IF Comp 2012 – Castle Adventure

Well, at least you know where you stand with Castle Adventure. It’s an adventure, and there’s a castle. At least, I am given to understand that there is eventually a castle if you playing, but I don’t have the patience to put that to the test.

After a couple exchanges with the parser, I think I can see where this is going. I’m in the middle of a forest that lacks description. Examining myself, I find that I lack a description other than the default. Predictably, if I go in any direction but the intended one, I hit barriers. Finally, a hut. It’s locked. A bit more to the east, alligators (in a moat (surrounding a castle (containing the princess))). Now we have plot – find the key to the hut, figure out a way into the castle, and wing it from there.

Sure, this plot has been done before in every form of game and story, and it’ll be done again, and with the right treatment and new spin, it could still be the basis for a fine game. However, this piece does not make the effort to find a new angle or at least create a work that is so well implemented that it is a pleasure to retread the old plot.

Nothing annoys me more than having my time wasted, and wandering in a bland forest makes me see red. I did peek at the hints after playing the game, and I see that I would eventually have found a way to find the key to get to the hut to get to castle to rescue the princess, etc., but I could not work up the interest to try to play this one out.

If the author wants to revise this game, I’d suggest first playing a boat load of recent interactive fiction to get a sense of where the field has gone since Adventure International days. Then, I’d read through Aaron Reed’s book just to get an idea of what can be done. At that point, the author might want to ditch this plot or at least come at it from a different angle, but that’s entirely up to his taste. Whatever the plot, the next steps are implement deep, beta test extensively, and and learn what you can from reviews that come back after releasing them game. I, for instance, will never ever ever attempt to incorporate robo-rally into a work of interactive fiction again. I promise.

I just wrote a cranky review of Valkyrie, and I don’t want to slip into full curmudgeon mode, so I’ll give the author thumbs up for perseverance in realizing a game that he had originally written in 2002; that’s some dedication.

Story:  2

At least it was clear what the story was and I didn’t wake up disoriented and amnesiac, wondering what I was supposed to do.

Voice: 2

The bare bones voice of the parser, not much else.

Play: 2

There isn’t much to say about the portion of the game that I played. I moved around, I hit barriers, and I recognized puzzles that needed solving.

Polish: 2

Implementation is minimal, but I didn’t catch any spelling or grammatical issues in the sparse text. The game does provide a help function for those new to IF commands, which is a nice touch.

Technical: 3

The portion of the game that I played does not use advanced techniques, but as far as I can tell nothing was broken. Writing even a minimal game in Inform requires some effort, so the baseline in this category is around a 2.

Average: 2.2

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