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The Angel, the Devil and the Human Reviews
Author: Benjamin Samuel
Date: 2007
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by MrPetrov

Mr. Jar took the time and made the effort to produce a pleasant little game and send it out into the harsh and alkaline plains of the ADRIFT world. I cannot say how many people have downloaded and played it but it worries me that not one of them has taken the time to even say 'Thanks for spending six or eight hours out of your life putting together a creative work that few people understand and even fewer will really appreciate'. This is even more worrying because of the long times between new games (at least on the site) and the dearth of response even to old games. Thus not only did Brain in Jar succeed in making a clever and playable game he also managed to pull it off on a sort of creative cantilever. He deserves our applause.

TADAH is, as BIJ tells us, a rather old riddle wherein various reactive components must be arranged or eliminated. Sort of like a mental version of toothpick solitaire. Now Mr. Petrov (to use the third person) is not an intellectual. Years of hazardous chemicals and stressful situations have caused in him a wide departure from formal logic and his capacity for analysis was left behind a long, long time ago. To Mr. Petrov a riddle is an enigma wrapped in something really damn hard.

And so I (returning to the first person) did what any forthright and honest person would do when faced with something that demands intellectual effort. I Googled the answer. Sure enough, "Fox chicken corn puzzle -porn" (that's a Boolean logic joke) delivered up to me the fact thatÖ

Nope, sorry. You're just going to have to play it. Or at least copy-and-paste into the search bar on your own.

The puzzle, irregardless of the Googling thing, is sufficiently well put together to be engaging. I say sufficiently because it does not contain any of the three elements of American popular writing (terrorists, breasts, explosions) or mainline fantasy writing (elves, giant robots, breasts) and therefore most people under the age of twenty-four will immediately lose interest. That is their loss and our growing challenge.

BIJ wisely uses cut outs to avoid traditional IF commands (look, kill, conquer world) that would spoil the operation of the puzzle. This is to his credit, as my obsession with looking, poking, and/or setting on fire all of the visible elements of any particular location would have delayed me from attempting to solve the issue at hand. It's also the reason I was kicked out of school. All the same I would rather have had some ogle-time with the succubus secretary or maybe drop-kicked and imp or two. And you can only imagine the fun that could have been had in Heaven.

The descriptions in the game are short and not overly complex but contain quite a bit of cleverness and good humor. I was disappointed at some grammatical errors, though, especially in the Heaven location. One solution for this seems to be to write the major elements of a game (room descriptions, introductions, and so forth) in a commercial word processor which will pick up on and underline errors that might otherwise be missed. Once the work has been machine proofread it is fairly easy to copy-and-paste into the very-big-text-box that Campbell has provided for us. Of course, I am no one to complain over grammar. My ongoing (and losing) battle with punctuation and indentation is well recorded in the preceding fifteen hundred words. All the same, text errors throw the player out of the game's milieu (French, meaning, "word made up by Lit professors who can't write worth a damn themselves") and lessens the playability thereof.

Even with the limited amount of text provided there were some very good jokes. BIJ's hell sounds better than his heaven (Sexy succubus secretary, people, how can you lose?) and the end-game trick deserves a cleverness point or two. I also liked the inclusion of a pre-game menu and instructions. TADAH is sufficiently complex in concept that an instructions and an explanation is warranted and BIJ was not found wanting. Tart good humor is good for IF text and really keeps the player involved but only when it is matched by completeness and attention to detail.

There also was, wisely, included a shameless plug for Campbell in the credits section. BIJ clearly worked hard on his game and wanted to let the Big Guy know how much he appreciated the anvil he used for hammering out the iron. If Campbell deigns to descend from his golden throne on Skull Island and read this poor little post I pray that he knows that we are all in debt to his mightiness, majesty, manliness, meatiness, and other adjectives beginning with M. Yea, for the guy, he is cool. Cool is he with his hat and his sunglasses and his good taste in forum design. And there was much rejoicing for a new version was released. Amen.

