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Stone of Wisdom
Author: Kenneth Pedersen  
Date: 2018

Reviewed by Thomas Mack

“Stone of Wisdom” is a simple puzzle-based adventure reminiscent of early games from Infocom and its predecessors. Armed with some basic supplies and some useful items he finds along the way, an adventurer attempts to retrieve an artifact that’s been hidden away in a fantasy kingdom.

Gameplay: The setting is largely generic, with the game starting in a troll-infested cave and later expanding to towns of small furry creatures and dwarves. Still, the game makes an effort to avoid hack-and-slash fantasy gameplay, and some of the puzzles involve helping characters the player runs across. The game is well-paced; it’s larger than it initially appears, and the environment is open without making it unclear how to proceed in the game. 5/10.

Mechanics: The puzzles are easy throughout, except for a few guess-the-verb difficulties I had near the beginning (e.g., trying to APPROACH TROLL and dealing with the rope). Clues are provided both within the game and in an external walkthrough, although they probably won’t be necessary. Inventory management was unnnecessarily complicated when climbing the rope and accessing the dwarven section of the game. 4/10.

Presentation: The game didn’t strike me as particularly original or memorable, but it was solidly crafted. The more prominent PCs encountered had distinct personalities; I didn’t notice in typos in the text; and I didn’t encounter any errors while playing. 6/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You like old-school adventures with easy puzzles.

Score: 5

Reviewed by Christopher Huang

We're a slave tasked with retrieving an artifact, the Stone of Wisdom, for our queen, who has promised to give us our freedom in exchange for this one final labour. What follows is a fairly standard MacGuffin quest with trolls, caves, and dwarves. The puzzles aren't too terribly difficult, and the coding seems pretty solid. There's a certain charm to the whole thing too, I think.

The thinking behind the story seems a bit simplistic: this isn't the place to go if you're looking for realism and depth. The simplicity makes it more appropriate for younger players, and it works quite well once you accept that it's written for a younger demographic.

As a breakfast, I see this as Lucky Charms cerial and chocolate milk. It's light, but it works.

Reviewed by McT

So I’ve finally got around to downloading and running ADRIFT. It gives a worrying ‘Uncaught exception’ system error when I run a game, but I ignore it and it seems to go away. I haven’t used ADRIFT before for some reason. I see there are three ADRIFT games in this years comp – two of them with stated gameplay ‘longer than 2 hours’. Eek.

Anyway, on to Stone of Wisdom, which is an old fashioned ‘seek out a treasure’ adventure game. Playing as Bash, a ‘strong warrior’, you are on a quest to find – you’ve guessed it – the Stone of Wisdom. It’s somewhere in some mines. You need to get it back to Queen Drana poste-haste and then she’ll give you your freedom. Why you are not free is left unexplained.

When I start the game I have food and a light (which has an ‘unusually high number of hours of running time’). I have a suspicion that this game is going to have both light and hunger counters – a mechanic I don’t really enjoy. On first glance, this looks like it might be a big map. Please don’t have an inventory limit! If any of these three things are true, I don’t come across them.

One of the issues is that the map is quite big – In the first section of the game, there are 16 rooms, but only 3 of them have anything worthwhile in them. It gets a bit irritating to have to navigate around it.

The game can be put into an unwinable state. But, it does have a command that allows you to turn a warning on and off that warns you when you’ve done something silly. You can then Undo. It feels quite cool, but I guess I’m not sure why. If, as the author, you know something’s gonna make the game unwinnable, then just don’t let the player do it. Anyway.

Overall, I’m quite enjoying this game. It doesn’t do anything special with the genre. It’s just…..a …..well…..a….text adventure. The puzzles are quite nice. It feels nicely written. Er. 6/10?

Mini-Review by Sam Kabo Ashwell

The Stone of Wisdom: This is a very straightforward fantasy cave-crawl. It flows fairly well – the initial sequence, in particular, moves forwards smoothly and naturally – but, like, IF has had 45 years of generic fantasy cave-crawls, and this isn’t doing a whole lot to stand out.

Reviewed by Herr M.

Find the eponymous artefact in a fantastical mine
+ Nice and clear cut scenario
+ As classic as the story gets at times the puzzles are original
+ You can actually lose the game and the game has the decency to tell you
+/- Rather on the easy side and somewhat linear
- Relatively many empty rooms
- Even for a fantasy scenario slightly unrealistic, eg.: Enemies living only a couple of 'rooms' apart, getting the stone so easily
= A good old treasure hunt

Reviewed by dgtziea

Ah, ADRIFT. I don't think I've played an ADRIFT game in maybe a decade? Stone of Wisdom has influences that stretch even further back (like maybe three times that?).

The preamble includes some well-worn fantasy game tropes: after the queen gives you a final quest to earn your freedom, you visit a wizard and are handed some adventuring items and told about each of them. This all takes place before the game starts, and I found it slightly odd reading in narrative prose all this stuff that I'd normally expect would happen in-game, in dialogue boxes and status screens as you walked around a castle and spoke to NPCs. Not a complaint, and it's a good decision overall; skip the fluff, start the player right at the cave entrance, armed already with the requisite sword and lamp and Quest for a Thing. The game also tells me it takes exactly nine hours to get from castle to cave, instead of using "soon/later/at midday/time passes...", and I think I just like taking note of when small things like these are tweaked slightly enough from convention that I notice.

Anyways, I don't know if it's the ADRIFT engine that's improved, or this game in particular that does a lot of work, but my memory of playing ADRIFT games was that they generally felt under-implemented and didn't respond to some commands as expected the way many of the other engines did, but this game doesn't have those problems. Other than, annoyingly, SE and S always auto-completing to SEARCH (ADRIFT has auto-complete). But it does have an in-game map, which was very helpful.

Everything's well implemented here. It's clear what I'm supposed to be doing. The map's laid out nicely. Puzzle's aren't difficult. The world-building/setting doesn't feel very cohesive or deep, sort of ornamental-feeling, but the individual locations and descriptions are filled out decently well.

For example, the two villages, the dwarves and creatures, are located nearby each other. Outside of the thief/captor, are these races antagonistic,are they ignoring each other, are they friendly? What are they all doing inside a forest inside a hole underneath a mine? You're not told. Everyone you meet comes across as a bit artificial, as NPCs rooted in place waiting to do their parts in your quest. And other games do this too, but here it's two distinct villages with dissimilar fantasy races, and I think that raised more questions for me than usual; I expected conflict, or some sort of relationship. You're walking around where they live after all, so it felt like I'd learn some things about them. But gameplay wise, all these NPCs do a good job letting you know what they all do, they're spread out well in the area, and they're all distinctive enough to be easy to track as you progress, so just as parts of a quest, they function well, and they're stock enough that you can fill in gaps (do the village dwarves do anything? No, but you can imagine what they might be doing, running around with say hammers in hand).

No attempts to just replicate the standard turn-based RPG combat either which was appreciated, because I don't think I've tried any interactive fiction yet that's convinced me there's a way to do that super well in text-only.

So: if a fairly brisk, old school fantasy adventure that sticks entirely to script is your thing, then this one might be up your alley.

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