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Mystery Manor Reviews
Author: Mystery
Date: 2002
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

Hee hee. Stepping through the upstairs, I see one description that tells me the flashes of lightning show a second shadow in the room even though I'm all alone, and then the next room over mentions a mysterious cold draft, and then the next room has a ghost with spikes in his head, and then a headless woman walks into the room and so on and so on. Presumably the author was under the impression that if one ghost is scary, twenty ghosts is twenty times as scary, and a ghost every turn is as scary as possible. In fact, It Does Not Work Like That.


Reviewed by Demian Katz

This is a fairly familiar horror story -- the broken-down car, the haunted house, the thunderstorm.... Fortunately, I like these cliches, so I found the 
game somewhat enjoyable, for a while at least. Still, it's far from wonderful -- the writing, in addition to being thoroughly cliched and obvious, is pretty weak and incoherent much of the time, and the game itself is ludicrously short despite having a large amount of territory to explore. To make matters worse, the ADRIFT interpreter once again draws my wrath: I was stuck at one point because for some reason an action didn't work when I used the "x" abbreviation but did work when I used the full word "examine." The abbreviation normally works just fine, so I'm not sure what was going on here! If not for the very useful automap, I'd be tempted to say that ADRIFT has no redeeming features. I'd almost certainly have ended up rating this game higher if it had been written in, say, TADS or Inform.


Reviewed by Eric Mayer

MYSTERY MANOR by Mystery is another Adrift game. This uses that system's soon-to-be-improved (in the next version I'm told) ability to use sounds and pictures. I don't much like pictures in IF. What I value in IF is its simplicity, that it relies on words. I really, really don't like music. Sorry, 
Mystery, I am being perverse mentioning that here because the music is well selected in Mystery Manor, very atmospheric, but I am a person whokeeps the sound turned off on his computer. I don't want my word processor dinging at me when I make an error, or choirs of angles singing when Windows opens. Computers ought to be seen, not heard. Life is noisy enough without all those electronic chimes and beeps and whistles. 

By the way. Mystery Manor shows that you can write a good solid traditional game in Adrift. The haunted house is extensive and exceedingly well described, in words!


Reviewed by Paul O'Brian

I played this game on Halloween. I was alone in the house. The lights were off. There was a full moon outside. I was experiencing an eerie lull in the 
trick-or-treating. I could not have been more primed to be creeped out, frightened, and made into a paranoid wreck. Sadly, even when conditions are perfect, this game falls far short of effectiveness in the creep-out arena. The only thing that's really scary about it is its writing. Observe, IF YOU DARE: 

A swirl of icey air rushes past you, with bringing the sound of a womans screams. Just as you are about to make a run for it , the bloody decapitated 
body blocks your way. Holding her head in front of your face, so she may get a good look at you, the bloody head whimpers, "You are not the one" with that the ghost flees with a ear piercing scream. 

Hmm, let's see. "Icey" instead of "icy". "With bringing the sound"? "Womans screams" instead of "woman's screams". Bizarre space before the comma (following "run for it".) "The" bloody decapitated body? It was never mentioned before this. "Holding her head... the bloody head whimpers" -- very funny misplaced modifier. "With that" should begin a new sentence, and there should be a period after "the one". "A ear piercing scream" instead of "an ear-piercing scream". And that's just three sentences! It's too bad this game didn't give out points every time I spotted an error, because if it did, I think I'd have earned 524,000 points out of a possible 200, earning me the rank of Gibbering Grammarian. 

Oh, or how about this: forget the writing errors -- what if the game gave out points every time I spotted an implementation error! Man, I'd have scored big-time during scenes like this: 

LOOK 
You are in the dining room [...] The room is dark, lit only by reflections from lightning outdoors. 

X TABLE 
This is a nostalgic oak dining table. The surface reflects the overhead lighting. It has a beautiful oak finish. 

So the table's surface reflects the overhead lighting, even when there is no overhead lighting! Oooh, spooky! Elsewhere, a whiskey bottle contains more spirits than just the alcoholic kind: 

OPEN BOOZE 
You open the bottle of whiskey. 

DRINK WHISKEY 
I don't think you'll get anything out of the bottle if it isn't opened. Your mouth is dry, palms moist. 

OPEN BOOZE 
The bottle of whiskey is already open! 

DRINK WHISKEY 
I don't think you'll get anything out of the bottle if it isn't opened. Your mouth is dry, palms moist. 

