Reviews by DavyB

Review for Aunts and Butlers
04 Feb 2017
This game was written for IFComp 2006 (http://versificator.net/). It is loosely based on the PG Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster characters, with the player in the role of Bertie Wooster, here called Ampersand. I particularly liked the butler stepping in from time to time to prevent catastrophic player mistakes or provide hints.

The game achieved a very respectable 16th place (of 43 entries) in IFComp 2006 but feels as if it has the potential to be much higher. One factor is that the game was rushed to meet the IFComp deadline (as mentioned in the hint system). This meant that it had an implementation issue when submitted (http://www.versificator.net/blog/). Perhaps more importantly, however, is that the second half of the game doesn’t seem as strong as the first. It might have been more in keeping with the Wodehouse theme, for example, if the second half had been located in a country house (reached by train for a weekend visit), instead of a surreal, text-adventure oriented, underground world. Similarly, there is opportunity to integrate hints/help from the butler with the separate hint system provided. It would also be better to remove the one unwinnable position in the game (I fell into the trap! ...so pick up all items when you first see them!!).

Overall, however, this is still an excellent game, with Robin’s usual high standard of writing, comic touch, and appropriately pitched puzzles. Another five stars!

Review for The Xylophoniad
27 Jan 2017
This is another high quality, award-winning game from Robin Johnston. It is of similar length and difficulty to Detectiveland and Draculaland. Unlike those games, however, Xylophoniad has a traditional text adventure format, with command line input. It is again built with Robin’s own game engine, Versificator, and he has also provided the very impressive artwork for the game cover and the game characters.

Being more familiar with Quest, I was initially confused by Versificator’s requirement that object names be given in full, with anything not recognised receiving a default response. That means, for example, when playing the game as Xylophone, and typing “x Xylo,” the response is “Nothing special,” rather than giving the player description or indicating that the name has not been recognised.

Once tuned in, however, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the game and particularly appreciated its humour and general creativity. For example, the concept of a two-eyed cyclops named Bicyclops is comic genius! I was also grateful that ‘death’ didn’t mean ‘death’ in the game, as the player can simply type “undo” afterwards!!

Overall, there is much to like, especially if you have an interest in Greek history and/or legends so I suggest you jump and explore.

Review for Draculaland
26 Jan 2017
Draculaland has the same look and feel as Robin's IFComp 2016 winner, Detectiveland. Input is via touchable/clickable buttons and a split screen separates the unfolding story from a control panel in which available operations and associated objects are displayed. Draculaland has been put into the ‘horror’ stream but ‘comedy’ is perhaps its most dominant characteristic.

It is of a similar high standard to Detectiveland, with Draculaland perhaps having a slightly clearer story and some puzzles that are a bit more challenging. Again, there is a comprehensive hint system when needed.

Overall, this is another outstanding adventure from Robin Johnston, and one that I highly recommend.

Review for Detectiveland
25 Jan 2017
Winning IFComp 2016, is probably sufficient reason for anyone to play this game! As might be expected, it is very well conceived, designed and implemented. What particularly appealed to me was
(a) its high standard of writing and smart humour;
(b) its afternoon length, split into three detective cases (IFComp games should be playable in 2 hours);
(c) its look and feel, including the music and sound effects (composed by the author), and the use of an old typewriter font; and
(d) the challenge of the puzzles, which should be decipherable by most players, with a little effort! For anyone stuck, there is also a comprehensive hierarchical hint system which effectively provides a full walkthrough for the game.

It was also very impressive that the author had written his own game engine.

Initially, I did struggle with the interface, which presents a half-screen control panel in which every operation is performed by touching or clicking on a button…no typing is involved. The only operations available are the ones presented as the game proceeds, which makes it necessary to monitor the control panel carefully…new operations may pop up or disappear at any time. I got the hang of it in the end but felt I was spending rather too much time staring at the control panel rather than following the story.

Overall, however, this is probably the easiest 5 stars I have had to award since returning to text adventures last year. Excellent!

