(none) Quintin Stone - Interactive Fiction Review
Interactive Fiction
Role-playing Games


Author: John Pitchers
Language: TADS2
Score: 4

Like "01", you wake up with no memory of exactly how you got to your current location. However, this game does have a plot and a story. Your amnesia is only short-term and alcohol-induced. In no time, you are off, in search of your missing companion and entangling yourself in all kinds of unpleasantness.

Just a recommendation: don't start your intro with "***BBBBRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAWWWRRrrrrr***". Or with giant ascii letters. Or a giant ascii eye. (The font size and colors I'll cover in the Technical section.) The intro is written in a very informal, conversational style. In fact, some of it is supposed to be the player's own thoughts, but isn't set apart from the rest of the text by quotes or italics or any other convention, leading to some initial confusion. (I played on a Unix TADS terp that doesn't do italics, but I went back and verified on a Windows HTML TADS terp.) The rest of the game is in a fairly standard tone with mostly dry descriptions simply listing room features and exits each in a separate sentence. The story itself isn't bad. You find yourself framed for a crime you didn't commit and must find a way to clear your name. The problem is implementation. At the beginning, you have to commit a pretty bone-headed action in order to proceed. Otherwise you're forced to wander around the small map until you starve (yes, the game has a hunger timer). Later in the game, as you start discovering clues, the ending becomes glaringly obviously fairly quickly. Even so, the PC seems shocked when it's all made clear.

Like I said above, I initally played in a plain text interpreter. When I ran Redeye in a HTML TADS terp, I was able to appreciate the horror of giant fonts and bright green text. Really, there's nothing wrong with the defaults. As for technical issues with the game itself, I found plenty. There are a lot of prominent room features that weren't implemented. For one that was... well, if you're going to have the line "I wouldn't touch them if I were you" in the object's description, at least have a special response to TOUCH OBJECT. There were especially irritating disambiguation problems in both of the bathrooms in the beginning area (and neither seemed to serve a purpose). At one point near the end, a police officer addresses me by my companion's name. By far, the worst bug was inside the taxi. You can't LEAVE. You can't go OUT or O. Directions don't work. You can't OPEN THE DOOR. You can't EXIT. The only recognized syntax is "GET OUT (OF TAXI)" and I literally died of starvation (in game, of course) before I was able leave the cab. This is one of those problems that would have been caught right away by a beta-tester, but manages to sneak into release because developers have natural blind spots when it comes to trying alternatives to what we know works.

What really affected my score for this game was that I just wasn't having fun playing it. I ran into too many issues that sapped my enjoyment: the missing scenery, obvious disambiguation, railroading for the sake of the story, important NPC conversation topics not implemented, and of course the problem with the taxi. I just wasn't getting into the game, I didn't care about the character, and the ending was not the surprise that it should have been.

Final score: 4

High point:
Finding that shotgun in Arthur's pants. Sounds almost dirty.

Low point:
Starving to death in a taxi. Best of both worlds: hunger timer and guess-the-verb.
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