Hall of Fame: Inform Games

 

Redbeard 

by Joseph Woods

"You wake up on a large beach that extends for miles in each direction. Your head hurts and your body is sore, and you can vaugly remember being tossed off your ship in a violent storm. Others had been swept away also, with much of the ships goods but your memory is blank after being swept off the deck. It seems that your only option is to explore the island that you have appeared to land on, in hopes of finding sustinance, or even a way out. Perhaps this could be the 'treasure island' that you and your mates have been so hopelessly searching for, although that would be a bit ironic."

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Review:

            The game is set on an Island on which you have landed after a shipwreck (and as usual, you have no idea where you are or how you go there).  From there on, the game branches into many different locations, each one containing a variety of items and sometimes NPCs.  The game feels pretty intuitive right off the bat; its not obvious where you have to go, so you wander around and explore, but its obvious what your main goal is and what to do with the items you run across.  You also have limited inventory space, which forces the player to make choices as far as what items to keep and which to trade or drop.  The problem is, itís fairly hard to know which items are useful and which arenít, so sometimes a fair amount of backtracking is needed to return and pick-up an item you dropped.

            What there is of a story is decent, though this is more of a puzzle/treasure hunt type game than a fleshed out story.  Basically, one wanders around an island searching for a treasure, in the process running into several characters and a bunch of items.  The characters donít stand out much as people though, as they all serve a very basic purpose.  I guess it would.  Still, the setting is attractive and some of the story elements are pretty humorous.  The writing is fairly descriptive and paints an easy to visualize picture of the location. 

            Sometimes maneuvering around can get slightly tedious, form the abundance of locations, but this is a problem that most text-based games seem to face (and why they annoy me so much).  Still, the game does a fairly good job of building the playerís interest, so one is likely to neglect the annoyances and try to finish the game.  As mentioned before, the overabundance of items, coupled with limited inventory space, can get somewhat annoying also, but most times its not too hard to guess which items are useful and which arenít.  I cannot say that any of the technology stood out; most of it seemed pretty standard for this type of game, though well done. 

            So, to reiterate: the game has a decent setting with good visual descriptions.  While the NPCs are lacking in any personality, there is a good amount of land to explore, though navigating it can get frustrating.  There are also many items to collect and use, and a limited inventory, which forces the user to make choices and guess ahead of time.  There isnít much of a story; the game is more of a puzzle with a specific goal.  All in all, the game was very playable and easy to figure out.             

**** (4 stars)

Review:

The initial setting is you awakening on a beach after your ship is leveled by a storm.  The introduction provides your objectives as being 1) finding a way off the island, and 2) determining if this is indeed the treasure island that you were searching for originally.  The story is very straightforward, and the puzzles in the game keep you interested in what you are trying to accomplish.  The only downfall in the setting is the commonality of the plot.  It seems that the generic treasure hunt game has been done a thousand times, and this might turn off potential players who only play the game for a short time.

            The presentation was very simple and easy to understand.  The descriptions of each room were neither too verbose nor too concise.  The writer did not use nouns that you would not be able to examine or look at.  The items meant to be hidden were not impossible to find, and the ones that were meant to be visible were easily noticed.  Even though the paths from room to rooms seemed complicated at first, I was still able to create a mental map of where each room was relative to another.  This mental map is very useful when you come to an obstacle where the hint to what you need is given, and you remember where you heard about that item.  I wish the room was written a bit differently so that the adjacent rooms would be shown each time you enter the room.  It became a tad annoying to keep typing look to view where I could move to each time I entered the same room.  But I do commend the author for setting the rooms in a not to trivial manner where itís too linear.  The non-linear locations made the game a more rewarding experience.

            The gameplay was note-worthy since the author incorporated useful verbs, such as Ďbreakí or Ďcutí.  The verbs were not too hard to infer and it drew me into the game more; it made the game more realistic.  I especially liked the tricket salesman who only traded you items.  It took logic to determine what items would be essential in the future and what items wouldnít be.  I felt that the game items themselves were limited, but the amount of different items was a good number.  There was a new item you could take in practically each room, with each description giving a hint of something useful you could do with it.  For this particular game, I felt that the gameplay made it as interesting as it could have been.  The NPCís were pretty limited, however.  Some could have very well been props instead of animate objects since they only responded to limited commands or questions.  They could have provided more background information on the story, or something other than an unresponsive answer.  Other than that, the gameplay and technology were very well done. 

            I enjoyed this game, despite the generic plot.  The puzzles and logic problems made it playable for me.  The simple descriptions for the rooms and the items made it easy to comprehend.  I recommend this game for anyone interested in another treasure hunt game.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

 


Last edited 4/28/03 by RZ
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