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Shadow of the Past Reviews 
Author: Catherine Post
Date: 2005
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by David Whyld (Reviews Exchange 7)

Overall I liked Shadow Of The Past but there were some glaring errors in it. The journal I was carrying in my canvass bag (which has to be referred to as "canvass bag" and not just "bag"), has a lock on that can be opened with a key found in another location. Only I was able to read the journal with it still being locked. In fact, it wasn't until I found the key and was told it bore similar markings to the journal that I even knew there was a lock on the journal.

There was also the bigger issue with the lever in the cage: namely, that it's not even mentioned in the game! I ran into pretty much a dead end after I'd been playing for about twenty minutes: I'd been everywhere, examined everything, tried all manner of different things (including dying unexpectedly by touching a certain item that was just crying out to be touched) and couldn't seem to progress any further. As there were no hints in the game (always a bad thing as far as I'm concerned), I went to the Generator and discovered a task involving a lever in the cage. Puzzled that I hadn't noticed this before, I went back to the cage and had a good, long look at it. No lever. Anywhere. Yet the command PULL LEVER worked. Just as well I looked in the Generator. Oh, and there was a rope in the blocked passage but I only found that by looking in the Generator for it; for some reason, it's not listed in the room description so to all intents and purposes it's completely invisible to the player.

On a more positive note, it was a nicely written game. Good descriptions for the items that could be examined, although the number that didn't have a description at all was higher than I would have liked. Whether items listed in room descriptions have any direct bearing on the game or not, it's always a good idea to give them some kind of description, even if it's only a few words long.

Aside from the obvious errors of invisible crucial-to-finishing-the-game items such as the lever and the rope, the game makes use of ADRIFT's in-built combat system at one point. Big mistake. Properly customised, this might not be a terrible thing but when you see this sort of thing, it's definitely not good:

Beast hits you.

> kill beast with dagger

You chop Beast with the dagger.

> kill beast with dagger

You chop Beast with the dagger. Beast hits you.

> kill beast with dagger

You chop Beast with the dagger. Beast falls down, dead.

> x beast

You cannot see Beast from here.

Now "you chop 'the' beast with the dagger" wouldn't be too bad. Or moving an examinable beast to the same room as the player when it dies. But when I read things like "beast hits you" and "beast falls down, dead" and then try to examine the beast that I've just killed only to find it's vanished into thin air, it's definitely not a good sign.

A likeable enough game in its own right, but Shadow Of The Past had so many things wrong with it that need fixing that it's a hard game to recommend.

3 out of 10


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