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Where Is Richard? Reviews
Author: Rich Dersheimer
Date: 2001
ADRIFT 3.9


Reviewed by Duncan Bowsman

Not altogether unwelcome or unpleasant, 'Where is Richard?' struck me as a quick play that's just... bland. There is still some satisfaction in overcoming it, at least, and it is logically done.

I can't think of exactly what thematic content the thing explores, if any. One's friend disappears in a Tardis and so you chase him down, but don't really learn anything along the way. We hardly interact with the missing man, but we do get to raid his whole house and learn a bit about him from that. Still, Richard feels more or less like a cardboard cut-out token standing in place for a close friend.

From all the healing items and weapons one gets early on, it seems to me like 'Where is Richard?' was supposed to have a more thoroughly implemented combat system, but as it is there's only one fight and it's treated basically like any other puzzle. It's a fight against a creative monster, but it's so sudden without being surprising and the solution is so simple, it's hard to say that scene amounts to much.

Descriptions are mostly functional, but this means they often serve to disrupt the establishment of mood in any given scene. Finding Richard's house empty and trying to search him down could make us feel something, but then all the descriptions of household objects are written as though they come from a catalog rather than, say, a suspense thriller. Later on, many rooms are just lists of exits, and are more like level padding that the game could have done without.

The game does contain several ADRIFTisms that are likely to be thought of as downright brokenness by any unfamiliar with the language. For example, typing anything other than >LOOK AT PICK AX when carrying it gives the response, "You are already carrying the miner's pick." There's the usual situation where >PRESS BUTTON works, but not >PUSH BUTTON. At one point, a room description mentions an unimplemented handle that still must be pulled. These things are misleading and problematic.

The final puzzle, at least, has multiple solutions, though it turns out the one I felt was most heavily suggested by the game is actually just a red herring. Figuring out some puzzle solutions at least felt more like a challenge than a frustration, since (despite running in desperation to others for hints after a few turns, there being none in the game to help) I was able to solve them all on my own, before I heard back from others.

Overall, it's a pretty quick game, not especially imaginative, but beatable. You could do worse in a choice of a game, but it wouldn't be too hard to do better, either. Play it if you love instant oatmeal and want a game to match.


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