Review – Rainbow Bridge

This is a short and sweet parser game built around a central puzzle. The goal of the puzzle is presented immediately and the player is guided through the first step towards that goal in a sort of tutorial. The first few commands in the game are essentially overridden with railroaded conversation to provide exposition. I appreciated the clear instructions about what to do, but thought that there was just a tad too much handholding in these initial scenes.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

The task before the main character, the angel Gabriel, is to gather the colors of the rainbow into a scepter by touching that scepter to objects of each color. Given the environment, this seems like quite a task: there are only two locations in the game, the one-room cabin and the outdoors. Neither location is implemented in much depth, and after picking out one or two items with appropriate colors, the player may be driven to desperate measures like looking under carpets, pushing furniture around, etc. in search of objects with the necessary colors.

Here, the game commits a sin: some of the items necessary to win the game are not described.

In the introduction, the player learns that the angel’s boyfriend, Demeter, would be glad to help out, if needed. He’s clearly the built-in hint system. After ransacking the cabin and outdoors for color objects, the player will come to the conclusion that there is nothing left to do but to talk to him. Some players will strong independent streaks may indeed take a very long time before knuckling under and consulting him.

But Demeter isn’t really a hint system — he’s a necessary step in the game. I’m not sure the bedside table and lamp exist without talking to him. The player will come to this game with a false expectation – that everything important is visible and that talking to Demeter is optional; in fact, just the opposite is true.

I realize that this was a supposed to be a relatively lighthearted and simple game, but complexity tends to snowball in parser games, and by having to track down seven colored objects, the game world will need to have some degree of complexity, even if it is limited to two locations.

For example, the outdoor location is cold, and we’re told it recently snowed, but snow itself is not implemented. Later in the game, we need to find something green outside. If the player names grass, there is text to the effect that under the snow, they find some grass. The snow is mentioned but not implemented and the grass is implemented but not mentioned in the scene description. Not having snow, ground, etc., implemented would lead most players to not expect grass. If snow were present, the player might also have the option of digging, if the author enabled that somewhat non-standard verb.

Having Demeter around makes this game winnable, but limits how clever the player can feel for having figured things out. This also raises a question of internal consistency: how is Demeter, a mere mortal, is so darn smart? Gabriel is an angel, knows about magic scepters and presumably has been around the block a few times, but Demeter literally armchair quarterbacks advice as he hu-mansplains how to power up the scepter.

Gripes aside, I appreciate that the author intended to give the player every chance of reaching the winning conclusion of this game. I would suggest that adding some implementation depth and having Demeter truly serve a hint function would improve the game.

Evaluation

Story: 4. The story is light — really an excuse to kick off the puzzle, but the characters have a relationship, some dialog, and there’s even a quick epilogue.

Voice: 5

Play: 6

Polish: 6. I don’t recall spelling or grammar issues. The main issue affecting polish and play was under implementation.

Technical: 5.

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 5.2

Transcripts: rainboze prescient

2 thoughts on “Review – Rainbow Bridge”

  1. Hmm, I managed to complete the game without using the hint system. [Spoilers ahead.] You discover the lamp by looking at the book (which automatically starts a conversation with Demeter, but you’re not really using the hint system). And when I played the game, the snow was implemented. Both ‘touch snow’ and ‘x snow’ worked, and the latter command mentioned the grass and some trees. Since there hasn’t been an update to the game, it’s strange that these commands didn’t work on your system.

  2. Hi Karl, thanks for the comment. I’d have to compare the transcripts to see how the actions and responses differed, but my guess would be that some of this may be related to sequence of play. It could be that certain commands become available only in a specific context, like while a scene is playing, when a player is carrying something or when some earlier condition has been satisfied. I suppose it could also just be a matter of slightly different phrasing — maybe the parser recognized your commands but not mine? Regarding grass and trees, I also saw them mentioned (or I wouldn’t know about them), but if I recall correctly, they were not implemented as game objects, e.g., a backdrop or more concretely, a fixed-in place thing.

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