My only notable complaint about the game is that BIJ doesn't initially include an obvious protocol for movement between the three layers of the Hell, Earth, and Heaven. I suppose it should have been obvious that going up would take me out of Hell and up onto earth but a good way to cover this would have been to include alternate commands like "Go To X" or by including a route up and down in the location description. The game's structure isn't hugely demanding on the intellect of the player (unless you're Mr. Petrov) but these little streamlining details can really make a difference in the long run.

I again applaud Brain in Jar for a good piece of work that is clever and engaging while building upon a traditional logic puzzle which, thankfully, is easily solved with a little search-bar help. I am looking forward to more and longer works by this author and by other newcomers to the community.

Of five 'stars':

Writing: ***
Playability: ***
Cleverness/Originality: ***
Structure:***
Completeness/Error Checking: **
Overall): ***


Reviewed by David Whyld

Okay, I generally avoid 4 Kb games because a) they're 4 Kb and thatís way too small for a proper game, b) they're 4 Kb and thatís way too small for a proper game. But owing to the death/dearth of new ADRIFT games lately, and the fact that someone writing a game ought to be encouraged, I decided to give it a go.

The game is a take on the fox/chicken/corn puzzle which I'm sure I heard about at school but couldnít really recall till I read the intro. Here you have to apply the same kind of theory to a devil, an angel and a human: namely, getting them from Hell to Heaven without anything untoward happening to any of them along the way.

The game warns me at the start that if I leave the devil and the human together, the human will sell his soul to the devil. It also advises me that if I leave the devil and the angel together, the angel will smite the devil. I tried both of these things* and nothing bad seemed to happen. The human didnít sell his soul to the devil (or if he did, he did so very quietly and didnít let on) and the angel didnít smite the devil (at least, not that I noticed) and the game progressed merrily on its way and concluded satisfactorily. As itís a small game, I played it through four times trying different combinations of who to take first and who to leave behind, and the game concluded with the happy ending each time. Is it possible to fail? Even when I was deliberately trying to make it fail, I still succeeded.

* Present me with a big red button and a sign saying ďDONíT PUSH THIS BUTTON OR TERRIBLE THINGS WILL BEFALL YOUĒ and Iíll be tapping on the button before I've even finished reading the sign. I'm like that.

A few technical points: TAKE works but the more common GET doesnít. I canít DROP any of the characters once I've TAKEn them, but I can LEAVE them behind. They're also not listed in my inventory despite the fact that I'm effectively carrying them around. The angel, devil and human have each one conversation topic that they repeat endlessly, irrespective of what you actually asked them about. Examine is underused: you can examine the angel, devil and human, but everything else just returns the same default message that there isn't much to look at in this game. Sure, the game is about the puzzle of getting all three characters to Heaven without anything bad happening, but it wouldnít hurt to include a few descriptions of other things as well.

But I didnít mind the game overall. It was one of the few (and it really is a few) small games I've played that was actually worth the download and that didnít get immediately deleted off my hard drive five minutes later with a muttered ďnext time, write a proper gameĒ comment. I donít know if itís possible to lose the game (a bug?) or whether I was just incredibly lucky in always managing to find a winning ending, but a quick glance in the Generator (always nice when people donít password protect their games) doesnít immediately show me a losing ending so Iím assuming the bug, if it is a bug and not just the writer going easy on the player, is intentional.
 


Reviewed by Duncan Bowman

Little Game, Little to Offer

It's the chicken/corn/fox puzzle with a different theme. If you already know the answer, there is nothing for you here. If you don't, you might have fun solving the puzzle, but there's nothing especially deep going on here. Implementation is the barest minimum. The game explores no themes and has no conflict beyond its one, simple puzzle.

It's not *bad* per se, the author even says that he wrote it in the course of a couple days, but the result is a small, hollow thing. For its solution, the game offers a fanfare on the level of a kazoo toot. Meh.


By Po. Prune

Enjoyable

Quite a neat game, and although it takes a little thinking (but that is the whole point, isnít it?) not too hard to figure out.
I enjoyed playing it.
 


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