IF Comp 2007 – Bellwater, Wish

Lord Bellwater’s Secret

This game will probably place in the top three. Since I have not played all the games and probably won’t play ALL the games, take any prediction of mine with a grain of salt.

This is a well-done game. It has no bugs that I could find, and everything seems to be implemented. It also has good puzzles, not too hard and well clued, but still challenging, and the writing is good.

I just have sort of an aversion to one-room games, although I must admit this one one-room game that is so well-done that you may not miss the lack of other rooms that much. Or not until the end.

Semi-spoiler here, as you do not know this at game start — you are a groom in Lord Bellwater’s service and your ladylove, the housemaid Elsie, was killed falling from the window of the study. You are convinced he is a cad and he had a hand in her death, so you sneak into his study to find some evidence to prove it.

I liked the mystery element.

Since this is a one-room game, the player, naturally, has to examine and search everything in that room and the environment is rich. It provides flashbacks telling who you are and what you are doing and it also provides puzzles and hints. In fact, the rich environment also provided me with a learning experience. Heh. Learn something new every day. One of the items in the room is a grocer’s cardboard box that was delivered. This struck me as an anachronism, and I had to google to see if cardboard would have been appropriate to the time. What do you know? Cardboard (and grocery delivery) was used in the 1800’s. Not the corrugated cardboard we have now, something much thinner. But I found that interesting and I ended up feeling that the author had researched the time period and the items likely to be used in that time period. The amount of research put in is another aspect of the game that makes one feel it is well-done.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this game, because a great deal of it is examining things and solving puzzles and to discuss it much more would be spoily, but I did find one puzzle TOO hard. SPOILER ON. After I had Lord Bellwater’s birthday, I figured that was the basis of the safe combination. I don’t know, maybe there was something somewhere that indicated that was not enough. But after doing about 8-10 combinations of the birth date, I gave up and had to peek at the walkthru. I didn’t feel that part was well-done. Looking at the walkthru, I couldn’t figure out how, on my own, I would have ever hit on the combination. SPOILER OFF.

Despite this game being crafted than most, I still felt that there was a major problem with the ending. SPOILER ON I am not sure I found the only ending, or the optimal ending — I suspect not.  Trying to leave the room when done, I got caught. I had been very careful to avoid removing the money so I wouldn’t be called a thief, after all, I was looking for evidence, not to do some thieving. Yet when I was caught, I was arrested for thieving. Now, logistically I could have been arrested for trespass, but the papers I still had on me probably would not have supported what the ending said happened. Although I admit I may not have reset something back, and maybe if I had that wouldn’t have happened. I almost decided to replay the ending to see if that was it, but lack of time has prevented me. Anyway, unless I missed something, in my opinion, that needs fixing. SPOILER OFF.

Overall, I enjoyed this game, and appreciated the care that went into it. However, I still find one-room games not very intriguing — I like moving around a game map, it makes the world inside the game more believable to me. I am very spatial and tend to look for that. And I like having a game map because usually it means that game is more complex as well. Therefore I find one-room games too short and hard to take seriously as full games or view as more than show-your-stuff comp entries.

So I will give this game high marks, but I will also not remember it for that long.

But this author has serious potential.

Wish

I was bored by this game, sorry. This is really nothing WRONG with Wish, the writing is okay, there are no bugs that I found, the needed things seem to be implemented, the puzzles aren’t too hard — except playing it felt pointless. To me, anyway.

There are two stories running concurrently. The PC is a little girl and she is thinking about her grandpa at Christmas time — in cut scenes. She is also wandering around a game map, a fantasy game map, and there appears to be no relation between the two stories. In the end, they are brought together, but not in a big AHA kind of way.

Fantasy is hard to do and I found this fantasy land incongruous, not consistent, and also not full bodied enough to be intriguing.

Maybe my attitude is based on the fact that the writing is minimalistic. But the plot also feels minimalistic. The game feels minimalistic. Too thin. Way too thin.

I peeked at the walkthru fairly early on, but still after solving some on my own. I also solved some after peeking. But I just wasn’t interested enough to keep working at it, so I peeked a lot. SPOILER ON I only found one puzzle that seemed unfair, waiting for the hat to fall off. No indication really that that was going to happen. Maybe if the little girl tried to go pass the guard the hat would fall off, I couldn’t tell. SPOILER OFF.

I feel this game was probably a good exercise for the author to learn I7. But if it had been me, I would have left it as an exercise and never released it.

Overall, it just doesn’t feel like an adult game. (Not speaking of sex here. :-)) This might be a game a child would enjoy playing, I have no idea. But I am not a child and I didn’t.

I will give this decent marks for being well enough done, but also rank it average for being too thin.

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