16 Jan 2017
I’ve played two versions of this game: the original and the recently updated version. They are essentially the same in content but not in feel. The original relied heavily on the default object description “Nothing out of the ordinary” to a point where it was distracting for some players. This was pointed out in comments and reviews. The revised version addresses this issue, allowing the game to be better appreciated.

The House of Dom Orre is a fantasy mystery, where the player is trapped alone in a house, trying to find out what has happened to its owner, Professor Dom Orre. As well as escaping, the player has to avoid a ghost, locate nine (traditional text-adventure) treasures, and solve puzzles on the way.

Overall, the game is very well designed, with a feel, scale and level of challenge similar to Peter’s other games. So, for me, that means an excellent experience and yet another adventure that I can confidently recommend to others!

Review for The Enchanted Glade
16 Jan 2017
This is the first of what is currently a Cornish trilogy from Peter Edwards. It was published in 2012, followed by The Piskie in 2013 and Mermaid Bay in 2014. All evoke feelings of what it is like to be in Cornwall, through the range of outdoor and underground locations used, pictures of actual locations and subtle sound effects. I’d recommend tackling these games in their order of writing, though perversely I worked in the opposite order! The Enchanted Glade starts in what was an actual hotel in Cawsand (the Old Ship Inn) and ranges over a wide variety of locations in a relatively compact space overall. As with all Peter Edwards’ games, attention to detail and careful searching are important to completing the game though it is possible visit almost all locations with very little effort. Overall, this is an excellent game, in an excellent series, and I strongly recommend it.

Review for The Piskie
14 Jan 2017
This is yet another excellent game from Peter Edwards. Like Mermaid Bay and the Enchanted Glade it is set in Cornwall and includes photographs of what appear to be actual locations. Overall, it has an outdoors, whimsical, good-humoured feel. Like Peter’s other games, it is well designed, well written, and offer puzzles that are challenging but manageable…as long as you take care to examine each location thoroughly! Being up on the site for over three years, there are also many comments on the trickier aspects of the game, providing ample clues for those who run out of ideas. Well done!

Review for Curse!
08 Jan 2017
It is a pleasure to have played yet another excellent game from Peter Edwards. As usual, it is well designed over a relatively small number of locations and indeed there is no need for a map in this case. It can also be completed relatively quickly, depending, of course, on how long it takes you to solve the puzzles! Even knowing that Peter’s games involve thorough searching, I have to admit that I struggled in a few places. The game has now been up for over 4 years, however, so other players had similar difficulties, meaning that the response comments from Peter covered all I needed to know. My one regret is that I didn’t try a bit harder before sneaking a peak at these additional clues!!

Review for Small.
11 Sep 2016
I can only agree with the other reviewers! It's a wonderful game!! As I moved from locatation to location I was a bit concerned that I might be missing items or clues, as I hadn't searched thoroughly. However, I needn't have worried. Father Thyme looks after players. There are no unwinnable positions, no sudden deaths and indeed no deaths at all. Just my sort of design and a great experience overall. Well done!

Review for Woo Goes Further
03 Sep 2016
The process of playing this game felt like an adventure in its own right! I was lured in by rcsjr1951 (aka Cyril) who had become stuck. The author (longshot) was nowhere to be seen, possibly discouraged by having no response (comments or reviews) in the two years that the game had been up on the site. rcsjr1951 had been playing for a while so it took me a few days to catch up (with his help). The journey ahead looked tough, with the possibility of ultimate failure, when we were rescued! Sarah4 appeared, caught up quickly, and shot past to finish the game, nursing us through as well.

For me, inside the game felt more like a 4-star than a 5-star experience. After finishing, however, I've mellowed! There are rough edges in the implementation, but my main quibble was that I had to restart the game several times when trapped in unwinnable positions. The game is fussy about the order in which certain actions are performed, with no clues or warnings about these restrictions. On reflection, however, I now think that most of these may be glitches and perhaps would have been fixed by the author if he/she had had feedback at the right time. The game is of epic proportions so problems are inevitable among the many characters, objects and locations involved. There is certainly a solid 5-star game at its core. The game might also be better if it used the Quest map facility because of the effort needed to draw the map.

