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Cursor  Member Reviews - Camelot 1.05

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
 
  Just a Mess, Thu 18th Aug 2011
By Duncan_B - See all my reviews

Every room in this game has a minimum of three mistakes in its writing, except for a room with no use and practically no implementation that only has two. The paragraphing manages to be all over the place and crammed together at the same time, and all dialog is in italics, so it's a mess even to read. Motivation for puzzles and plot is likewise scattershot. Confusing parser responses abound. The small world is artificially inflated with pauses; 3 second waits when moving from a room makes it feel like moving through 12 rooms. Generally, all of the most potentially interesting items go unimplemented, but you'll see a lot of chairs, shelves, and tables, generally described in some hyperbolic state or another.

On the level of representation and tone, the game doesn't know which Camelot it wants to represent: a glorious, high fantasy kingdom of legend or a cruel world of "the darkest medieval age" (quote from the game). One moment it describes the deplorable condition of the dungeons or kitchen, this-or-that crude furniture, darkness and vomit-inducing stenches. It subjects the player to caste-based bigotry (even if it disrupts puzzle logic!), and even launches an ad hominem attack on a respected member of the IF Community. Then it wants to turn around and fascinate us with images of male peacocks strutting "like princesses," beautiful tapestries, and some really tasty (if "luke warn") baked bread. If there is an attempt at subverting the image of Camelot, it is quite poorly executed.

One wonders why the author chose Camelot as a location at all. The only character important to Arthurian legend that the player actually interacts with is Merlin, and even then that interaction is not beyond the barest extent of characterization. It's clear the author wanted Merlin to come off as likeable, but it's just not the case, since we do practically nothing with him. If anything, I don't see why he couldn't be replaced with a generic evil wizard who might also kidnap a random library janitor (through a method of dubious reliability, but whatever, it's magic), make him into a kitchen slave to be somewhat routinely beaten and insulted by the staff of this savage castle, and then force him to do his dirty work. Add to this that there's no particular *reason* the PC can do what must be done that Merlin couldn't himself do... that's some evil wizard sh*t, right there.

The rags to riches story underneath it all is, like most of the other elements of the game, just lip service. Ultimately, I leave the game feeling like I've been bribed by Muammar Gaddafi. There's nothing likeable in the PC, either-- the writing characterizes him as an almost supernatural klutz and kind of an idiot with no redeeming qualities. Coding and structure are frustrating, often actively misleading. It's not Escape from Camelot, but that's just because it's playable. That doesn't mean I won't give it the same rating.

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