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Sophie's Adventure Reviews
Author: David Whyld
Date: 2003
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Andrew Krywaniuk

First impression: Hmm... intro seems promising. Bedroom has nice descriptions, right down to the gremlin under the bed. Lovely description of the TV room as well. 

Unfortunately, there are some bugs... just minor ones at first, but as the game goes on they get worse and worse. Right off the bat, I pick Grolch as my companion but I somehow end up with Snitch. (Then later when I rendezvous at the castle, the dwarves are again talking about Grolch.)My favorite bug: 

> n 

You can't go that way, but you can go north, ... 

One of the best parts of this game is the very elaborate conversation system. There's plenty of detail, and some priceless responses. E.g. ask Moper about dying: "When I was in the army we used to die on a daily basis and any bloke what went for a week without dying got a damn good kicking for being such a girl." 

On the other hand, this is one of those games where if you say the wrong thing then people will shut up and never talk to you again. Usually you can tell when this has happened, but it took me awhile to realize it was forever. That means lots of saving and restoring, and it only gets worse during the later stages of the game (the 6 doors, etc). 

> open door 

You can't open the doors! 

> open door 1 

(works) 

> put chisel in mouth 

You can't put anything in the statue's mouth 

Can't I? There are two examples of an inappropriate default response, and the latter part of this game is full of them. I can't throw the snowball or ring the bell. I can't press the button (but I can push it). Several of the most egregious errors had to do with saving the game. At one point, I typed "save" and the game interpreted it as "south"!?! Then there was the time when I restored a game and lost all my spells. 

Near the end, the game got buggier and buggier. It kept telling me that I didn't know spells I had learned or that I had already used up spells that I hadn't. Even the walkthrough didn't work so I couldn't finish the game. What a letdown; what initially looked to be one of the year's best games turned out to be a colossal disappointment. 

Furthermore, this game is long. (I must have spent 10-12 hours playing it.) The author mentioned something about this being the first game in a series. The way I see it, it is a series. Sophie's adventure is like 3 games in one (gathering crystals, 6-doors, evil fortress). If the author had entered just the first part as his game, I would have been happy to play part 2 when it was ready. 

The higher they rise, the harder they fall. 


Reviewed by Cannibal

There is a genre that does make me cringe. It's comedy. I don't really get comedy in IF - it just doesn't work for me. With that in mind, it's unlikely that many of David Whyld's games will appeal to me. That's not to say they are not any good - or that they are - it's just that zany humour doesn't really hit the spot for me (although Jim Pond did). 

So, onto this game... 

I first played Sophie's Adventure before Christmas and I didn't like it one bit. However, I never wrote a review or gave any feedback simply because the most I could muster would have been "I didn't like it" - which isn't that helpful to anyone. I simply thought "here we go again, this seems just the same as the last game, it's too much the same, write another Lair of the Vampire instead..." 

However, I like to give every game at least a second chance. Now, I'm playing the Sophie's Adventure once more and it's certainly a far more enjoyable experience. I'm nowhere near the end, I'm probably nowhere near half way through, but it's a decent game. 

There are good and bad things about the adventure and whether this will effect how David Whyld pens his next game is a mute point. Writers look for feedback. What writers do with that feedback is their choice. No one can say that feedback is right or wrong - it's opinion and, in this instance, my opinion. 

The bits I liked... 

The story, despite reminding me of Alice in Wonderland (no shame there), was quirky and appealing. Playing a child was a bit refreshing from the norm and not quite knowing what was going to happen (but knowing something was) was definitely a plus. In fact, the scenario and setting was very appealing and a positive aspect. Most, if not all, objects can be examined. Not a great deal of GTV and no obvious spelling mistakes or anything. Apparently, there are some bugs further into the game, but I haven't encountered any yet. Locations are fairly rich in detail and you can a bit of time inspecting and trying things before moving on. NPCs are cardboard cut outs and two dimensional but it doesn't seem to matter that much. Conversation tree is used which is far better than ASK NPC ABOUT SUBJECT. 

