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The Home of Otter Interactive Fiction

Land of the Mountain King
Author: Kenneth Pedersen
Date: 2017
ADRIFT 5


Reviewed by Jack Welch

This combat-based game is written in Adrift, so I know of two ways to play the game. It is distributed as a self-contained but relatively hefty (10+ MB) windows executable file, or you can load the blorb file into an Adrift version 5 interpreter, available from the Adrift website. Of the two, I would recommend grabbing the interpreter because you can later use it to play other Adrift games.

The story is minimal: you have been summoned by a witch to rid the land of the evil X, where X equals mountain king. I’m pretty sure that there is another game in this year’s competition where X equals wizard. This has been a boom year for witch subcontractors.

The ABOUT makes no bones regarding the nature of the game, the most important verb will be kill, followed by kill some more. The ABOUT is also helpful in highlighting use of a less common pair of verbs: equip and unequip to wield weapons.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

Strategy for this game consists of finding something that you can kill, and which will not kill you first. I will say at least that the game is not cruel — you always know your status and can decide whether to press an attack or not. Also, if you get in over your head, you can always flee an encounter, and the opposing monster does not get an attack of opportunity as it might in some table top RPGs.

A screen capture, with text on left, game map on right. Click for larger version.

The game map is sparse, except for a cottage. In the somewhat furnished cottage, you can ask the little (actually, surprisingly heavy) old lady about the backstory and each monster, but her responses have little bearing on the game.

The monsters need to be encountered in a specific order: you start with bare fists and will need to obtain objects from each fight to take on succesive monsters. There is some randomness to attacks, so even properly outfitted, you run some risk of dying due to bad luck. I visited Valhalla a lot, but the game is lightweight and restarting is not a burden. The ABOUT itself suggests saving often, and that is good advice.

Using a general parser engine with all of Adrift’s bells and whistles seems like overkill for this game. The lighthouse location is a puzzle feature, but otherwise the game could consist entirely of movement and whacking creatures.

Story: 3

Voice: 4

Play: 6

Polish: 7

Technical: 6

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 5.2


Reviewed by Aziraphale

It was kind of this game to include a random combat warning, because at this point that is in fact extremely upsetting to me.

Okay, jokes aside: another fantasy combat game. I can’t decide whether I’m less inclined to look favorably due to how many of these I’ve played, or more inclined because my standards have been lowered. This one runs in ADRIFT, a fantastically old-school looking contraption that I had to run in an included .exe file (which I was extremely dubious about, but also didn’t want to install another interpreter just for this game, so sketchy exes it is). The in-game map is appreciated, at least.

I’m going to go ahead and state this game’s biggest flaw (which might also be a flaw of the interpreter): it autoplays really annoying music (could have also used a content warning for that!) and, while there is an option to turn the music off, it turns back on every time you move between locations.

This is not really a traditional fight-a-monster game. It’s kind of a puzzle in disguise. There’s a handful of monsters that you have to fight in an extremely specific order; go outside of that order and you will almost certainly die. Heck, you might die anyway, because the combat is random; I stopped playing at the point where I died three times in a row to the monster I was supposed to be fighting!

Even besides that bit of unfairness, figuring out what monsters can kill you does not exactly feel “fun.” A lot of it is trial and error; heck, the walkthrough recommends you save every time you kill something, just in case. You need a weapon to kill most things, and there’s a point where it looks like you can pick up a weapon, but nope: it triggers a battle. A battle you can’t win without a weapon. And when you die, a sign smugly suggests that you should try getting a weapon. Fun times. There’s an old woman who offers you advice about monsters, and I thought maybe I was supposed to talk to her to get advice on what I could fight. When I tried that, though, she gave me such excellent advice as:

>ask about squid
“There are dangerous creatures in the sea. One of them is a giant squid.”

Helpful!

There’s not much else to judge the game on; writing is functional but sparse, there’s not much depth to the story or the few characters, the one puzzle I did was fine but looking at the walkthrough I probably would not have gotten the “trying to go in a stated direction doesn’t work until you examine something arbitrary” or “wait in a location until something happens” puzzles. This is a fantasy combat game I’m not actually opposed to on premise, and I think I could have potentially had a good time with it; the repeated random deaths just wore my spirit down too far.

Rating: 4


 Reviewed Christopher Huang

In this simple RPG simulation, we're a viking hero tasked with defeating the eponymous Mountain King, who lives in a castle on the other side of a ravine. But we've been transported here without our weapons (thanks to magical limitations) so we've got to go and kill us some monsters first to equip ourselves.

It's pretty light. There's no levelling up, per se, though each defeated opponent nets us something to aid us in our quest, be it a weapon, a better weapon, or improved defences in the form of extra hit points. And that's pretty much it, really. Kill a few monsters, face the mountain king, win. We're not given any form of reaction to the thing that put us in this situation to begin with; as such, there really isn't much of a story at all. The writing barely makes any effort to hold the thing together.

It really feels like the skeletal beginnings of something bigger. A sketch, if you will; something pencilled in with neither shading nor colour. The coding is competent, at least, and I found no bugs. It's entertaining enough if you like the whole "kill monsters, get their loot" thing, but if you're looking for any story deeper than an unabashed excuse to go do that, you're out of luck.

I call it bread and butter with a mug of warm milk. It does a competent job of breakfast, but it doesn't exactly excite the taste buds.


Reviewed by xenoglossy

This is a well-constructed little RPG, and it was a nice breather after going through a couple of the more unpolished games above; the only real issues I had were, first, that even if you type "music off" the music will start again when you enter another room, and, second, that it took me about five million tries to beat the ogre even though I was as prepared for the fight as it's possible to be. I beat the final boss on the third try and the ogre took me at least twice that, probably more, which seems like something that shouldn't be happening even with heavily RNG-based combat. Other than that, I didn't have any mechanical or gameplay issues with it. It is, however, a game that doesn't really distinguish itself in terms of mechanics or writing from a ton of similar RPGs that are out there. There's a ton of stuff in the same vein that's in some way more sophisticated or inventive than this is, so there's just not that much reason to play this particular one.


Reviewed by MathBrush

I helped beta test this game.

This game meets my niche interests well. It is a combat random combat RPG in a fantasy setting, where it's mostly puzzle-based; most monsters are extremely difficult to defeat until you solve another puzzle, than become generally easy. It allows for some variability, though, as you can sequence break or die in an easy fight due to randomness.

I thought this was fun. A couple of times I felt thwarted by not knowing what to do, though.


 

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