No story, poor implementation, some parts are just plain nonsensical (needing to "open the shelf" springs to mind), obviously thrown together in all of about 5 minutes. Winning the game hinges on the ungrammatical command "move right desk" which reveals an air vent. Online version does not work as it should due to the use of timer scripts. If you insist on playing, download the desktop version.
I must have missed something vital that the other reviewers managed to find, because this game did nothing to engage me whatsoever. Surrealism is a hard thing to make work, and although I suspect the prose is aiming for mysterious and intriguing, it is far too purple and often borders on the incomprehensible.
It makes the mistake of thinking that "good" or "intelligent" writing depends on using lots of adjectives, obscure words, and non-sequiturs, and I can't help but feel some of the praise given in other reviews is a form of "I didn't really understand it so it must be good and it's just too smart for me." While being cryptic is a facet of some good art, one does not automatically beget the other and sometimes not making sense is just what it is- hurriedly scribbled nonsense.
The game begins by throwing you into the situation with no explanation which actually works quite well, the clay desert and strange bazaar are very interesting and evocative choices to set the scene. Like many IF games I have played, it seemed like it would be a flashback or dreamlike state to serve as a prologue. What happened instead, was the game continued in a similar vein for the entire course of play while getting more verbose, more disengaged with reality, and less interesting with each turn.
I think part of the problem stems from the lack of interactivity. It's not really a game, it's not even really a choose your own adventure because apart from a few abrupt chances to die, there's nothing you can do to change narrative paths or affect the outcome of the story. By making all actions dependent on selecting an option from a (limited) list of verbs on a (limited) number of highlighted objects, the author has required the player to just lawnmower through all the options, making moving forward in the game a chore rather than a path of discovery.
My QuestComp 2013 rating for this game is low because there is so little to the game. Whereas its QC competitor can be marked down on all sorts of things like implementation and bugs, there is nothing Worship The Pig can do to lose marks because there is nothing in it apart from narrative. It started off well, but I personally became disenchanted soon after.
Pest is, overall, quite a decent Quest game, with many things going for it. It is not without its flaws, some of which more extensive beta testing may have overcome, and others which come down to design decisions. I would venture however that an approaching competition deadline was a factor in this and a 2.0 release would probably be welcomed.
What I liked most about the game was the way in which your other senses really do play a part in interacting with the environment. As a rat, your eyesight is not the best and piecing together clues from your other senses to solve puzzles was enjoyable. The use of first person perspective in the writing was also extremely effective at capturing the isolation and confusion of the protagonist, as was the switching between the real and dreamed storylines.
I also disagree with Wade's review that "...the rat's constant ruminations on his fate while [the teaching] is going on are mostly at odds with the move to build suspense." I found the rat's internal monologue in the dream sequences well spaced and engaging, which is exactly what you want to be happening while also slipping in a tutorial about what commands are important in the game and how they work. Pressing the key for every line of dialogue works well in the places it happens as it builds suspense by making you actually read and anticipate what is going to happen, rather than shoving a text dump at you to skim over.
What I do agree with however, is the assertion about the modelling of the physical environment in certain areas. There are some occasions where a room is described from what I would call a human perspective, in that all objects are assumed to be easily reachable when in reality, a rat would have a lot of trouble seeing or reaching the objects described. The scenarios are about the rat's spacial relationship to these objects, so it can be jarring to "feel" an object but then not be able to "take" it because you can get past something between you and the object. I also got confused trying to climb up a lot of objects, as it was a verb that was implemented inconsistently.
In it's current state, there are a few bugs that while they don't stop you from being able to win, they make you question whether something has gone wrong and that's why you can't complete a puzzle- something which is very counter-productive for a player. I myself resorted a couple of times to look for hints by searching the code of the game and seeing what actions would trigger an event, because the bugs that I had encountered made me sure I had done something wrong.
I would have liked to have seen better verb implementation, like many Quest games there is an over-reliance on the "use object1 on object2" command, although there were many places in this game where it actually was appropriate. There were also a few descriptions and scenery objects that could have been bolstered up a bit, but even when the writing was brief, the content was quite satisfactory.
Overall I'd give the game a 6/10, I enjoyed playing it and appreciated its well mixed portions of puzzles and plot, but it definitely has potential to be improved upon with an updated release.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy the game while playing it - I did, and continued to enjoy it through to the end - but there were a few time when one too many bugs became a point of distraction.
The puzzles in this game are quite enjoyable and interesting, plus there are usually multiple objectives you could be seeking at any one moment if one of them becomes frustrating. The two stars I've awarded reflect this alone because unfortunately the game has little else going for it.
- The game is riddled with bugs, even simple things like not being able to pick up certain objects once you've dropped them, putting you in an unwinnable state. For me this was the final straw after trying my best to overlook the other shortcomings of the game.
- Synonyms for place and object names are almost nonexistent and having to exactly type things like "go to cottage (inside)" including the parentheses every time gets annoying since it should be unnecessary.
- The game doesn't recognise most verbs that should be quite simple, you can't put the milk bottle on the anvil, you have to "use milk on anvil." This is just one of countless examples I came across during the first half of the game.
- Implementation is very poor, the descriptions of each room and object are sparse enough as it is, yet there is no response programmed for almost everything you might try and do to the objects described. The author has thought through what the player needs to do and spent no time considering and programming for everything else the character might do.
- The lack of synonyms and bad implementation means that you can spend ages trying to do something that you know should work, only to find you could only use one badly phrased command to make that happen. I had more trouble figuring out the syntax the game wanted me to use than I did figuring out most of the puzzles.
- Story is almost nonexistent. This is a cheap shot to throw at a puzzle oriented game, but for a game that describes itself as comedy and fantasy, there was a distinct lack of either.
- Spelling mistakes and simple grammatical flaws are abundant, especially as you progress through. As they become more frequent it becomes harder and harder to forgive them.
Basically, I don't understand how this is in the top 10 games. It's rushed, amateurish, and deeply flawed to a degree that becomes unbearable when you consider that a couple of beta testers, or even just the author revising everything before releasing, would have caught the majority of the biggest bugs.