Overall, however, even as it stands, this is great entertainment, and I hope someone is able to get a message through to longshot to let him know that his work has finally been recognised.

Review for Thyme
24 Aug 2016
This is my third Father Thyme game. In principle, it is the first that he implemented but the original was extended because some suggested it was too short. That’s a pity, as there is room for great games of all sizes, as 9.05 has shown. Perhaps it would have been better to post the revised game separately and invite comparison? Certainly, some of the reviewers of the first game seem to have enjoyed it and, on the ‘less is more’ principle, there is a danger that adding more material to a game can weaken it. From the reviews, it also sounds as if the end has been changed and some material lost. So, my first suggestion is to dust off the original game and repost it!

My second recommendation is to improve the presentation of the game. As other reviewers have noted, the ideas, puzzles, humour, and game design are all excellent, but the implementation and word-processing have issues. Some polish here should ensure a consistent 5-star rating. I will award a 4.5, which conveniently rounds up!

Review for The Zen Garden
17 Aug 2016
I played the Zen Garden through to ‘completion’ a month ago but decided to work through it again before putting in a review, as I’d missed some of the puzzles, including the maze. Going through a second time, I still found much to enjoy, as I could step back and appreciate it more, and also found a few elements that I’d missed on the first pass.

As others have said, this is a challenging game, and I was only able to complete it by looking at several of the hints given to others who had run into difficulty. Because of the challenge, it was very satisfying in cases where no hint was needed. :)

There is so much to like about this game! It is very well written and tightly designed across a relatively small number of locations. The use of sound in a few specific places, especially the collection of the pottery, was very effective and significantly added to the overall experience.

There seem to be quite a few red herrings in the game, judging by the items I had at the end, but perhaps I missed a role for them? The only herring that delayed me was <spoiler>a suggestion that there were resources to make tea at the beginning, when in reality it was only towards the end that I had enough knowledge to actually complete the task</spoiler>.

The game is also very well implemented and, so far, for me, is the best I have found on the site. It is particularly impressive that this appears to be the first game from Privateer. After a gap of nearly three years, perhaps there is another in the pipeline? ...despite the considerable effort that is clearly needed to reach this standard!

10 Aug 2016
This is really just a game proposal. It's interesting and fun as far as it goes so why not work on it? As a sample, it would have felt more satisfactory if the initial objective had been achieved!

Review for Fakémon
10 Aug 2016
A game which seems to be saying "I don't understand the appeal of Pokémon." I rather agree but to be fair you do need to construct the game properly. If you did, I suspect it could actually have some appeal, messing up your message!

09 Aug 2016
An interactive story that's outstanding in all respects. In particular, the interaction dialogue is excellent and the user interface beautifully designed, with great use of graphics and sound. I can't think of a single improvement. Well done!

Review for Vaughan RPG
08 Aug 2016
This seems more like 'work in progress' than a complete game. It is short, straightforward, has sudden endings, and the scoring system is under developed. It would be a good idea, for example, to explain the score at the end against what is possible.

I liked the use of the map but as the game is short and mostly linear it is probably not needed at the moment.

One issue I noticed was that items to be eaten, when taken, no longer offer 'eat' as a verb; 'use' is there instead but has no effect. This means 'eat' has to be typed directly.

Review for The Watchkeepers
02 Aug 2016
Having just played, and greatly enjoyed "The Tree" by Father Thyme, I noticed that his latest game was sitting without comments or reviews. From the discussion on the Forum it looks as if it had a bad start because of a layout problem, which presumably put off those looking out for high quality new material. The problem has now been fixed and it is my priviledge (and responsibility!) to provide a first review.

