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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Sun 28th Aug 2005
By David Whyld - See all my reviews
This I liked although it wasn’t a game I managed to make much progress with before I had to resort to the hints which, fortunately, are quite extensive but, unfortunately, don’t give more than hints so if you’re really stuck on a puzzle and don’t have a clue what to do they’re next to useless.
The idea behind the game seems like a very simple one to begin with: you have to be at a certain place by a certain time and have run into problems getting there. So you’re hanging around a train station trying to figure out which train you need to board to get you to your destination. Easy enough? Far from it.
The train station isn’t a particularly big place – 9 locations in total – but it gives the impression of being much larger due to the sheer number of things to do and the fact that the NPCs wander around from location to locationplace to place. Quite a few of the puzzles are obvious as a good number of items are literally lying around the place for you to find. Of course, once you find them you have to find something to do with them. Again, some are obvious. Examine enough things and you’ll find clues telling you that such-and-such needs something and that someone else has lost an item. But a good few items don’t seem to have an obvious use and there are a few that you’re sure should be used for one thing but seem to have another use somewhere else. There’s a coin stuck in a slot in one location which I was sure I could remove with the pencil I had managed to swipe, but no such luck.
Conversation is handled in the awkward format of “ask [name] about [subject]” – never a favourite of mine. It’s done better here than in most games in that I was actually able to garner a few responses from certain of the game’s NPCs instead of being hit with the default message that you tend to get when you’ve asked something the writer didn’t expect. But, still, it was trying at times. Communicating with characters by asking them about various things is difficult and most of the time you’re sat there desperately trying to think of what to ask them about. The obvious things don’t generate a response or they generate a not entirely helpful ones, and then you’re left with the problem of trying to figure just what it is you need to be asking them.
A major communication problem arose when trying to speak to a young girl who is lost (jarringly, she is often referred to as Young Girl) and looking for a train to Donningby. I managed to find out from a helpful trainspotter chap where the young girl needed to go but trying to tell her this got the better of me. Maybe it was something incredibly obvious I was overlooking but after speaking random words to her and not getting a response, I just had to admit defeat. Ironically, she needs to go to platform 1 but even when standing on it I wasn’t able to point this out to her!
There are a fair few things that need doing around the train station which don’t really seem to be required to complete the game (I haven’t completed it yet so I couldn’t say for certain) but merely boost your overall score. Some of these consist of the tried and tested puzzle format of finding an item and giving it to someone else, but a good few are more inspired than that.
One thing I didn’t realise, and which isn’t made obvious if you don’t pay really close attention to what is going on, is that boarding a train and reaching your meeting are an impossibility. Instead, you have to get the person to come to you. This was something that completely threw me as what seemed like a relatively simple game to begin with – buy a ticket, find which platform you need and then wait there for the required train – turns out to be a lot more difficult. Of course, you’re not likely to discover that you can’t get to your meeting until you’ve boarded what you think is the right train only to end up failing the game as a result.
Unfortunately this is a game which is very easy to mess up, which I did several times. In one location I found a note and upon speaking to one of the NPCs I was told to hand it to the station master. Which I did. Only to discover that as I hadn’t amended the details on the note first, a series of events later in the game weren’t going to happen. The note was gone by this time of course and with no way of getting it back (that I knew of), I was faced with an unfinishable game. Maybe a warning or two for the player might be an idea?
Negative aspects aside, this was certainly my favourite game of the Summer Comp and with the difficulty toned down a little and some warnings for the player to avoid unfinishable states, it could be a far better game still.
7 out of 10