 2018, I published new walkthroughs for the games listed below! Some of these were paid for by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. Please consider supporting me to make even more new walkthroughs for works of...

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by Doug Orleans on 25 November 2018 at 6:04pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item