The bits I didn't like...I don't do zany humour and, thankfully, there was not too much evident (although there was some). Little bits were a tad frustrating - looking behind or under a static object would reply in the same way as looking at it - this should be different. I was able to look through a window but not look out of window - both really should be recognised. Being able to talk to father but not talk to dad was also a minor grumble. The NPCs were cardboard thin and a bit predictable, more fleshing out would round the experience more. 

Overall, a game I can recommend. You'll probably need a walkthrough to complete it - but who has completed that many adventures without one. 

7/10


Reviewed by C#M

Pros: Humorous, strong protagonist 

Cons: It's an ADRIFT game, which means the text is lime green on black and permanently damages your retinas if you look at it for too long. Oh, and there's a few bugs, too 

Final Score: 8 + 1 (for originality and entertaining NPCs) - 1 (for bugs in the conversation system, at least one of which renders the game unwinnable) = EIGHT 

This game is quite good for something made with ADRIFT. In fact, it's quite good, period, and if it doesn't make it into the top ten I will rip out the intestines of every voter who gave it a score lower than 6 and sell them to the sausage industry, yes I will. Sophie's personality comes across loud and clear and the NPCs are always fun to interact with. In fact, I didn't particularly care whether or not I could manage to beat it because it was just so much fun exploring the game world. Perhaps the author of _little girl in the big world_ could learn a thing or two from this game... 

There were bits where it dragged, and bits where it got annoying in its meta-ness, but overall _Sophie's Adventure_ was lighthearted and thoroughly enjoyable. Oh, one thing: it also contained a rather baffling bug that should have been caught three seconds into playtesting. The bathroom is listed as an exit outside Sophie's room, but, well, there is no bathroom. Good game, nonetheless. 


Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

Hmm. Ok, it's a better parody than Amnesia, and has some genuinely funny bits, even though Generic Fantasy is pretty well-trod ground for satire ever since Bored of the Rings. Unfortunately, it's also pretty long; probably too long for a comp game, and definitely long enough to overstay its welcome as a light parody. This is made more true by the long infodumps that occur with distressing regularity. Coding-wise it's reasonably done but not brilliant: I ran into a fair amount of missing-phrasings and similar, and there was one bizarre point where the disambiguation for the crystal objects seemed to be completely broken and had to be hacked around by the author. I got through the first bit of the game on my own, the next bit with the walkthrough, and then for the last bit of the game the walkthrough failed me (sigh). So I cannot tell you if the evil skeleton lord triumphs in the end, but I am thinking not. 


Reviewed by Daphne Brinkerhoff

If you're going to have a big world, and lots of characters, and lots of things to do, you're going to have to give me some kind of direction. The conversation menus couldn't keep up with what I already knew. Everything was way wordy. There was a sense of style which I can praise, a knowing irony, but after I got stuck, I realized I just didn't care what happened next. I kept meaning to go back and try to finish, but in the end, I was too distanced from the story. (4) 


Reviewed by Harry

An Adrift game. Sigh. Not my favorite system. But now I am just being sour. I should cast off my preconceptions and just play the thing. And after an insufferable load time (on an AMD II 400Mhz that is unacceptable for a text game) it starts.

Sigh. Another bedroom. 

But at least the description is somewhat cynical. And then some aimless wandering. Why isn't there any explanation about who I am and what I am supposed to do? Ah wait, there is a back story. Why isn't that just the prologue? And why do I have to press space after every six lines? But at least it's not terribly written. Unfortunately it's not great either. Also, mentioning Harry Potter every other sentence doesn't help. 

But then it takes off. It's rather illogical but it works. Writing gets a bit better. Pratchett meets Rowling? And a dwarf named after a famous Dutch beer... Hmm. And then the dwarves know starwars. This isn't getting better. Still, it has its charm. If I were more in the mood I might rate it higher. Now: a 5. 


