Hall of Fame: Inform Games


Ant Land 

by Rob Schweller

"You are an elite soldier ant in a colony of black ants. You start today stationed at a bottleneck point in the ant colony. This sentry point is the bridge between the two main sections of the colony, the upper sanctum and the lower sanctum. The queen resides to the north, in the lower sanctum. Your job is to make sure that no unathorized creatures pass into the depths of the inner sanctum. Most of your day consists of watching the hundreds of worker ants pass in and out of the sentry point. The monotony of the day is broken by the anxious scent of another soldier ant approaching from the north. Perhaps your day is about to get a little more exciting..."

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In this game, you are an elite soldier ant.  You are called out to go on a special reconnaissance mission for the queen ant.  Upon reaching the queen, she informs you that there has been a cave-in and that you are to travel upstream to a forbidden zone to help fairy the trapped worker ants back to safety.  The goal of the game seems to be to help the queen.  As you get to the forbidden zone though, you discover that the black ants have all been killed and there are enemy red ants around. 

The game consists of a lot of rooms, over 20.  In each room that you enter, a nice map shows up giving the layout of the room and the possible entrances and exits.  No 2 rooms are too similar and the help to bring extra flavor and explorability to the game.  The story is very interesting and captures the player’s attention.  The author was precise in giving minute details such as the ants “smelling out” in order to communication instead of “talking”.

I would categorize the came as an RPG.  It is very much like Dragon Warrior.  You, the player, has a health that you are able to repair by eating.  You also have a skill set of attacks and armor.  All of which, you can improve.  On top of that, there are definitely ways of changing outcomes of events.  It is possible to renegade against your own colony and turn all your friendly ants against you.  The technology is very good.  There are both NPCs and game items for regular use.  Each NPC is fairly limited in its speech, but it is evident, so the player needs not waste its time trying to converse unnecessarily.  The game items are diverse and help draw you further into the game.  There are eatable items, wearable items, readable items, and ride-able items.  The game play is random.  Sometimes if in the same situation as before, you will die, other times you won’t.  This fact of the game, if ever beaten, would allow you to play again and not get bored.

Overall, all of the above combined with the story, make this game a unique and creative experience.  A lot of creativity was put into this game, and because of it, I couldn’t stop playing it.  I have still to beat it, but when I get free chances, I still try.  I am unsure exactly what the goal of the game is, but that is all part of the fun of this game.  I would give this game 5 stars.



            I reviewed the game Ant Land over the weekend.  In it, you are an elite warrior ant and you are told to go visit the queen as she has something very important for you to do.  As it turns out, when you arrive she tells you of a cave in disaster and wants you to go investigate.  After traveling to the cave-in area, you find foreign red ants that you have to fight your way past.  In the next rooms you find the remains of your fellow ants, and then are forced into a boss battle.

            This is as far as I got, because the five times I played the game, I died here.   Despite that I was wearing armor and had full health, I couldn’t seem to get past a turn or two against the boss.  I would have found a walkthrough very helpful, just so I could see a way to defeat or avoid the bosses, but it wasn’t included in the file I received.  All that being said, lets move back to the game itself.

            Overall, the game was very well done.  I saw no obvious typos and there were no broken pathways in which you could get stuck.  In particular I liked the little map of each room.  While it didn’t really add anything in terms of imaginative enjoyment, it made navigation much easier.  You didn’t have to keep rereading the text to find out where to go, a glance at the map told you much faster.  In addition, there seemed to be a good amount of game state build it.  By that I mean there was health and armor and skill level with your attacks.  This added a lot to the game, and made it more RPG like.  Another thing that added to the game were the NPCs.  The characters all had numerous little actions that they did, and often more than one response as well which added to their depth and believability.   One thing I didn’t like was the battles against the red ants though.  While they were great in concept, and they were even implemented pretty well, they just took too long.  There was way too much attack/miss/parry action.  A little skirmish took upwards of ten turns sometimes, and was just tedious.  Then, running into a boss, one hit and you are dead.  So maybe a little readjustment in those areas would be appropriate.

            Finally, the concept and setting were very creative.  It was certainly something I would not have thought of, and there seemed to be some thought/research into the ant types and names and organization.  As a first attempt at IF, I would consider it a game very well done, though I would like to see the ending that I couldn’t reach.  I give it 4 stars overall, and would recommend a run through by others in the class.


Last edited 4/28/03 by RZ
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