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About the StoryIn this adventure, findeth ye olde treasures from within yon castle. Maketh friends as ye o'ercome meddlesome goblins! Outwitteth ye riddling gnome! Resizeth ye belts & belt-like things!
Can ye getteth all o' ye treasures & defeateth ye evil wizard?
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: May 31, 2009
Current Version: Post-Comp
Development System: ADRIFT
Forgiveness Rating: TBD
Baf's Guide ID: 3214
Spoof of Thy Dungeonman, by Videlectrix
Makes reference to Adventure, by William Crowther and Donald Woods
Makes reference to Zork, by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling
11th Place - 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2009)
8th Place - ADRIFT IntroComp 2009
Nominee, Game of the Year; Winner, Best Implementation (Game) - InsideADRIFT Awards 2009
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 2
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Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort is yet another treasure hunt in a castle. However, it proves that with a little stylistic flair the genre isn’t imaginatively bankrupt. The game is about a generic adventure fellow who is searching an abandoned castle for ten magical treasures. What sets the game apart from other treasure hunts is its wonderful, clever writing. The game opens as such:
Outside Yon Castle
Ye standeth at ye edge of ye forest outside yon castle, which is surrounded by yon moat. Yon drawbridge in ye east is up, preventing ye entry into yon castle. Nearby there groweth yon nut tree.
Yes, the entire game is written in this faux medieval style. Some people may be turned off by this or find it annoying but it never bothered me. Mostly because “yon” is a intrinsically funny word. The writing was quite clever. For example, yon nut tree is described as “tall and nutful,” and when trying to examine the tree’s nut you are asked “Please be more clear, what do ye want to examine? Ye nut or yon nuts?” I love that ye and yon are item adjectives.
I also liked that Thingamus drops out of the fake style from time to time. It gives the game an irreverent feel that is quite enjoyable.
That would taketh ye away from yon castle. Besides, yon forest hath poison ivy & poison ivy-like plants, and ye wanteth not to risketh getting that. Also, wolves. And, like, monsters.
This irreverential tone extends to the gameplay. The game can be beaten at any point by simply typing “win.” There are ten different endings available depending on how many treasure you have when you “win.” For example, winning with no treasures get’s you the following:
(Spoiler - click to show)Ye returneth from yon castle empty-handed and quite disappointed with yeself.
Ye spendeth ye rest of ye life complaining and picking at ye scabs for leisure. When ye hath time away from that, ye filleth in for ye lad who licketh yon stamps for ye living when he falleth ill from yon stamp poisoning. Ye doth not lasteth very long, and soon perisheth from ye lack of sustenance & sustenance-type things.
What’s more, each ending plays on the previous one. The continuity in the endings adds a nice little narrative to what is largely, though not entirely, a plotless game. The game has some nice puzzles, though they are of the sort where your traversing back and forth across the map to get items to solve other puzzles to get items. Though there are a few riddles thrown in for good measure.
Yon Astounding Castle! is a wonderful burrito of a game. It’s well made with good, if old-fashioned, puzzles wrapped in a fun old english tortilla and smothered with a heaping of irreverence. Recommended.
The game is written entirely in a mock-archaic style, which might get old(e) very fast if you don't blank it out while reading. It does contribute to the silly atmosphere, but the author might still have achieved the intended amusing effect, if he had restrained himself and had used the style only in NPC dialogue and in the integrated hints.
Depending on one's tolerance of (silly) puns, the writing might be found groan-inducing or hilarious. It's not highbrow literature, but that's not what it aimed at, and I felt it was filled with a sense of good-natured humour.
The story/plot is thinner than a Chinese lantern, but that doesn't matter too much, because the game does not pretend otherwise. Still, I'm somewhat on the fence: On the one hand, it would be nice if there was a bit more world-building or backstory. On the other hand, that would probably run counter to the game's overall style, which is a deliberate mix of traditional gaming flavour and self-aware silliness. Adding more backstory might counteract the game's lampooning of the treasure hunt genre and of IF conventions. The (Spoiler - click to show)"intricate object", for example, is clearly a parody of how some other IF games force the player to examine everything in several levels of detail. Giving that thing a credible purpose within the story-world would obviously subvert the parody, and the same goes for the motley collection of treasures.
The puzzles are mostly straightforward, sometimes allowing multiple objects for the solution. Some reminded me of the LucasArts adventures of yore.
One really cool feature is the ability to retreat from the castle at any time with the >WIN command, whereupon you'll be presented with a short account of the rest of your life. Your fate ranges from (Spoiler - click to show)an early death by stamp-poisoning to a nobleman's life, and there's a different result for each number of collected treasures.
Astounding Castle is quite long, which is good, but its later stages suffer from lengthy walks to and fro. There's also a maze, which didn't add much except a pinch of old-school flavour.
I find it hard to rate this game accurately. If four stars are taken to mean "A very good game that's almost an IF milestone", then Astounding Castle doesn't qualify. On the other hand, I really had fun with it, and three stars make it look too mediocre, so I'd rather err on the side of generosity.
Summary: An enjoyable, merry game if you're in the right mood to get into the silliness.
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