B.J. Best

Reviews by B.J. Best

Review for Spectrum
16 Dec 2002
A very ambitious game, complete with a large map and excellent descriptions of rooms and objects. The spectrum motif is used nicely throughout the game.

There are essentially two parts to this game: collecting treasures in the maze, and then dealing with what happens once you collect all of the treasures (I don't want to give away spoilers). Collecting the treasures isn't very difficult. I found drawing a map to be tremendously helpful.

I found dealing with the post-treasure-collecting part to be frustrating. The game promises that while you're collecting treasures a deeper conflict will present itself, but I found this aspect of the game to be rather underdeveloped, feeling tacked on, and it deviates from the central rainbow theme, which made the game enjoyable up to this point. I think there's plenty of rooms in the maze where the setup for the final showdown could be built upon, and I'd prefer to see it involve only the spectrum concept.

This leads me to my other big concern. In order to beat the game, you need to take a few objects which aren't listed in the object window but rather are in the room description. Now, admittedly I'm opposed to this way of finding objects from the beginning. But asking a player to wander around an approximately 40-room maze, with each room very well-described and featuring, on average, at least one potentially takeable or otherwise interactable item per room, and then asking them to figure out exactly what they're supposed to take seems unfair to me. I'll even allow the author to "hide" two items that are related to the "deeper mystery," but the one item that gets you out of the looping hallway seems very arbitrary. If the author wishes to not put the objects in the object window, I think which objects the player needs to take should be made a little more obvious in the game's storyline.

One other thing about these objects: once you drop off the treasures, you lose all of your keys. One of these objects is behind a locked door that you can't get to once you drop off your treasures. I had to restart once I figured out what the gist of the endgame was, which was very frustrating.

Ok, I know I've spent a lot of time critiquing the game, but on the whole it is very well done. The idea is solid, but I feel the post-treasure-hint gameplay could use a little tweaking. Still, I think people will find this game quite enjoyable. I rate it 4 stars (good).

Review for Mysts Demo
13 Dec 2002
This game definitely holds promise, although right now it is rather short.

The best part about this game are its descriptions of rooms, objects, and actions. They are full, complete descriptions that help give the player a sense of time and place. They draw the player into the story and make it engaging. On the flip side, I notice several typos/misspellings along the way, and that really detracts from the immersion.

The plot is very simple at this point but it works. At least you know what you're supposed to be doing. Not much in the way of puzzles, either, but I am hoping that will be remedied in the expansion.

The moods (a.k.a. feelings) are annoying as objects in the inventory. I think a better implementation would be to have "mood" as a status variable, and in the status variable window it could say something like "You are currently #mood#." Then, instead of using the moods as objects, you just have to change the variable when the mood changes. Will your mood ever affect anything? If not, it might be more trouble than it's worth.

This game definitely has potential, and it will be nice to see a larger version. Right now it rates 3 stars (OK).

12 Dec 2002
The utter lack of story and rational progression of events really hampers this game. What are you trying to do? Where are you trying to go? The game never answers these questions for the player because I believe the author hasn't thought of answers at this point.

Talking to different characters is fine, but it really doesn't do anything for you. There are really only two puzzles in the game, and both involve the characters. The first is to retrieve a part for Washu, which is very simple, and the second is Washu's test in the cave, which is so utterly pointless and simply trial and error will let you prevail.

The map is not particularly well-designed and sometimes counter-intuitive (how does going east and then north from the front yard put you back in the front yard?). The duplicity of locations in the object window (so that you can "go to" most places, in addition to just going in the appropriate direction) is annoying.

The descriptions of rooms, objects, and characters and the dialogue are serviceable but certainly could be embellished.

Ultimately, the author needs to figure out some goals for the game and then communicate them to the player. There's not much fun in pointless wandering around.

Review for Black Out
12 Dec 2002
The theory behind this game is okay but the execution is a little flawed. The main issue I have is that once you find a flashlight in your dark home, the game tells you to use it on other things. However, there are also a few places where you simply need to USE FLASHLIGHT in order to proceed.

Beyond that, there isn't much to this game, and the puzzles are very easy. The descriptions of most objects and rooms are serviceable (I mean, what do you want, it's dark), but certainly could be rendered more fully. You can not use the flashlight on several objects in the game, which got to be annoying.

I give this game two stars (poor) as the map is a decent but small representation of a house, and the plot, while simple, is logical and makes sense. But there's really not much to this one.

Review for House
12 Dec 2002
This game would be a two-star except that there is absolutely no point to it. There is nothing for you to do to win the game. By looking at it with QDK, you are supposed to kill someone in your house and then bury the body (how you're supposed to figure that out, I don't know), but unfortunately the room where the victim is located is locked and the script to open the door to that room is empty.