Reviewed by Jessica Knoch

Okay, I got the ADRIFT thing going for me. This game starts off wonderfully enough: you play Sophie, a young girl in a normal-seeming house (which eerily reminds me of the house in Harry Hol's entry in IntroComp 2003). Then, dwarves come by and explain that you are the Chosen (tm) and must come with them to Save Their World. This is excellent. The game begins in such an intense, funny way that I was almost reminded of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The difference is Adams keeps up the pace, where Sophie's Adventure drops you off in a vast, plain landscape with a single dwarf and says, "Get to it -- I haven't got all day," though not in so many words. 

Actually, the problem was that I didn't have all day. The purported goal was to get to a certain tower. Well, I managed to do that, finally, with some interesting puzzles in a small medieval-type town, but the game wasn't over. In fact, that's when the oddness really started. The glitches started too -- I arrived at the tower with Randle the dwarf in tow, only to be informed that Randle and three other dwarves had already showed up at the tower. There were also nouns that weren't implemented, and tons of possible actions not accounted for. 

Speaking of actions not accounted for, the game seems to have an odd way of getting NPCs to do things. In order to have your dwarf companion attack, you must first try to do it. But the command "kill man" gives a response in which you turn to your dwarf companion and incite him to violence! That wasn't what I said to do. Similarly, throughout a large part of the game, when I came across a dead body I tried "x body" or "search body" only to be rebuffed. But later, there's one particular body that the walkthrough (yes, I was using the walkthrough by now because I only had about twenty minutes left and knew I wouldn't finish), anyway: the walkthrough says "x body." I can accept that this is the one body in the entire game that can be searched, but I wasn't prepared for the actual response to the command. In the response, the dwarf says, "Why don't you search it," and then the text describes how I search it! Couldn't you at least let me type "search body" and pretend that I have some control over the PC? 

Whew, sorry, got a bit carried away about that. It's not a bad game. It's a large game, with lots of weird actions in the walkthrough (including "get all," for which all I get are snarky messages from the parser). It actually looks like a fun, massive world to explore and adventure in, with talkable NPCs (in town, anyway), and quite a number of different ways to solve problems. I would probably enjoy spending a lot of time getting to know the rest of this game, if I accepted the lack of synonyms and verbs. The first part, anyway, is the most complete, and since that's what I saw, that's what gets judged. 

Writing/story: I like it. I'm impressed by the size of the world, even if it was only as big as I saw. I found about one spelling error, amazing for the amount of text I read. But the quality of the text faltered the closer I got to my two-hour limit. The room descriptions themselves were going on as strong and well-written as ever, but you got things like "Also here is the Torrow Crystal" tagged on to the end. Um, the Torrow Crystal is the very thing that will allow me to save the tower and my trapped dwarven friends! You'd think I would be excited, or there would at least be an interesting description of it the first time I saw it. Anyway, the game is still strong in this category: 4. 

Appeal/likeability: Nothing to excite hugely. I started off liking it a lot, but it faded fast, especially after the whole episode with Shamuel. 3. 

Bugginess/mechanics: Plenty of missing synonyms, a few bugs, some problems getting things across to the parser, and a very strange tendency to have names (of NPCs and items) showing up in the text before I found them out for myself. For instance, you walk into a store for the first time ever (and you know it's the first time because you're a little girl from another world) only to get this: "Mr. Jones, the storekeeper, is here." And I don't think everyone in the world was wearing nametags. A very sure 3 for bugginess. 

Entertainment/fun: Quite a few funny bits to start out, especially in descriptions and other text. There were no hints, but there was a walkthrough. And the puzzles that I saw were mostly good. I made it quite a ways without hints, after all. Plus, there was help available from NPCs in-game, which makes up for the lack of hints somewhat. 4. 

Special: Because I didn't finish the game in the two-hour judging limit, -2 points. [Yes, this used to be -4, but that turned out to be too harsh. This now has the effect of knocking down the final score by one full point, instead of two, which was craziness.] 

