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Cursor  Member Reviews - Return to Camelot

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  Review by Sam Kabo Ashwell, Fri 14th Sep 2012
By Anonymous - See all my reviews

Wait, wait, another detective rendered in genre-failing ungainly prose? Was there a sale on?

We're in Wacky No Fourth Wall Land; the narrator speaks directly to us, reference jokes take physical form and march into the game. The basic framing is Summoned By Wacky Wizard, a trope I loathe with a scorching intensity. The Merlin character is lifted unrepentantly from The Sword in the Stone, and similar liftings happen every five minutes.

This would be more acceptable if it were funnier; the style of humour is generally of the Inept Hero Slapstick variety, which is not trivial to do well.

I tried repeatedly to interact with the file folders individually, then gave up the effort only to check the walkthrough and discover that it wanted me to GET FOLDERS. Pulling a whole armful of folders out of a drawer is a pretty unnatural action unless you know that you're looking for something under there -- which the author does, of course, but I don't. Next the narrator declares that I should take a nap, but SLEEP and NAP aren't recognised, and only sitting in the office chair (not the easy chair) will trigger said nap.

The obligatory entry of the femme fatale. At this point, I've played so many games in which the narrator leers while affecting not to that a description in which the PC straightforwardly checks someone out is almost refreshing. However:

a) the word 'caress' gets used. Twice. It's generally not a great idea to reuse the same figure of speech within the same paragraph, and this goes double for a word like 'caress'. Once may seem like an accident; twice looks grabby.
b) she's smiling. A really big, genuine smile. This doesn't say femme fatale to me; it doesn't even say 'someone dealing with problems major enough to hire a detective.'

...and then things start going downhill as soon as she starts talking. Oh well. The best bit is "Her chest moves violently as she speaks, almost stuttering out the words." I've never seen anyone's chest move violently just from talking, so now I'm not sure whether she has a heart condition or tits of zero-gravity custard. (Admittedly, it turns out that she's not an actual woman, but an Igor under an illusion spell.)

Again, I'm not sure if the badly misleading response here is Adrift's fault or the author's.

>talk to woman

You don't have to [talk to a character] Just use [say hello or hi to character] in order to start a conversation.

>hello woman
Sorry, I don't understand that command.

>hello
Sorry, I don't understand that command.

>hello to woman
Sorry, I don't understand that command.

>hi

>ask woman about herself
She looks at you, then leans over the desk and begins to speak...

It is not an easy thing to be fair to a game that you know is going to continue to suck. Another thing that makes this difficult: native ADRIFT 5 doesn't seem to allow text selection at all. (I know, I know, still in development, and a lot of Z-code / Glulx interpreters are kind of crap at this too, but at least you can get at the text with a little hassle.)

This fails at building confidence in a very old-school manner: it's only interested in world building in a theme-park kind of way, and it doesn't seem to think that giving the player any direction is the author's job. It's the kind of game in which the first part of every puzzle is working out whether it's a puzzle at all. There's a certain amount of wacky exuberance that might appeal to people who liked, say, Jacaranda Jim, but there isn't anything like a modern level of craft. There are testers credited, but the writing and implementation still have numerous, basic errors. Of the three paintings, for instance, which are the only lead I really have, I can't get into one because I don't know how to refer to it. Looking at the walkthrough, the first thing I'm meant to do involves looking closely at scenery and then interacting with parts of it, which I've already been discouraged from doing by the file folders: I really have no confidence that the author's going to implement things at this level of detail and in a way I can refer to, so I don't have much inclination to poke around.

Even were this solidly-implemented, it would not be the sort of game that I would have very much interest in; as it stands, it's a 3.

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