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Rachel's Bad Day Reviews
Author: Sly Old Dog (original), Roger Pepitone (port)
Date: 2005
ADRIFT 4.0


What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction. If you likely to be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not to open these files.


Reviewed by A. Bomire (Review of original ADRIFT version)

Overall Thoughts 

First of all, this review is based upon the original game released by Sly Dog, not the later port of the game to Inform. I've actually never played the latter, and many of the problems pointed out in this review may have been resolved in that version. 

Sly Dog has written a lot of games, and all of them are about forcing women into having sex through one means or another: using drugs, blackmail, even rape. This game is no different, although it does take the viewpoint of the woman. This isn't a hardcore rape game, though, as the protagonist has a secret fetish for being forced into sex. 

Another thing Sly Dog is known for is creating games with odd commands, also known as "guess the verb". Although this game isn't as bad as some of his previous games (he comes right out and tells you what a lot of the commands are within the text of the game), be prepared to be stuck at several points. 

Puzzles/Game Play 

As I mentioned previously, this game has plenty of "guess the verb" puzzles. Even though Sly Dog tells you straight out what some of the solutions are, you still have to figure out when to use them. For example, you might be told that Rachel has to do something, and when you type that command you get a message of "Rachel doesn't know what she should do". However, at a later point in the game when you issue the command it works as it should. These sorts of things can be annoying. 

The game is very linear, with Sly Dog leading Rachel down a very specific path to the conclusion. There is rarely a chance to go back to previous scenes, which means you run the risk of leaving behind something important. Fortunately, Sly Dog lets you know right up front exactly what Rachel is supposed to do (in the game's introduction), and what items you are supposed to carry with you everywhere. This takes a little of the guesswork out of the game, and even spoils some of the ending (nothing like knowing right up front how the game is going to play out to spoil some of the surprises), but it is helpful in that you may not reach a point where what you need has been left locked away in a previous encounter. 

Technical 

As pointed out previously, there are some oddly worded commands and illogical sequences in the game. For example, in the beginning Rachel is naked. She needs to get dressed, so she opens her wardrobe. However, even though the wardrobe is described as containing her clothes - there aren't any clothes in the wardrobe. You need to "guess" to use the command "dress" to suddenly appear in your clothing. And once you're dressed, you can no longer get undressed. This sort of thing happens a lot in the game, so be sure to save often to make sure you don't miss something. 

Except - whoops! There is a huge glaring bug in the game. Once you proceed past a certain point, you can no longer save! That's right, you can't save. And this point happens pretty early in the game, so if you mess up and want to go back you have to go way back to start over. Even though Sly Dog points this out, this is still a tremendously huge bug, and in my opinion the game shouldn't have been released with this still in it. If nothing else, Sly Dog could have asked for some assistance from the helpful authors of our community. 

All of this overshadows the normal sprinkling of misspellings and grammar errors, but those should be mentioned as well. 

Sex 

The sex in this game is decent, if a bit slanted towards non-consensual, almost-rape encounters. Rachel is often forced to have sex to convince someone to do something or escape a situation. This is not something I usually enjoy either in my erotic fiction or games I play, but different players have different tastes. The fact that Rachel secretly enjoys it actually makes it more distasteful to me, but then again that may just be me. 

Intangibles 

I had to scrounge through the archives at AIF Archive to look up some of the messages about this game, because I remember it sparking off a bit of controversy. In fact, it prompted an article in the AIF Newsletter from David Whyld. Once I found the posts, it all came flooding back. The posters were basically sitting on one or the other side of the fence regarding whether this game should have been released. The main point was that Sly Dog has released a lot of games, all of them buggy. Most people felt this game had its problems, but that it wasn't nearly as bad as some people made out. Others felt that enough was enough - one or two buggy games from an author can be excused but that game after game was not acceptable. I actually support both sides: this game does indeed have its problems, but it really isn't as bad as its detractors make it out to be. The one place where I do agree with them, however, is in the "you cannot save past this point" bug. This is unacceptable, and should have been resolved before release. 