Composite score: (4+3+3+4-2)/2 = 6.0 (6) 


Reviewed by J. Robinson Wheeler

This game was my first experience with the ADRIFT system, and apart from running a little slowly on my poor old laptop (increasingly slowly the longer I played), it was a pretty good first experience. It certainly seems capable of handling a full-fledged adventure game like this one; in fact, this game is a bit too fully fledged. Once again, it's an ambitious puzzle game that's way, way too big and sprawling (and detailed in its implementation -- it takes time to examine everything and talk to everyone on your first time through, you know?) to fit into two hours of play. 

I started out playing normally, and then realized that nearly an hour had gone by and I had barely explored the map and had solved no puzzles at all. I looked at the walkthrough and noticed, with some annoyance, that I made a blind choice early on ("Which of the 5 NPCs you've just met and have no experience with do you want to have as a companion?") that was, apparently, the wrong one. Hoping to see as much of the game as possible, I decided to just follow the walkthrough as far as it would take me, and at the end of two hours I was less than halfway through the walkthrough. I played a little more after that, then realized I just didn't have the stamina. 

It's a good game with some decent writing, although the personality and attitude can be a bit cheeky or precious, and at times it got to be off-putting. What with all of the talking to people you do, and the numerous cutscenes, and the fairly detailed implementation of scenery, there is quite a lot of text in the game. It seems to have been proofed and tested fairly thoroughly, although I did notice some typos, missing words, and the occasional misspelling. The most amusing one was this: 

"Prophecized!" you shout. "Can't anyone here spell?" 

(Prophecy is a noun, prophesy is the verb.) It was also odd to see the "-ized" spelling, when the game is going to great pains to be British (assorted bins, sweet papers, colours, etc.) most of the time. Speaking of which, there are a great many references to Harry Potter throughout. It's apparently one of the favorite (sorry, favourite) books of Sophie, the PC, but one is forced to conclude that it's one of the author's favorites as well. I had to roll my eyes when Sophie was described as having an unruly mop of uncombable hair -- now where else have I seen a character described like that? 

Then suddenly a pack of dwarves arrive to bring you along on a big adventure. When this first happened, I thought of The Hobbit, and then about two paragraphs later, when they were jostling and shoving each other, I realized that it was, in fact, much more like Time Bandits. In fact, the lead dwarf is named Randle. Then some skeleton guys with scythe-like hands show up. Then a swirly portal opens and you and the dwarves fall into it and end up somewhere else. All the dwarves work for a big powerful guy. Hmm, yep, Time Bandits. 

There are a lot of self-conscious references to Monty Python and The Lord of the Rings and all the other stuff that has influenced this author and added to this grab-bag pastiche of, well, I guess clichés is a harsh label. The more I played, the more it reminded me of stories I wrote when I was in my pre- to late-teens, because I was into all that same stuff, and whenever I wrote anything, I somehow thought that making reference to all of it would be really hilarious or cool or something. These days, of course, I cringe when I look back on it. That said, I didn't find "Sophie's Adventure" to be either hilarious or cringeworthy, particularly. It just seemed like the kind of thing that would appeal much more strongly to someone else, perhaps someone younger. 

In fact, it might be a good game to recommend the next time someone pops into the newsgroup and asks for something they can foist on some youngsters to get them interested in interactive fiction. I'm not sure whether the puzzles would be too tricky or not. That deal where you pick the wrong guy to go with right off the bat is kind of annoying. It would definitely require an attention span, but I seem to recall having a rather impressive amount of dedication when I was 12 years old and playing IF for the first time. Too many of the puzzles seem inadequately clued, though, and require a certain amount of reading the author's mind. This all kind of comes down to craft, and I don't see any evidence that this author is incapable of growth in this regard. 

So, I'm all up and down and of two or three minds about the whole thing. It looks to me like the work of a young person who might just have the chops to be a very good writer someday, as soon as they drop the self-referential irony, stop relying on other people's ideas, and get some guts and grit. This is, as I said, a full-fledged text adventure, and it does maintain a certain level of implementation quality that I find no fault with. Recommended for younger players. 

