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Tough, fun puzzler with a well-drawn setting, November 20, 2018
by SpikePlaying Dynamite Powers vs. the Ray of Night! made me feel like I'd been dropped into the middle of a text adventure version of one of those old space opera radio serials from the 1930s, like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. The game does a great job of immersing you in this setting from the very beginning, with its cover art, the opening scene featuring the titular hero trying to escape yet another deathtrap, and the game billing itself as Episode 7. There are also some classic IF references and even a Looney Tunes reference.
Gameplay is fairly linear and entails solving a sequence of challenging puzzles. There are only a few such puzzles, but they're all rather intricate and require multiple steps. It took me about two and a half hours to play through the game, which included two instances of diving into the hint system.
Said hint system is a helpful feature, too. Each of the major sections of the game has a large number of hints that you can slowly uncover until you learn what you need to do. I was able to keep uncovering hints until I had just the right nudge to send me back to the game without spoiling the puzzle.
There is some learning-by-death involved, which I'm not normally a fan of. However, the puzzle that features this most strongly - the second major puzzle in the game - is quite clever, and I really, really like it. In fact, I'd say it's my favorite individual puzzle out of all of this year's IFComp games.
The game is also cruel on the Zarfian scale, although outside of the learning-by-death puzzle I noticed this mostly with respect to some information that you need. Thus if you can acquire this information some other way you don't actually have to restore to an earlier save game.
The last major puzzle is particularly challenging. Again, though, the hint system is strong enough that I was able to uncover just what I needed to proceed while still coming away with the feeling that I had solved most of it myself.
The final scene is a pretty much perfect ending to the game.
Overall, I enjoyed Dynamite Powers vs. the Ray of Night!. It's got a fun setting and some challenging puzzles that I enjoyed thinking through. It was also in my personal top ten for IFComp 2018. I'll definitely be tuning in next time for Episode 8!
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