I keep opening it, but some invisible force stops me from drinking it! Don't look now Scooby, but I think that whiskey bottle is... HAUNTED! Too bad, because I could really have used a belt at that point. 

Then there were the numerous problems that were probably ADRIFT's fault rather than the game's. There's the famous "Nothing special" line whenever you EXAMINE , including EXAMINE PARSER. Always a pleasure. There are the pop-up graphics that I think failed to pop up. (I'm guessing this based on the fact that I had files like "UfloorPL.bmp" in my directory, yet X UPPER FLOOR PLAN yielded no graphics.) There are the "cannot draw map -- too complex" errors that the mapper gave me EVERY SINGLE FREAKING TURN after a while. There's this sort of 
interaction: 

X REFRIGERATOR 
It is a large stainless steel refrigerator, with magnets strewed about the surface. You don't notice any kind of fingerprints or smudges on it. The 
refrigerator is closed. 

OPEN REFRIGERATOR 
You open the refrigerator. 

LOOK IN REFRIGERATOR 
It is a large stainless steel refrigerator, with magnets strewed about the surface. You don't notice any kind of fingerprints or smudges on it. The 
refrigerator is open. 

Yes, I know it's open, but what's inside it? Apparently the ADRIFT parser searches on keywords and just ignores those other tiresome words that might happen to surround the keywords, thus neatly avoiding pretty much the entire concept of prepositions. My favorite extreme example of this tendency (from this game anyway): 

[THIS SUPPOSEDLY SCARY STUFF STARTS TO GET REALLY BANAL AFTER A WHILE] 
Take what? 

"Hey man," says the ADRIFT parser, "I don't care what else you say -- as long as you type "GET" anywhere in there, I'm going to ask, 'Take what?' Um... not that I'll be able to handle it if you actually answer me." Okay, one more example then I promise I'll quit: 

LIE IN BED 
You can't lie in the bed. 

LIE ON BED 
You can't lie on the bed. 

LIE DOWN 
You lie down on the ground. 

LIE DOWN ON BED 
I don't understand what you want me to do with the bed. 

GET UP 
You stand up. 

LIE DOWN ON BED 
You stand on the bed. 

Yay! Endless hours of fun. Not the sort of fun that the game seems to expect me to be having, but still. The endless well of humor from a terrible game was just the thing to lighten up a potentially scary Halloween night. Too bad that sort of thing doesn't factor into the rating. 

Rating: 2.3 


Reviewed by TDS

You have been traveling on dirt roads for a while trying to find the estate you purchased because the family that was there went missing. Naturally you crash and happen to arrive at the place with your car mangled. The intro starts off strong and I start to get into the mood when a particular sentence messes up the whole atmosphere (for me at least).

"You dismiss all the stories of alien abduction, just walking away from their lives, a crazy murderer killing them and eating their rotting flesh. It is all nonsense to you. You'll have plenty of time to go through the house, and just maybe find out the truth. You will figure out what to do about your car later."

I feel that sentence sounds awfully familiar and maybe if it was reworded in a different way it wouldn't sound so bad. The player also wants to explore the house before getting for the totaled car....

But those minor problems shouldn't detract from the game as whole, until you find out the cheesiness in the intro foreshadows whats to come in the game. At one point a man with "spiked blades impaled through his chin" just looks at me and leaves the house. A decapitated woman walks around holding her head every now and then. The blood on a blood-stained towel takes the shape of a face. Oh, and I get sudden chills!

From the start of the game you find out that every room is detailed to an average of six lines. This wouldn't be bad if the manor wasn't so huge and I had a direction of what to do next. The sheer amount of text alone will bog down anyone. After reading one room that is six lines long you see that you can move east, west, north, south, and up to another room just as long. The game only has 3 lock and key puzzles, but you spend a while examining every little detail in every room trying to find them. Sometimes you'll examine a key object needed and it'll say it's not there. It turns out you have to 'examine' it not 'x' it. Or sometimes it just wasn't implemented. Even more bugs and errors in the game but I think I've shown enough to prove the point.

The long descriptions but lack of some details make me think this project was rushed. If this game was more compact, better thought out, and just overall more of a complete package it'd be a sure winner. This however, is not horrible, just boring. 

4/10


Reviewed by MathBrush

This is a game with a big map but only 2 or 3 puzzles. You explore a creepy house (with some timed text effects at the beginning, creepy music/sound effects, and a popup image in the middle that's not supposed to be scary).

I ran this on Adrift 3.9. Like all adrift games, it has major problems. This game also has big text dumps.


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