RATING: 7 Revised RATING: 8 


Reviewed by Lucian P. Smith

Can I say that I still don't like ADRIFT without being accused of being racist? I still don't like ADRIFT. That being said, this was a fairly competent game. It amused me in places and made me think about the puzzles a little bit in places. The writing was weak but spritely, the setting was cliche'd but enthusiastic. There were a few annoying bugs, notably not being able to choose the fighter dwarf guy, and being able to blithely walk though a huge locked gate. 

And the game was waaaaaay too long. I spent 30 minutes wandering around the house before finally looking at the walkthrough, only to find that you were supposed to leave the house in the first three moves. (Speaking of bugs, I'd count not listing your front door as an exit counts as a pretty big one.) Then I spent another hour noodling around the next bit, got basically stuck, took a look at the walkthrough, vaguely followed that for a bit more, and when 2 hours were up, realized I was maybe 1/5 of the way through the walkthrough. Oy. I am taking one point away from this game because it was too long. A game of this length doesn't belong in the Annual Comp. If you must comp it, send it to Adam for the Spring Thing. There, I've said my bit. 


Reviewed by Michael Coyne

Tagline Summary: The adventure: finding the original plot device. 

Well, I'd never downloaded or played an Adrift game before, so I installed the shiny new Adrift Runner, Version 4.00, Release 41. How exciting! 

The introductory "Background" section is competent, and the initial "Sophie's Room" location seems well-implemented. The objects mentioned in the room description are examinable, and everything seems decently written. A minor quibble about "open desk" not working, but otherwise, it shows promise. 

I try "get all" in the bedroom, only to be yelled at by the game, as it tells me that 'get all' isn't going to work, as it makes things too easy. This is rather vexing, as I now have to peer closely at the room description and attempt to take every item individually, just to find out what can be taken and what 
cannot. 

In the upstairs hallway location, the punctuation starts to get a little odd, the writing going down a notch or two. Well, that's okay. I still have an open 
mind. 

The bathroom to the north--let's try that. Typing 'n' gets the response "You can't go in that direction, but you can move north, northwest, west, southwest and down.". Didn't I just try north? 

I'll try northeast then. Hmmm. "You can't go in that direction, but you can move north, west and down." Strange. 

I'll try north again. It still doesn't work. How about 'enter bathroom'? That produces "Just a direction will do." I beg to differ. 

I try going into my sister's room a few times, and end up with a magical credit card, which disappears from inventory every time I try to walk downstairs (not a bug, the game mentions it disappearing). So I try the obvious solution: 'put card in pocket'. BLAM! One run-time error. Game over. 

I restart in a somewhat less-optimistic mood, and head downstairs, where I encounter my first annoyance with ADRIFT and disambiguation. Here, 'open drawer' produces "You can't open that.", while 'open chest of drawers' produces "Which drawer? There are two in the chest of drawers - upper and lower." Typing 'upper' or 'lower' at this point doesn't resolve the issue, as I'm used to with other parsers. 

I wander around the house for a little while. Let me just take the opportunity to mention that this is the first game I'm playing, and I'm already sick of houses. I hate wandering around people's houses in interactive fiction. I don't like it. 

Ah, the Aged Ps! Why are parents in interactive fiction games always so stereotyped? For once, I'd like to meet a father who isn't busy with a computer or television, and a mother who does something other than prepare food, cook and clean. 

After the well-implemented bedroom, the rest of the house seems a little sketchy, with easy-to-anticipate actions not handled sensibly. For example, 'turn tv off' (in the hopes of rousing dad) produces "You can't turn the widescreen tv off." Why not? Is the knob broken? Do I need the remote to do so? Would dad kill me? Am I technologically inept? 

Similarly, trying to put something on the dining room table results in finding out that "You can't put anything onto the dining room table." Am I vertically challenged? I don't mind if actions are disallowed, but give me an interesting message. The response in these cases tell me that these fairly predictable actions weren't foreseen by the author. 

It is upon opening the front door that I realise that ADRIFT seems unsure of the size of my screen. All long dumps of text seem to wrap off the top before the MORE button appears, resulting in continual scrollback. I resize the window a number of times, but the end result is always that about half a screenful of text ends up scrolling off the screen. 