All of this notwithstanding, it's never made clear what you're supposed to be doing in the first place. You're just wandering around a house and its grounds. Most of the items and locations in the game serve no point.

The other major problem with this game is that at times you have to guess (or look at the ASL) to determine what the game wants you to type. You must TURN SWITCH UP to get out of the garage, for example, and you can only use that command.

So no plot plus arcane commands in places equals 1 star (appalling).

Review for Green Light
12 Dec 2002
Overall this game is well-written, and obviously time and care has been put into writing the descriptions of the rooms and objects and devising the puzzles. Some of the puzzles are better than others, though. The Figari bread one is rather inspired; finding the next card to open the next door and searching each drawer of a cupboard are rather dull to me.

One of my biggest concerns is the time period when this particular piece of IF takes place. Castles and monsters and giants all seem to point to that mythical "long-ago" time where many adventures take place, but yet we have mechanically advanced things like doors that require keycards and a grain hopper. It wold seem more logical to stick with the "long-ago" timeframe, maybe replace the grain hopper with a mill, and do something else about the keycards (Magic words? Brute strength? The keycards seem particularly anachronistic.).

Another issue I have is your stance toward the 8-eyed monster. "It horrifies and chills you to the bone," the game tells you, but yet the monster, while ugly, is very amiable, and somehow you have no problem striking up a conversation with it. Seeing as you ultimately persuade him to step aside, I don't find him that horrifying. I think some sort of goofy, almost dopey monster might work better here. When I think horrifying monsters, my immediate reaction is to kill/maim/disable them, not cook them dinner! :-)

The commands were logical and intuitive to me, which is always important.

This is certainly one of the better games in the archive, although the story is admittedly only half-told. I'm sure the expansion will definitely help make this a more complete gaming experience.

Review for Defenders of Gondor
12 Dec 2002
A small game based on Tolkein's works. There isn't much to this one; there's only a few rooms to visit and precious few things to do. The README file explains the goal of your quest, but it'd be nice if it was made clearer within the actual game.

That being said, this really is only a two-star game in terms of conception, design, and execution. Some problems I had were figuring out how, exactly to use the boat (USE BOAT is logical but does not work; USE BOAT TO CROSS RIVER takes a lot of guessing and/or cheating by looking at the ASL). Also, once you're across the river, there's no way to get back to Minis Tirith to use the password the captain gives you to get into the city.

The game earns three stars (OK), however, for its use of pictures of every room (albethem low-res; are they from some old video game?), its pleasant opening music, and its reasonably decent descriptions of rooms and objects.

Still, this is a five-minute game, ten if you can't figure out what exactly to type to use the boat. The plot is very thin and the world is small. Ideally I'd give this game two-and-a-half stars (between poor and ok), but no such option exists. The idea and the author both hold promise, though. Simply, more depth is needed for most aspects of the game.

Review for Forgoten
12 Dec 2002
Do you like nonsenical cause and effect? Do you like warping around to different places for no apparent reason? Do you like objects that have no description? Do you like misspelled words? If so, then "Forgoten" [sic] is for you.

Everyone else may as well skip it. Not very much makes sense is this game, and the plot is nonexistent. Who are you, where are you going, what are you doing, why do you keep warping around? The game does have a vaguely sinister air about it but it is sorely underdeveloped.

The only reason I gave this game 2 stars (poor) rather than 1 (appalling) is that the author has spent some time developing a medium-sized world, and has put a little bit of effort into some scripting (the elevator works nicely, but why would there be an elevator in a otherwise normal home)?

Other than that, the main question I'm left with this game is: why? Why are their two dead, fused bodies in my parents' bed? Why does dropping a flashlight into a murky substance warp me to a house? Why does drinking the same said murky substance make me travel back in time? Why is there a reference to a magic tree when it is utterly unnecessary to the game? Why would anyone find this entertaining?

Review for The Legend of Cyrn
11 Dec 2002
The best aspect of this game is that it is very well-written. The room descriptions and character dialogue are well-done, with a good dose of wit. The plot is serviceable enough to move you along, although there's a lack of direction (i.e., what do you do next) once you get outside of the Great Scholarly Halls.

Some of the gameplay is a little more obtuse than it needs to be, I think. For example, once you complete one task for the Curator, you have to bug him again before he'll tell you what to do next... logically, it would all be part of one conversation. I am also not a fan of interacting with objects that are not listed in the object window unless the situation would logically demand it. It wouldn't be hard to add some books to the object window once you talk with the librarian so that you can then read them; the author could also easily add a dummy to the training room, although for my earlier experience in the library I knew to attack it anyway. Perhaps this is just my personal preference.

The game gets kinda buggy once you get to Vald Daen, but perhaps this will be addressed in the completed version.

All in all a good game, better than most out there. I hope the author is continuing to work on it, as it holds much promise.