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


Author: William A. Tilli
Language: TADS2
Score: 4

A middling adventure game that focuses on the other side of the typical treasure hunt. Instead of a dashing aventurer, you're a goblin whose home has just been ransacked.

Like other Santoonie games, Zero suffers terribly from dismal spelling and grammar. In some cases, it's as if a spell-checker was employed without the benefit of a dictionary, resulting in the wrong choice of homonyms. For instance, the goblin home is attacked by humans described as "fowl men" (chicken people, perhaps?), one character "excepts" a gift from another, and a makeshift anvil is covered with "a black suit ... possibly from hot fire". The game is apparently divided into two parts. In the first half, you must try to straighten up the goblin lair after the terrible human attack. The second part supposedly involves retrieving stolen items from the chicken people, but I wouldn't know because I never finished the initial set of tasks. The problem was that each puzzle in the first half is a single link in a chain; once you restore one object to its rightful location, there's a change made to one of the rooms and now you must hunt through all of the rooms to figure out which one. Repeat repeat repeat. In fact, here's the exact text from the HELP command: "During the gather stage, within the goblin lair, you must find specific items and place them in specific spots, then examine them after placement to activate additional items. It is required to visit same locations over and over again." At some point down the chain, I couldn't find the next change and gave up.

I encountered various problems while playing Zero. At one point you encounter a companion (and a rather annoying one at that) who follows you around. However, the game doesn't indicate anywhere that he's following you, so you may not realize this until either you look again at the room or he interjects with one of his loud and obnoxious comments (such as "I'm hungry as a bitch"). Some of the NPCs (the king and Armod for example), when replying to a question about a particular topic, will reveal some wisdom on the subject... and then immediately follow that with their default "I don't know anything about that" text. And then there's obligatory Santoonie sleep and hunger timers.

Not much. Between the spelling problems, the constant hunt for which room changed, and the antics of my "companion", my willingness to play got sapped pretty quickly. There were no actual hints for what to do next, and no walkthrough.

Final score: 4

High point:
The game was pretty consistent in its level of quality, so no particular part of the game jumps out at me.

Low point:
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