Les méchants meurent… encore

After the French IF Comp, results, commentary and transcript were posted on the comp’s website.

Of the three games in that comp, I hadn’t gotten very far with Eric Forgeot’s Les méchants meurent au moins deux fois, so I looked through the transcripts to see how other people had gotten through it.  On second look, I would rate the game higher than previously, although still behind the other two games in the competition.

I had been stymied very early on because the equivalent of “open trap door with card” does not work, but “put card in trap door” releases it, and allows you open it. As I played onward, I hit a “TODO” in a room description, and later came to a point where I couldn’t find one of the items mentioned in the walkthrough.  It occurred to me that I might be playing an earlier version of the game, although the transcript said “release 1”. Comparing the serial numbers, I saw that my version was dated 2 December 2009, while the more complete transcript was dated 14 January 2010.

So, this evening, I downloaded the version that is currently on the comp website, dated 17 January 2010. In the version that I had used in evaluating the game for the comp, the walkthrough command had not been implemented, but a full walkthrough is now incorporated into the game. Additionally, the hints have been expanded, although they are still limited.

I do not believe it is possible to make it though the game without the walkthrough as some key steps require manipulating objects that are not mentioned anywhere. Some steps a merely difficult; for instance, [select to reveal text at an early point, you cannot proceed without breaking a giant light bulb (the kind you would find in a light house). Pushing it gets you killed, so you have to pull it. You can’t, though, because your hands are too slippery. You have to notice that the wood floor has some resin on it, and then touch the floor to make your hands tacky. Okay, fair enough. People usually don’t look at floor, walls, and ceiling, but at least they are present in the game. The next step, though, is to retrieve the bulb filament from the broken bulb. However, the filament is not mentioned in the text. I only found it because when I get to the end of my rope I type “get all” to see which items the parser knows about, but I don’t].

Playing along with the walkthrough later in the game, I saw the command “look at pants”. At this point in the game, there was no mention of pants. In fact, the PC is just described as wearing clothing, but not specific articles. It turns out that the pants in question are those of your adversary. I suppose his pants are assumed to be in the scene, but by that logic, “search left nostril” could be a reasonable thing to try.

It feels like the game still needs some play-testing to iron out some of the guess-the-object issues. The game could also be improved greatly by adding direction cues for exits.

Despite these issues with clueing and mechanics, the game does have a fun flavor, playing off the double-oh-seven stereotypes. As this is a much more complete game than the version that I’d previously evaluated, I would now give this game a rating of around 5/10.

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