Review – Temperamentum

This is a lightly implemented parser game written in Adrift. I found gameplay impossible without the walkthrough, and the walkthrough itself contains errors. I bailed after about fifteen minutes, so my evaluation is limited. This is one of those games that I think a lot of reviewers would have summarily skipped: no instructions to players, about, credits, help, or hints. Standard responses. Minimal Descriptions. Lack of Proofing.

There is the briefest frame story around what I suppose are a series of dream sequences, each taking as a theme one of the four humors. Just an observation: why does IF so frequently make sets like this a central theme? The seven colors of the rainbow (Rainbow Bridge, The Wand, The Cube In The Cavern), the four elements (Domestic Elementalism, The Cube In The Cavern), and the four humors (Temperamentum)?

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

I don’t see why this author went through the effort of implementing this game in a parser, when so many of the possible actions that a player will take will meet with unhelpful responses: default replies, empty descriptions, or messages that block the attempted action. For example, there is pond. It is fair to anticipate that players will try to do some typical things with a body of water:

Pond
A small pond has formed here. The water is cool to the touch. A large ancient tree lies to the south.

> enter pond
You can't go inside the water!

> swim
I did not understand the word "swim".

> drink
Drink what?

> drink water
You can't drink the water!

Partial points for understanding water as the pond, but if the players actions are blocked, I would have preferred just a touch more of an explanation about why: In the pond uninviting, murky, and buzzing with mosquitoes?

The first place I ran into a problem was in the village, where there is a distinguished man and several baby-toting women. The women are written off immediately as having nothing to say, and while I guessed by process of elimination that I needed to talk to the man, the game is looking for a very specific phrasing to get the ball rolling. I never would have hit it without a look at the walkthrough:

Village
Huts line the outskirts of the encampment. In the center is a small bonfire. The forest opens up to the southeast. Standing next to the bonfire is a older but distinguished looking man. Outside the huts, there are some women holding their babies.

> talk to man
I'm not sure who you are referring to.

> talk to distinguished
I'm not sure who you are referring to.

> talk to man
I'm not sure who you are referring to.

> ask man about women
The chief doesn't appear to understand you.

> talk to chief
The chief ignores you.

> greet chief
I did not understand the word "greet".

> say "bob" to chief
The chief ignores you.

> say "hello" to chief
The chief ignores you.

> say "hi" to chief
The chief ignores you.

> say hi to chief
"Molimo. Need molimo."

> ask chief about molimo
"Need molimo. Elder has died. That means forest is asleep. Need to wake up forest with molimo. Molimo is high up, very high. Need molimo."

> ask women about molimo
The women doesn't appear to understand you.

Most of the parser-based games I have played have been based on inform, and maybe the tool influences how authors choose to implement dialogs — is “say” the usual idiom for Adrift games? I am used to “talk to [person]” or ask/tell [person] about [something]”. I have seen “say [something]” used in games, but that introduces the need to parse whatever is said. In this case, I would have thought that hello would have been equivalent to hi. Also, since I’m not aware that there is a strong convention about using quotation marks, I would have expected “hi” to be equivalent to hi.

Following along in the walkthrough, the next thing the player is supposed to ask the chief about is the vials. What vials? The word “chief” does not appear in any description, but it at least shows up in a response, and I guess we are supposed to infer his rank because he is “distinguished”. However, “vial” comes totally out of the blue. It looks like the walkthrough and game files got out of synch at some point in editing.

The same can be said of map directions – at one point, the walkthrough says to move in a direction that does not exist. Taken alone, not a big deal, but it’s obvious that neither the game nor the walkthrough have received much effort in terms of proofreading.

I threw my hands up and moved to the next game when I came across this final bit of parser fun:

Click to enlarge.

Evaluation

Story: 3

Voice: 2

Play: 1

Polish: 3

Technical: 3

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 2.4

Transcript: temperScript

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