It's also upon opening the door that I run into the cheap rip-off of Time Bandits. Over the commotion of the dwarves, I dimly hear the sound of David Rappaport spinning in his little grave over the "Randle" (sic) character. 

It was at this point that the game descended into what seemed to be a series of cheap rip-offs of various stories and adventures, from Monty Python's to Harry Potter and various other works. 

Anyway, I end up in the cave, and select Grolsch as the dwarf to take with me. I did this mostly because the conversation sentence for that topic was so intriguing: "Grolsch, I need someone to protect me and it looks like being me". Very Zen. Or maybe it's a reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the importance of self-reliance. Regardless, I choose 3, and the "other dwarves" leave. I am clearly left with Grolsch, as he utters a few sentences. However, when I leave the cave, Snitch is following me instead! Very odd. Grolsch has vanished without a trace. I can only hope that some passing aliens have a matter reconstituter and can bring him back for me (preferably not in a gold loincloth though). 

I make my way to the eastern beach and the statue, where I attempt 'x statue', which yields "You can't see the stone statue from here!", which is a little odd--especially as I could examine it when I was further away from it. "Talk to statue" results in "You can't see the stone statue." 

Well, to cut a lengthy story short, I continue playing. At one point, I foolishly type 'get all' again, but this time it works! Well, why was I told it 
didn't work the first time I tried it? ARGH. 

I start referring heavily to the walkthrough in order to get through the part with the crystals and the doors, but an inadvertent slip of the fingers means I exit one of the crystal rooms before getting the crystal. The door seals, and I can't go back. At this point, I quit in frustration. 

Author Encouragement: 
This is an encouraging first start. I think a more original story, with some more of your own ideas would work well. 

You might want to investigate an authoring system like TADS or Inform. It will free you up from a lot of the painful programming hoops you might have had to jump through (such as the disambiguation with the crystals), leaving you more time to concentrate on the game itself. 

Bedroom Notes: 
There's not really much of anything to do in the house part of the game. I recommend finding a better way to transport Sophie into the adventure. Many objects in the house are under-implemented in any case, but I spent a fair bit of time fumbling around in the house trying to find some hint of Sophie's presents, thinking that was the real premise of the story. When I finally opened the front door, and realised that the real game had nothing to do with the house, it made me wonder why the house was implemented at all. 

Scoring: 
W: 2 
The basic plot is rather silly, very much on rails, and doesn't make a lot of sense. It seems to be the result of grafting together ideas from a lot of sources. The writing seemed promising in the background and initial location, but fell off very quickly. Some spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes. 

A: 2 
Generally unappealing, but not actively offensive. Just not terribly interesting. 

B: 2 
Fatal crash upon trying "put card in pocket", asked for Grolsch to accompany me, got Snitch instead. Happened to open doors inside Arliss's tower in a different order than in the walkthrough. I did not have or see an item mentioned in walkthrough when doing a particular door, so left the room before finishing everything. It was then no longer possible to go back. I could not finish the game. Also, there was one particular scenery object that needed to be opened. I would never have thought of that, as examining the item gave NO indication that opening it was required or even possible. 

E: 2 
I did not find this particularly fun or entertaining. Where the humour wasn't simply insipid, it was childish or predictable. Many of the puzzles involved performing illogical unconnected actions, or simply walking into a location in order to solve them. Numerous plot elements were lifted from other works--drawing attention to a shameless parody by openly referring to it in the game as a shameless parody does not render it any less shameless. 

WABE score: 4 


Reviewed by Norman Perlmutter

This game is may not be all that great objectively, but for some reason, I really enjoyed it. The humor really clicked with me, and the game seems to flow without too much effort on the player's part, while still being very interactive. One other reason I might have liked it was that it involves an evil wizard, power crystals, and saving the world, as did my 2001 comp game (The Cruise). 