Well, the bottom line is that this is an excellent game and I strongly recommend it. Like "The Tree" it is a strong science fiction story, worked out in detail, with puzzles along the way. There are connected areas to explore but progress is mostly linear, which makes the puzzles easier. The game has been designed to prevent the player from doing anything that would cause a problem later on, or kill the player, so everything can be tried with confidence.

It was a joy to open up each new part of the game, with a head-spinning finish that I'm still not sure I fully understand! I found a few little wordprocessing problems in the text, which I'll pass on, but overall this is an outstanding adventure. Thank you for making it available!

Review for The tree
01 Aug 2016
Sarah4 has already provided a good review of this game, and I agree with all the points she made. For me, it felt like reading an engaging story, slowing up from time to time to think through the next puzzle, but keeping up a good pace. The story and puzzles worked very well together, providing an overall excellent experience. Well done! ...and great to see there are seven more games to try!!

Review for Zombolocaust
01 Jul 2016
You are under threat from zombies, with the goal being to take decisions that lead to a end-point where you avoid death. You are also scored on your decision-making in terms of ‘heroics’, ‘cautiousness’, ‘smarts’ and ‘aggression’.

This adventure is excellent for many reasons, including (i) it is very well written; (ii) it is very well implemented—I particularly liked the use of checkpoints to allow a quick return to decision points that have led to death; (iii) it is nicely illustrated—Peter123’s own artistic work?; (iv) despite the topic, it is suitable for players of pretty much any age—calling the zombies ‘rotters’ sets the tone!; (v) it is relatively short, so it can easily be replayed to explore the alternative paths available.

The game seems set up for a sequel but perhaps after two years that's not going to happen.

Review for Photopia
15 Jun 2016
As a text adventure winning first place in the 1998 Interactive Fiction Competition, this deserves attention! It is surprising, therefore, that there aren't more reviews/comments posted so far? This is perhaps because it is more literature than an adventure, and has very few puzzles, and can't easily be classified as a game, as it is mostly linear with a single outcome. Although my personal preference is for puzzle-oriented adventures, this adventure is very well written, uses some interesting techniques and is competently constructed. On that basis, it gets five stars from me!

14 Jun 2016
I really enjoyed playing this game! It was my second by Peter Edwards and the first he posted to the site. It is very well written, tightly scripted across a relatively small number of locations and has strong puzzle-solving content. There are three clear stages to the game, with a piece of paper picked up at the start of each stage, encouraging progress in poetic terms! It was a bit inconvenient that each had exactly the same name but that's a very minor quibble.

In this first game, Peter establishes his 'style' in terms the look of the game in a reasonably large handwriting font, accompanied by beautiful illustrations for selected scenes. He also included the Quest control panel though it wasn't necessary to use it, and indeed has been dropped in his more recent adventures.

The puzzles are sometimes demanding but you can, like me, dip into the associated comments to pick up clues and, in some cases, straight solutions! This game is perhaps the recommended place to start the sequence of Peter Edwards' games, and is a highly recommended game overall.

Review for HMS Victory
13 Jun 2016
Like all Peter Edwards’ games, this is a ‘fantasy’, but has been labelled ‘historical’ because it located on HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship. The aim is to locate special objects belonging to Nelson and return them to his cabin to release the souls of his ghostly crew. The game is decorated with pictures taken by Peter on a visit to the ship. Unusually, the pictures also contribute to the game. The connection, however, is not as tight as might be expected, with many objects in the pictures producing the response “I can’t see that.” Indeed, as demonstrated by the first reviewer, it is possible to complete the game without using the pictures at all and, presumably, just guess what might be in each room.

This early game is shorter and rather more straightforward than Peter’s later productions but is nonetheless very enjoyable, enhanced by the pictures and sound effects. Having played, I would definitely be interested in seeing the actual ship. Perhaps there is an opportunity here to encourage an interest in text adventures by inviting a link to the game from the museum website? …assuming there isn’t too much artistic license in the design of the game!

