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The Home of Otter Interactive Fiction


Melancholy Blood - Act 1 Reviews

Author: DannyL7773
Date: 2009
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Lumin

(No offense to the author intended, the following is short and to the point because I'm tired and grumpy.)

A good first effort, but unfortunately very unpolished, with lots of small problems such as punctuation mistakes (one persistent one I noticed was the way commas, etc. were constantly placed outside quotation marks during dialogue...)  lack of descriptions and no clear direction at various points that all added up to detract from the final product. Even though I enjoy games with plenty of plot, this one didn't strike a good balance between the 'interactive' and 'fiction' parts - I felt like I was reading a short story that just required me to type things at certain points to progress it, and while I'm not necessarily opposed to that, the specific things you're supposed to type require a bit of mind reading and sent me to the walkthrough very early on. (For one thing, do remember that aliases are your friend...and when the player has to examine and object to trigger an event, you want to make sure more common commands such as 'x' and 'look' are included as well.)

The most 'game-like' element in the entire game was unfortunately the weakest part and a tedious exercise in frustration - I must have died at least a dozen times, having to reload, reenter the PC's name and restore each time before finally giving up and replaying from the beginning to get the 'instant win' object. Note to the author - if you have to provide the player with a way to cheat to get past an obstacle, maybe you should rethink your reasons for including it in the first place? I'm sure there were plenty of ways that scene could have played out without resorting to pure chance with the much-maligned default combat system.

In fact that might be the root of my major criticism of this game - there were lots of scenes where the plot could have been progressed in a more interesting, or at least more efficient way. Things like having to type a specific (and pretty unintuitive) command in order for an NPC to realize that they're at their house now seem pretty unnecessary and shoehorned in, and there are several examples of situations like this throughout the game, where I wouldn't have even been able to progress without the walkthrough.

Anyway, I suspect a rush to meet the deadline may have been the cause of some of the problems, but without that pressure I hope to see an extra coat of polish on the expanded version and really look forward to playing it. Like I said, I do enjoy plot heavy games, and even though I'm not a huge fan of anime-inspired stuff (in the interests of full disclosure I was rolling my eyes a bit at the ending of the Vampire path when SPOILERS! the clueless kid had to step up and defend his two much more experienced friends apparently just because they were cute anime girls END SPOILERS!), I still really do think there's a lot of potential here. I'd especially like to see the branching plotline aspect used more, as other than multiple endings which IMO aren't really the same thing, that's something you still don't see in many games.
 


Melancholy Blood - Act 1
by DannyL7773

Reviewed by Abbi

SCORING: 63.13% (out of 100)

Did you finish the game? Why or why not?

I had to check the walkthrough on a couple things that hadn't been implemented as I tried them, but I did reach one of the endings. I couldn't reach the other because the command at Setsuna's house about her didn't work.

WRITING: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Content; Style: 3 (Three-Quarters' Weight)
flow / quality / quantity

Technical Aspects: 2 (Quarter-Weight)
spelling / grammar

Writing, Overall: 3 (Relevant)

Do you have any comments about the writing (flow, quantity, style, technical aspects, etc...)?

It was basically just a story in "take this action now" form, so it was mainly told in text dumps, but I felt they were split up enough to be passable.
On the other hand, there were some grammar issues, and the room descriptions were pretty dull. As a side note, the dynamic objects shouldn't have been capitalized because they were just regular rather than proper nouns.

GAMEPLAY: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Puzzles: 0 (No Weight)
fair / interesting / etc.

Enjoyment Level: 3 (Full Weight)
fun? gripping? etc.

Gameplay, Overall: 2 (Relevant)

Any comments about the gameplay (puzzles, enjoyment level, interest level, etc…)?

There really weren't any puzzles, which is okay as long as the audience is prepared for that type of "game". Being led by the hand can be a slightly-involving way to go through a story.
Adding in a little more interaction would be better though, to involve the player more.

SETUP: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Completeness: 1 (Half-Weight)
descs / cmnds covered

Presentation: 2 (Half-Weight)
setup / style / graphics

Setup, Overall: 3 (Relevant)

Setup comments (descriptions, commands covered, presentation, etc…) or other comments?

