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Threnody

by John "Doppler" Schiff

Fantasy
2005

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Would Be the Perfect Introductory Game, Except..., March 7, 2014
This was so good, but it could have been so much better if the bugs were fixed.

There's humor that's genuinely funny, a companion who is as charming as the story, and a sense of meaningful purpose; there's a reason you're here and it makes sense why you continue. The puzzles are nicely introductory and ramp up in difficulty towards the end, but never become too hard (except maybe a couple of the optional ones) or illogical. The perfect game to introduce a fantasy reader to IF, until it just sort of fell apart for a while in the mid-game.

Things like one NPC's dialogue somehow getting stuck to another NPC (especially disconcerting since they are of different genders). An NPC still wandering around after being freed. A red herring item that, when acted on, turned into an item I'd already dealt with. And a couple of times the disambiguation messaging gave away information that I really shouldn't have had (and I was allowed to act on that information to interact with an item I hadn't found yet). Glaring stuff.

Yet none of that could hide the obvious love the author had for the world and the characters (despite some gentle fun poked at fantasy tropes). For one thing, it's refreshing (and happens far too infrequently in IF) to play a character who is competent and assertive and whose main flaw appears to be overconfidence. And, for a welcome change, who isn't an assistant or apprentice or slave or lowly peasant.

The multiple career paths are neat; the core game doesn't change much but all the important things (and a lot of the puzzle solutions) reflect your choice. And Threnody is a fine companion who makes the journey worthwhile and amusing; with her commentary, my choices felt much more meaningful than they would have otherwise. She's the heart of the game and elevates it from a mild dungeon crawl to an adventure. And I loved the little touches, like when my character got a bruised foot, the game occasionally remarked on it.

I liked that the puzzles could generally be solved (Spoiler - click to show)using items present in the room or a nearby one, with some exceptions. This felt very novice friendly, with the exception of a puzzle that I thought was a bit unfair; a required item is passed to inventory silently after a very specific dialogue choice and all other options are ignored with inscrutable messaging ((Spoiler - click to show)you cannot mix a potion in the old wine bottle, the hat, or the bucket, only in the flask you're given if you (Spoiler - click to show)"ask the librarian about worms").

I guess it's probably much too late to ask the author to fix the flaws in the mid-game, but I still wish he would! I would like to recommend this to someone who hasn't played much IF and who I know would love the story and Threnody, but I think the bugs would just be far too confusing to a new player. As it is, I can still say it's a good game, but keep the walkthrough handy to help if you think you've run into a game stopping bug.