bishopsreviews (bishopsreviews) wrote,

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IFComp 2009: "Spelunker's Quest"

This is a game from the 2009 IFComp.

Uh-oh. Interrobangs and waking up in a cave with amnesia. I would imagine this is the kind of thing Richard Bos was going on about in his rant against submediocrity in Comp games, except Richard Bos also has his protagonist wake up in a cave with amnesia, so, uh, maybe I missed his point.

Does falling and hitting your head and formulating a desire to escape constitute a "quest"? The other two games which describe themselves as "Quests" in the competition, for all their other failings, actually involve quests. Even adding in the situationally inappropriate treasure-hunt aspects, this isn't actually very questy.

This one actually lists beta testers, which is a good sign. Certainly straight off I see a pretty good implementation depth and competent writing. What's being implemented may be a different matter, though. This game is old old-school. Rooms and objects with no real rhyme or reason, unprompted instadeaths, combat (mercifully unrandomized). Add a maze and you can party like it's 1982.

So, datedness aside, how does this stand up? Not bad, not great. The writing's pretty workmanlike, but at least it's literate, and it's generally actually descriptive (although don't tell me a room is "crudely furnished" if it contains a sofa, a recliner, and a table. That's more than most graduate students have in their living rooms). However, that's kind of it. The puzzles are highly bimodal, ranging from trivialities like "use this key on a chest one room away" and "stab the monster with the sword" to read-the-author's-mind bits like "search an item you have no reason to believe you should even look at too closely". None of the individual parts of this game are particularly exciting, and it's too trifling for those non-exciting bits to actually be part of an impressive whole. The obvious games to compare this to are "zork, buried chaos", to which it is far superior but with which it shares inspiration and old-school pretensions, and, more relevantly for judging purposes, "Eruption", in that it is a slight, flat game which achieves fundamental technical competence.

One major mystery: I can't carry the helmet. I can wear it, I can take it off and drop it, but apparently tucking it under my arm and carrying it around is not an option. This isn't a technical error, since it was coded to behave this way and does so consistently, but it's a head-scratcher as to why.

Tags: if, ifcomp 2009

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