Friday, April 17, 2009

[Spring Thing] Vague

This is a review of the Spring Thing 2009 game Vague. So before going any further, here is some spoiler space for RSS feeds. Some spoiler space. Some spoiler space. Some spoiler space. It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. Some spoiler space. Some spoiler space. And I'm all out of gum. Some spoiler space. Some spoiler space.

This time, the game is Vague by Richard Otter. Which is a weird game, since it apparently consists of rooms taken from all Otter's other games. You have to find items with the name of a Richard Otter game on them, then give those items to people in the corresponding location. In the meantime, you must solve some other puzzles of the "give the cloak to the shivering beggar" variety.

I only played one Richard Otter game before (Unauthorised Termination), but you don't need to be familiar with his work in order to play Vague: all locations contain clear hints about what game they are from. This is good, I suppose: forcing people to play all your fifteen games in order to vote in the Spring Thing would have been... presumptuous.

However. Walking through a game world that consists of totally different rooms which mean nothing to you, conversing with characters who say little more than "Identify this game!", and hunting down pieces of paper with titles written on them is not fun. There is no story. The puzzles aren't clever. The pieces of the diverse games are not united into a coherent and surprising whole. (At least not as far as I can see, though true Otter devotees may find meanings I miss.)

Vague plays a lot like a failed commercial for the author's other games. It is not itself an interesting game experience.

On top of that, the implementation is far from perfect. Please never write something like this:
> wear coat

"For some reason you are unable to do that. It isn't that the coat does not fit, you do not want to wear it."
I don't understand how this parser error is even possible:
> get dart
You pull the dart from the board.

> throw dart at colin
You are not carrying the knife.
And beta-testing should reveal stuff like this:
> open wallet
You can't open the wallet!
People might be better off playing another Richard Otter game. I seem to remember that Unauthorised Termination was a lot better than Vague.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this one. The joy of the puzzle (http://blackwatercanyon.spaces.live.com/default.aspx) was about discovering what the game was about, and then doing the research online to find all the matches. The "puzzle" is asking yourself, "what am I looking at?"

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