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Sun 28th Aug 2005
By David Whyld - See all my reviews
Okay, the start was bad. Very bad. For some reason, all the text was in speech marks, whether it was spoken or not, making for a very jarring read. This strange custom was used a few other times throughout the game without any real reasoning that I could see but it was the one at the start that hit worst. Five beta-testers apparently missed this!
The main premise of the game is pretty similar to the previous Shadrick game – your brother has got into trouble so you have to rescue him. Last time it was a bear, this time he’s gone off wandering in some caverns and got himself lost. As the annoying little tyke seems to have a habit of getting himself into these situations, I was half minded to sit around and let him stew but as that wasn’t an option, I set off to rescue him instead.
As with most of Mystery’s recent games, there seemed to be strange gaps in the text. Some locations listed the short description and then several empty lines between that and the long description. Others had just a single empty line. No real problem but it makes the text appear kind of strange on the screen.
I came across a few problems as I wandered around the cavern system which comprises the bulk of the game. In one location that I had never visited I was told that there was an opening in the wall that wasn’t there before. How did I know this considering I’d never been there before? There was also a strange bit at the start where I examined the bar and had my mother tell me off for talking to myself. Which I wasn’t doing!
The overall writing is pretty okay and certainly less jarring than in the previous game as the viewpoint stays firmly in first person and doesn’t have the annoying habit of switching to second person from time to time. It’s also quite a bit bigger than the previous game and shows a nice progression, although I couldn’t say I enjoyed it as much. With the map disabled, the caverns are an awkward place to move through and while there are none of the hideous “puzzles” that used to plague the maze games I played as a kid, the very idea of a series of twisty little passages brought back those memories. Not nice memories either. The caverns aren’t a horrible maze by any means but they’re just not that interesting either.
One puzzle I liked – but which needed a lot more work expending on it to get it to work properly – involved pushing a large boulder which was too heavy to be carried and thereby manoeuvring it around. The only problem with this is that if you push the boulder in a direction you immediately see the new room description minus the boulder. The first time this happened, I wondered if something had gone wrong and went back looking for it. No sign! However, upon returning to the last location I found the boulder was there after all. Experimenting a few times showed me that the boulder does move when you push it but that it doesn’t show up in the room description until you actually look. Strange. 10 out of 10 for the nice puzzle, but 1 out of 10 for the poor implementation. It’s also a tad annoying to find that I’m told I can’t lift the boulder as it’s too heavy, only to later be able to lift it when I need to place it on a plinth.
Indeed, logic isn’t this game’s strong point. Items needed to dispose of every problem you encounter in the caverns are conveniently lying around and most don’t even require much effort to get hold of. In one location there is a puzzle involving three boulders and three plinths which need to be manipulated to open a secret passage leading to where your absent brother is. Strange that your brother managed to get past this obstacle himself without needing to solve the plinth puzzle. Although it’s even stranger that there are three boulders just lying around the caverns which are the exact weight required to trigger the plinths. Hey, now *that’s* what you call one hell of a coincidence.
4 out of 10