From the first few paragraphs, I thought J’Dal was a piece about the early civil rights era set in the American South.
I was wrong on that account.
But first, a break to avoid spoilers.
Although the plot sounds a lot like a Saturday D&D game session, this game is not a simple translation from dice and miniatures to interactive fiction. What stands out about this piece is that the idea of a “party” of adventurers is preserved (as in “Don’t split the party!”) despite IF being an intrinsically single player activity.
Conversation, both active and passive on the part of the player, brings out this group aspect of the game. The dynamic of only one character being able to see well in the dark forces this interaction, as she must tell her team what she sees and she has to seek help or explanations from each of them according to their speciality. Thankfully, this is one case where the light source mechanic actually complements the process of story telling.
It is nice to see a D&D adaptation that does not focus so much on the mechanics as the story and character interaction.
The first scenes provide a quick but adequate societal backdrop, which explains the existence of this party, and how they relate to each other. The interpersonal relationships are further refined in conversations throughout the game.
This was a nicely paced game, which allows the player to do some clever things with minimal frustration.
The game handles lighting rules well and does a lot with conversation, which must be particularly tricky considering that it’s not the usual one-to-one, but one-to-group. I did encounter some minor issues that relate to scope, but nothing that harmed the game experience.
This is a well-edited work with minimal bugs.