Final Thought 

Yet another buggy, "guess the verb" game by an author who should know better by now. The game overall is not badly written with a decent plot, but the technical problems drag it down. 

Rating: C-


Reviewed by David Whyld (Inside Erin: The AIF Newsletter, Volume 2 Number 1, January, 2006)

Basic Plot/Story:

You play the part of Rachel, a sex-starved woman whose boyfriend wants her to copy some files from a computer at work and then bring said files to him. 

Overall Thoughts:

I once wrote an article for the AIF Newsletter about this game, despite the fact that at the time I hadnít even played it. That might seem like a strange thing to do, but then it wasnít so much the game itself that I was commenting on as the numerous bugs in it that seemed to have the Yahoo! AIF Group up in arms. Some felt that the game was so buggy it should never have been released in the first place (I'm one of them); others felt that, as itís a free game and the author is under no obligation to make sure itís bug-free, that we should just be grateful it had been written at all. After seeing the sheer number of bugs in the game reported by people I decided to avoid it like the plague, or to at least wait until the author got round to releasing a fixed version of it.

But I've always been kind of curious as to what itís actually like. Quite a few times I've heard people say that the author, Sly Dog, has the potential to be a truly great writer of AIF, but that heís so eager to release a game that he doesnít bother testing it properly beforehand and the finished result isnít the masterpiece it could be. Most of his games, so I hear, require the player to be almost psychic to figure out the guess-the-verb issues that litter them, and the sheer number of bugs they contain are likely to have even the most affable person tearing his hair out in frustration. The strangest thing is that this has been explained to the author time and time again, and yet he seems unwilling to make even the slightest effort to improve. Itís like he enjoys people saying bad things about his games.

ButÖ

But I've always been curious. And, sooner or later, I found myself downloading Rachel Has a Bad Day just to see what all the fuss was about.

The introduction leaves a lot to be desired. And I mean a lot. Aside from completely lacking any kind of depth, it pretty much tells you the entire plot of the game, along with what you need to do. Faced with that Ė and the plot, letís face it, isn't going to be winning any awards Ė itís half tempting to just quit straight off. But I decided to persevere.

So is Rachel Has a Bad Day as buggy as itís reputed to be? Yes. Resoundingly so. I'm not sure if itís the most bugged up game I've ever played but itís certainly a contender for that title. Almost every location contains an error of one kind or another; some minor, some major, all a pain. Did the author subject the game to even the most cursory testing beforehand? I kind of doubt it. Itís pretty obvious he didnít use a beta-tester, or that he didnít bother to listen to their comments if he did.

Puzzles/Game Play:

I didnít finish the game (then again, I seem to remember someone saying it wasnít possible to finish due to errors), although I think I came pretty close. Guess-the-verb hits hard in some places, but the puzzles themselves were so easy it was a wonder why the game had any at all. Most times, the puzzles are so straightforward that I expected there to be some kind of subtle twist in them that I was missing, but no. It seems they really are that easy.

Someone later confirmed to that the ADRIFT version of the game (which is what I'm playing) canít be finished. The Inform version (ported by someone else) can be finished, but as I've no real desire to struggle through another version of the game, Iíll just have to live in ignorance of how it ends.

Sex:

Not too bad actually. While nothing particularly special, at least it seems to be free from the type of guess-the-verb problems that afflict the rest of the game. On the down side, the sex is almost comical in how over the top it is, and the excruciatingly bad dialogue that peppers it is more laughable than stimulating. There's also the problem that the majority of the sex is forced on Rachel, or is in rather unpleasant circumstances (masturbating while a tramp looks on or being forced to suck someoneís semen from your fingers), and the portrayal of the main character as an empty-headed bimbo doesnít help.