Overall, although this game is probably not as tightly tied to its locations as his more recent offerings, is less detailed in the interactions available, and is only partially successful in its use of picture clues, it is still very well executed, with a strong introduction, good sense of humour, and a very pleasing appearance throughout. There are a few unexpected instant deaths but the game is simple enough to return to those positions rapidly without any prior ‘save’.

Review for Mermaid Bay
08 Jun 2016
This was my first Peter Edwards game and was surprised to find myself stuck after a few minutes. I’d been around the obvious locations, looked at everything and found nothing of significance! I had to resort to the comments to understand where I was going wrong. It is not enough to look at everything, searching is important as well, and repeatedly following up on any new items identified in the replies. Also, it is necessary to look out for items that are implied rather than named directly. For example, if it says you are in a “simply furnished room” then “look at furnishings” may reveal more.

With that knowledge, this game is excellent! It looks well and I enjoyed the sound effects, though I did turn the sound down when serious thinking was required! There didn’t appear to be any traps leading to unwinnable positions, which is good, and only one opportunity to die, which is well flagged in advance. The puzzles are reasonably difficult but that is one of the attractions of Peter’s games. Overall, it was clear why the previous reviewers had all awarded 5 stars, and I can only agree with their judgement. I’m looking forward to working my through all eight of Peter’s text adventures on the site, making sure to take time to savour each one!

Review for The Lost Scroll
07 Jun 2016
This is the 8th Quest text adventure from Peter Edwards in the last 3-4 years, with a 2-year gap back to his previous game, Mermaid Bay. All so far have been beautifully constructed and this one is no exception.

Peter commented in 2014 that he “…really must try to make the puzzles harder...” and has succeeded! I therefore recommend starting with an earlier game if you are new to the collection. That will help you get used to Peter’s style and allow you to take advantage of the many additional clues in the surrounding discussion.

The Lost Scroll is a pure text adventure, meaning that there are no hyperlinks, no control panel, and no map. There are, however, a few pictures to add atmosphere and these work well. The general appearance of the adventure is excellent though I would prefer continuous scrolling rather than text being deleted when some pictures are presented.

The adventure itself is written to a very high standard, with subtle clues woven into the text. There is a simple clear storyline, which is reinforced as the adventure proceeds, providing an engaging and very satisfactory experience overall. For me, the decision to leave out situations where the player can die, or worse still, end up in an unwinnable state, was very welcome.

The Lost Scroll may be Peter’s best game so far, but I have five more to play before I can offer that conclusion. Well done!

Review for 9:05
18 May 2016
This is a short adventure, and although well written and competently implemented, has a rather ordinary storyline up to the final reveal. The twist, however, is so clever that most will want to replay at least one more time and gives the adventure a five-star quality overall. I’d welcome more stories like this, although I’m sure it is very difficult to find such fiendish plots. Well done!

13 Apr 2016
As the author’s profile picture suggests, this is a game to take slowly, perhaps over a glass or two of wine. I, unfortunately, rushed too much, without the recommended alcohol support, and so occasionally ran into trouble. For example, I didn’t read the (relatively long) game description thoroughly before starting and missed some useful points, such as using the “help object” command. Also, because of hyper-links, I found it difficult to have the discipline of reading the surrounding text before clicking, which is a pity, as the writing is excellent. The game design is also outstanding, and I completely support the author’s claim that it is “tough but fair.” This is based on me playing in ‘chicken’ mode, which seemed to protect me from some problems but by no means all. For example, the game happily let me eat or destroy items that were essential for a later stage! It meant that some experimentation was needed, with a traditional ‘save’ beforehand. This is where the game tested the limitations of Quest. Often parts of the map were obscured when restored, and the game seemed to run more slowly. It was helpful that I was often left "close to death," rather than being killed outright, giving me a chance to type 'undo'. Overall, this is a well-crafted game, with relatively few wrinkles considering its substantial size, and I strongly recommend it.