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Cursor  Member Reviews - The PK Girl

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
  ADRIFT's Finest Moment, Fri 19th Aug 2011
By David Whyld - See all my reviews

The PK Girl, Hanadorobou's first game for Adrift, is a truly massive piece of interactive fiction. Weighing in at a hefty 1.5 MB including graphics and sound or around 270 KB without, it'd undoubtedly the biggest ever game written for Adrift. And, also undoubtedly, the best.

Most good games start impressively and The PK Girl is no exception. Though there is no real introduction as such, the game itself is not so much about the player (Garret) as it is about the events that occur shortly after his arrival at Majesty Mall. In such circumstances, a lack of background is entirely forgivable. The opening locations set the feel for the game, being lengthy and immensely detailed: every static item you can think of is described and the attention to the minor details that has gone into this game is impressive enough in its own right. Even without a brilliant storyline to back things up, it would be a decent enough game to just explore the set of locations at Majesty Mall.

Wander around the initial locations at Majesty Mall and you find a wide variety of things to do: buy (or steal in my case) some magazines, get an ice cream, browse through some software titles… None of these things make a decent game by themselves but it's refreshing playing a game that at least makes the effort to be realistic. Too often I've played games set partially in shopping malls and been unable to buy a single thing because it wasn't essential to the plot.

Once the game gets underway - with the kidnapping in the ice cream parlour - The PK Girl really opens up and you begin to appreciate just what a mammoth game it really is. The first set of locations (Majesty Mall) are in themselves quite a bit larger than most Adrift games but they're just a small part of a game which spans well over a hundred locations. Quite often in games that boast upwards of a hundred locations, the majority of the locations are fairly empty and lifeless and seem to be included in the game for no other reason than to give it size. Not so with The PK Girl. While not all the locations need to be visited, they add considerably to the depth and believability of the game and there are none of the "three word description" locations that often haunt such games.

As said before, the game includes graphics and sound. The graphics are Manga-style in appearance and amusing enough; the sound, alas, I found irritating more than anything else. Particularly in the opening locations, it distracts greatly from reading what's on the screen and after a while of vainly trying to ignoring it, I was forced to switch it off. Maybe if you enjoy listening to music at the time you play your games, you'll enjoy the music in The PK Girl but for me it was the game's one failing.

Despite its vast size, The PK Girl is not a difficult game to complete. As in Heal Butcher's The Wheels Must Turn, a large part of the storyline seems to happen independent of the actions of the player. Often typing "wait" can progress the game and there are a fair number of puzzles that are solved by simply doing nothing. But while finishing the game may be easy enough in its own right, reaching one of the game's eight "special" endings (involving one of the eight female characters in the game) is another matter entirely. And even though I've played the game quite ruthlessly I've yet to reach even one of these endings. In a way, this seems to be a game more interested with developing your relationship with the female characters than about the storyline itself; as said before, the game itself is easy enough to finish and, provided you don't do anything too ridiculous and have several hours to spare, you should have little trouble finishing it in a single session; the complications arise when trying to boost your score and reach a special ending.

Interaction with the characters you meet is a joy as rarely have characters in interactive fiction been rendered with such skill. The PK Girl, thankfully, uses a nice straightforward "talk to [character]" idea to handle the majority of the conversations although a fair number of these conversations are started with no input from the player and instead a set of dialogue options are displayed. Pick the correct one and you might get a score increase, pick the wrong one and your score plummets. There are eight separate sets of scores used here, one for each of the eight female characters, and depending on how well you handle the dialogue with them their score either increases or decreases. No doubt a high enough score leads to one of the special endings mentioned before although even with countless saving and loading it's often difficult to steer a conversation towards giving you the best score.

Replay is a major factor with The PK Girl as you strive to reach one of the eight special endings. Often how you handle your dialogue with one character affects your chances with another character, making the game a very difficult one at times.

All in all, this is a game I could not recommend more. Whether it wins the IFComp this year or not, it's certainly the best game that's been entered and the best text adventure I've played in a long, long time.

Logic: 9 out of 10
Things happen in a very logical manner and I doubt there's a single illogical moment anywhere to be found.

Problems: 8 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
I'm not too sure whether this is a problem or not or just me playing things through wrongly, but a couple of times when I arrived at Gammex Industrial, I was unable to enter. The doors would not open and I had to reload my last save and play things differently. This generally happened when I had spent time going to and from the mall trying to improve my score with Aileen.

Story: 9 out of 10
An enthralling story involving two sisters with psycho-kinetic powers (the PK Girl(s) of the game's title) that had me captured from the word go.

Characters: 10 out of 10
Fully believable characters who are light years away from the cardboard cut-outs that generally tend to populate such games. You actually find yourself caring about the characters and that, in a text adventure, is a rare thing indeed.

Writing: 9 out of 10
Excellent from start to finish.

Game: 10 out of 10
Undoubtedly the best game ever written for Adrift and perhaps one of the finest pieces of interactive fiction ever written, The PK Girl is just sheer brilliance from start to finish. If you play only game this year, make it this one.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
  Awesome Game, Mon 4th Feb 2008
By - See all my reviews

This was one of the first Adrift games I ever played. Comes with sound and artwork, and has multiple endings. Highly recommended.

  Mon 31st Oct 2011
By campbell - See all my reviews

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