Certain elements of the game deal with the darker side of the AIF scene. While trying to get money for a taxi, Rachel can have a dog lick her (where she gets licked Iíll leave to your imagination but as this is an AIF game you can probably guess) and she can slap and spit on another woman in a hardcore video. Later, in order to get something she needs at the airport, she even has sex with an underage boy Ė at his fatherís instigation. I've written a few games with edgy adult scenes in them myself but I found myself wincing a little at some of the stuff that can happen here; itís as if the author decided to put Rachel through one unpleasant experience after another, and to heck with whether it made any sense. Incidentally, it didnít make a blind bit of sense at all.

Technical:

Technically the gameís a mess. I haven't got the space here to list all of the gameís problems (not without stretching this review to ten times its current size), but the worst contenders are:

* Guess-the-verb: obvious commands are seldom covered, non-obvious ones are. RIDE BIKE wonít work but HOP ON BIKE will. GET CLOTHES isn't covered; DRESS is. MOVE DUSTBIN doesnít work but PUSH DUSTBIN does. Ouch. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that the author is deliberately going out of his way to make his game frustrating to play.

* The game is told from the viewpoint of the main character, but the majority of the default commands haven't been altered to reflect this. So quite often you'll see RACHEL TAKE THE MOBILE PHONE and RACHEL OPEN THE BEDSIDE CABINET. Surely the author noticed this? But why oh why didnít he do something about it?

* Rachel comes across as a sex-starved nutcase. Seriously. She gets turned on by riding a bike, for crying out loud! She also has the frequent habit of talking out loud to herself, often saying ridiculous things. Is she an escapee from the local lunatic asylum? Or does the author just have such a poor 
understanding of the female half of the species that he thinks this is how they really are?

* The game crashes after a certain point if you try to save it. Funnily enough, this error was even mentioned by the author before the game was released, yet rather than try and fix it he just went ahead and released it anyway. Later on the error seems to fix itself.

* To say the game is a adult one, itís amazing how even the most basic adult commands aren't covered for the most part. KISS [NAME] produces ADRIFTís default of [HE/SHE] WOULDNíT APPRECIATE THAT, while F**K [NAME] tells the player off for swearing.

* At one point, you're told that you aren't going to have sex with someone but if you try a different command then you have sex with them anyway.

* You speak to the various characters in the game in the format of TALK TO PHIL or TALK TO ERIC yet when you first meet them, you donít know their names. Phil will be described as Ďthe security guardí yet trying to TALK TO SECURITY GUARD hits you with an error message and advises you to ASK PHIL ABOUT [SUBJECT].

The sheer number of bugs in the game pretty much overwhelm everything good about it. And there *are* a few good things about it. The writing is certainly better than I was expecting. The sex scenes? Not sure. They're so ridiculously over the top as to come across as more comical than arousing. Rachel seems to see a sexual element to just about everything and I can well imagine that if someone shot her, sheíd probably climax just thinking about the bullet entering her. All in all, she's probably the poorest main character in a game I've ever come across.

Intangibles:

The characters in the game are wildly over the top. Everyone Rachel meets seems to want to have sex with her, despite the fact that at the start of the game itís stated that she's rather plain. As for the dialogue? To say it was appalling would be an overstatement. Hereís Rachelís boss:

"You've got lovely tits, Rachel," he sighs, "I love watching them bounce under your clothes. Let me scoop this one out and feel your nipple. Do you know how they stick out when you come inside after cycling to work? It's firm and rubbery now."

Firm and rubbery? Oh yes, the writer sure has got a knack for stimulating dialogueÖ

Or Lionel on the way to the airport:

"My, my, Rachel, your pussy is soft and moist. Are you sure you're not a tart after all? I can hear you begin to pant as I slide my fingers in and out of your slutty pussy. Open your legs a little more for me..." At times, the dialogue is so bad itís painful to read.

Final thoughts:

If the author ever decides to heed some of the advice heís been given in the past and make a genuine effort with his next game, as well as get someone to test it thoroughly beforehand, and listen to what they say, he might be capable of producing something pretty decent. There's the makings of a good game buried somewhere here, but there's such a godawful mess of guess-the-verb and outright errors, not to mention some terrible characterisation and fifth rate dialogue, that anything good about Rachel Has a Bad Day is just lost amidst the dross.

Rating: D+


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