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

The Realm

Author: Michael Sheldon
Language: TADS2
Score: 4

A squire can't become a knight without first completing a "randomly" assigned task. Unfortunately, I found the actions needed to complete the task to be the random ones.

Terse room descriptions can work, if done well. Here, too many of them are short and generally flavorless. The majority of the rooms are described as, "Here are the objects, here are the exits." They could really use some variety and a little bit of color, even if they're not the foundation of major puzzles. The start room and monastery have a bit of flavor and it's a shame that more of the rooms weren't like them. The story is nothing original, but I don't hold this against the game. Its puzzles, on the other hand, are its major weakness. One is imaginative, with two possible solutions. The others are boil down to stale give-item-to-person puzzles, with one of them standing out as both disgusting and completely unclued. Without reading the walkthrough or the author's mind, only the most stubborn of flailing will allow you to finish this game.

The comings and goings of NPCs used basic library functions when they really ought to have been spruced up a bit for effect. The same applies to some of the denial messages. For instance, when I tried to pick up the cat, the response was, "You can't have Picklebird." Well, why not? I also found some of the major scenery items mentioned in room descriptions to be unimplemented. Never underestimate the value of minor implementation details.

The armourer puzzle set a level of expectation that the rest of the game failed to live up to. Then I encountered the unclued puzzle mentioned above and became even more disappointed. Additionally, the game lacks polish and attention to detail. Too many things are stock responses, though I appreciated the more fleshed-out implementation of Brother Lee, with his randomized response to generic topics.

Final score: 4

High point:
Solving the armourer situation with the appropriate object. A decent puzzle that fits in the framework of the game. The bugle, its location, and its alternate use are all appropriate. Also finding out that there is a clever, alternative solution to the armourer puzzle.

Low point:
Reading the walkthrough and discovering what I had to do to "reveal" the secret of the Chi'monk. Really, his "secret" was obvious. The solution was anything but.
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