There really wasn't very much implementation of any objects or characters mentioned, other than the specific predetermined actions to take. And it's worth noting that people who use shortcuts for words might miss triggering a task just because of typing "x" rather than "examine", for example.
Back in the classroom for the second time, "Also here is a …" (not saying the object so as not to give it away) made me giggle, when it was supposed to be serious. Should be fixed to "Also here are", but this is a setup rather than a writing issue because I know it's just default ADRIFT behavior. It'd also be nicer to be able to refer to objects without having to use the entire name. In ADRIFT 3.9, that can be fixed using synonyms.

OTHER: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Competition (If Applicable): 5 (Full Weight)
kept rules / spirit of comp

Other, Overall: 5 (Relevant)

What did you most dislike about the game, and how could this be improved?

Lack of implementation. Even if you're leading the player by the hand, they need a little more freedom to interact with their environment or at least more closely examine everything mentioned, to have some depth. Also, please fix the story with the girl so it can actually be seen.

What did you like best about the game?

It was an interesting story, and I liked that you could choose either route, although from what I saw it didn't seem like one was a better choice than the other, which was kind of unfortunate in my opinion. (though of course I didn't see the actual end of the girl story) But hopefully when it's developed more, there will be more evident consequences from the player's choices and at least one of the endings will really feel like you've won instead of just passing through possible scenarios.

Any other comments?

It kind of jolted me every time I saw my name since the perspective was "I" rather than "you" and I didn't feel like at all like I was the character. Other than that, the perspective worked pretty well for the game.
The other game just seemed a bit more polished as a game. Otherwise, the styles were so different that I'd have a hard time deciding which was better.

 



Reviewed by DB

SCORING: 51.88% (out of 100)

Did you finish the game? Why or why not?

No. I got as far as day two, but felt the choice between this game and Crashland was already clear.

WRITING: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Content; Style: 3 (Three-Quarters' Weight)
flow / quality / quantity

Technical Aspects: 2 (Quarter-Weight)
spelling / grammar

Writing, Overall: 2.5 (Relevant)

Do you have any comments about the writing (flow, quantity, style, technical aspects, etc...)?

Lots of technical errors, forced simultaneity, characters/story don't feel believable. Why couldn't I run out of the front door during an emergency? More to the point, why would I run back in to help a teacher I obviously don't like? This is subjective, but I didn't care for my character-- he felt like a whiner. School setting feels tired and cardboardish-- why a school? Merely because of the age of the character? Why not set it in, say, a Martian arcade, the Amazon, or something? Scope of the story may be too large. I realise it's probably written to an aesthetic other than one I might appreciate (I am probably not its target audience), but I still think the execution needs work.


GAMEPLAY: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Puzzles: 0 (No Weight)
fair / interesting / etc.

Enjoyment Level: 1 (Full Weight)
fun? gripping? etc.

Gameplay, Overall: 1 (Relevant)

Any comments about the gameplay (puzzles, enjoyment level, interest level, etc…)?

There wasn't really any gameplay here… I mostly felt ushered along through rooms. I could even go back to rooms after being ushered out, with no ill effects. Little interaction with long textdumps, especially with several assumed player actions within them that could have been better done as gameplay. Generally felt empty.


SETUP: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Completeness: 1 (Half-Weight)
descs / cmnds covered

Presentation: 2 (Half-Weight)
setup / style / graphics

Setup, Overall: 2 (Relevant)

Setup comments (descriptions, commands covered, presentation, etc…) or other comments?

See gameplay comments. A lot is mentioned, but little is implemented (I think "a Blood Splatters" is the only implemented object I came across), commands could use better cuing. How come I don't have an inventory? Lots of work remains to be done here.


OTHER: Score (out of 5 each) (Weight/Relevance)

Competition (If Applicable): 5 (Full Weight)
kept rules / spirit of comp

Other, Overall: 5 (Relevant)

What did you most dislike about the game, and how could this be improved?

See my above comments. If I had to pick an immediate remedy, it would be for implementation issues, but I think the writing in general could use some work.

What did you like best about the game?

It's ambitious, and it has vampires.

Any other comments?

This author should hang in there and hone his technique. Share work with others and actively seek critique from other writers. Try attending a workshop. Play more interactive fiction. There is potential here, it just needs the ninja-level skill to match it.

 


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