Sunday, October 17, 2010

[IF Comp] Under, in Erebus

I had a hard time getting into this game, for two reasons. First, it was set in an apparently illogical after- or underworld, and recent experiences made me unenthusiastic about such a setting. But really, are underworlds the new dungeons and mansion, places where you can just put whatever you think of without having to respect any narrative logic? Second, the game gave very little direction, which wasn;t exactly encouraging. I started up and then quickly quitted Under, in Erebus three or four times.

But, when I finally persevered, I found a game that wasn't bad. I'm not sure I would have figured out how to use those booths without using some help, but once I understood how they worked, the game started to be fun. Or rather, the game started to be fun once I had understood how the booths worked and I had found out that my ideas about how to pronounce "ewe" were completely wrong. English pronunciation is evil.

So, I quickly made a couple of useful objects, and solved the puzzles concerning the Cyclops -- the "goals" commands was very helpful here. I quickly got stuck again, since I hadn't figured out that you could shrink by drinking tea (which also makes the train puzzle impossible to figure out). A little more perseverance on my part would have helped, but the central mechanic was so tedious, with all the object-fetching, that I wasn't in a very experimental mood.

I did make the "good place for reading" by experiment, but I'm not sure how you were supposed to figure this out from anything in the game; I did not figure out how to get help, and had to resort to the walkthrough again. I still have no idea why I went to the trouble of reading the genetics book, because it didn't seem to have anything to do with the final solution.

All of which is a way of saying that, yes, this is a neat game; but it should have been easier to use (no fetching objects after you have fetched them once, no carrying limit!), and a little more direction wouldn't have hurt either.

Wordplay games are really hard to do right, I suppose. Ad Verbum also had some parts which were impossible to figure out without reading the author's mind. Still, I think that it might have been possible to devise a scenario where more of the objects you can create with the booths are logically integrated.

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