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About the Story"Sitting atop a small white picket fence, you watch the children play in their backyard. Behind you, is old Mr. Harkin's place, an odd place, with an odd owner. What evil might we do today? As the Devil himself, you never tire of creating havoc amongst the little souls of the world. The more innocent the victim, well, all the more satisfying."
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]
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Number of Reviews: 3
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First of all, it's such a brilliant concept: you are the devil, trying to tempt two good kids into entering the neighbor's yard, despite mom telling them not to.
There are 2 rooms- the top of the fence, from which you can drop things in the neighbor's yard, and the kid's yard, from which you can drop things in their yard.
After an hour of trying to manipulate things, I learned the following: many objects can't be referred to by their name (such as the pez dispensor not being able to be called a dispensor, or the gnome statue not being able to be called a statue). You can't take things out of the neighbor's yard once put there, and nothing can be meaningfully manipulated.
Finally, I go to the walkthrough. It was after reading the solution that I still said: "What the hell?" Even playing through, there was no reason why I could have possibly come to this conclusion. (Spoiler - click to show) The children move in a cycle, and dropping certain items- which decrease your score if done at the wrong time, will INCREASE your score if done at a certain point in the cycle. .
Out of world knowledge is KEY to this, because you'll find out that only if things were set up in the right order will anything work, like a Rube Goldberg IF, except that the only do-over is typing RESTART. The game doesn't warn you if it's become unwinnable.
The game boils down to the one puzzle. The "clue" as to what to do is redicluously subtle, even after knowing what it is, it doesn't seem fair. And keep in mind, I thought the Bank of Zork puzzle from Zork II was ingenious.
The concept was great, but the decriptions of things are short, the world can barely be interacted with, and the most common command you'll use if you follow the walkthrough exactly is "WAIT". I would really like to see a similar game with more to do and more clues, rather than what ended up being a big cut scene once you did the 4 things you have to do.
The writing is error-free and the descriptions are short and to the point. The puzzle itself depends a lot on timing, which is its only downfall. In order to understand how to time your actions, you really have to get into the devil's head and that can be a little hard at first.
The story itself is original and whimsical, making for a fun gaming experience. There are some fun "hidden" commands that will make you chuckle if you discover them. For a SpeedIF, this game is definitely a good one.
But then it becomes incredibly hard to deal with the different objects; I had to take a long look at the walkthrough. It is almost impossible to find the solution: exact timing is necessary to make progress, and if the right moment is missed, the game can easily be brought into an unwinnable state without any information about it. There are hardly any hints given which object has to be used at which time. Some aspects can only be found by guessing them. The difficulty level is increased dramatically.
So, playing this without a walkthrough is almost a waste of time in my view; it is a pity that the author has not revised this game with an otherwise fine premise and added more hints to make it more accessible.
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This is version 4 of this page, edited by Eriorg on 3 March 2008 at 1:55pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item