The game proved to me that Adrift is a viable IF authoring system. Because it is written in Adrift, it has a different feel and style from TADS and Inform games, but it is still good. It is has many long blocks of narrative and/or dialogue, which some players may dislike, but the writing is good. Sophie's Adventure is also the only game in the comp to implement a menu-based conversation system. The same items sometimes pop up again on the menus, but overall, the conversation system works well with the game because it allows the author to implement a large number of NPCs with a lot of dialogue for each. 

The game is fairly easy, but also fairly long - I think I got about halfway through it in the two hours. It does have a couple of serious bugs, but they did not interfere with my enjoyment of the game because the game's main strength is its humorous writing rather than its puzzles. It sort of feels like a modern RPG for the PC with lots of conversation, minus the fighting and graphics. This game also has replayability because you can choose among several companions at the beginning of the game. (Actually it might force you into picking a specific one - I'm didn't check - at least it gives the illusion of replayability in that case). 

I would not recommend this game to people who want to play a game that follows a strict IF style, but for people willing to try a text adventure in a different style, I strongly recommend it. 


Reviewed by Paul O'Brian

Here are some things about this game: It is cute. It is buggy. It is huge. About "cute": the whole thing is written from the perspective of 8-year-old Sophie, the daughter of a couple of retired magic-users, both of whom seem sunk well into strangeness now, but then again perhaps they'd look a little different through someone else's eyes. There were many moments in the game that brought a smile or a chuckle, and much of the writing found a place between overly edgy and overly twee. Sophie has a rather hardheaded perspective, or so she seems to think anyway, and while she's really rather spoiled, she does have some valid points about the foibles of those around her. For instance, her mother has an inexplicable predilection for decorating in bright colors, and Sophie quite reasonably finds things like her painfully bright quilt rather difficult to stomach: 

> x bed
It's hard to look at your bed with the colourful quilt lying across over it like that but you know there's nothing very interesting in it because you were lying there only a few minutes ago. You remember when you were a kid (well, a younger kid than you are now anyway) you used to worry that there was an evil gremlin that lived under the bed who would creep out after nightfall and eat you. But when you got a bit older you realised that no self-respecting gremlin would be seen anywhere near a bed with a quilt like that. 

> look under bed
You look under the bed, searching for the gremlin you were convinced as a child was under there. 

Nope, no sign of him. 

Writing like this lends a wonderfully strong personality to Sophie as a PC. The NPCs, too, are distinctive and interesting, and the menu-based dialogue can be a source of great amusement. On the basis of the writing (leaving out, for now, the issues of "buggy" and "huge"), I'm strongly inclined to recommend this game for kids, except for the fact that there are several parts that are outright gruesome. Sophie encounters gory battlefields, piles of corpses waiting to be burned, and dead bodies lying in pools of blood. Now, I don't have kids, and haven't read children's books for a while, so I don't have a good sense of what are considered "appropriate" levels of gore and violence in those stories. I'm also a believer that what's appropriate for kids isn't so much determined by their ages as their personalities. Nevertheless, just because Sophie is 8 doesn't mean the game would be great for any 8-year-old. Personally, I was able to ignore the gore, and so found it charming, though it would have been a lot more charming were it not so buggy and huge. About "buggy": Sophie's Adventure breaks frequently, and often in the most unexpected ways. For instance, this exchange: 

> n
You can't go in that direction, but you can move north, northwest, west, 
southwest and down. 

> north
You can't go in that direction, but you can move north, northwest, west, 
southwest and down. 

> go north
You move north. 

I've had games forget to implement exits before, or forget to mention them in the exits list, but I don't think I've ever seen a game that forgets in one place to make the directional abbreviations available. I'm surprised ADRIFT even makes this possible -- I can't think how it would happen in a more robust development system. Speaking of ADRIFT, all its parser deficiencies are still hanging around like unwelcome guests: the way it pretends to understand more than it does, the way it asks questions but doesn't listen to the answers, and the way it totally ignores prepositions (LOOK UNDER = LOOK BEHIND = LOOK IN = EXAMINE, except when it doesn't.) Another bizarre way that Sophie's Adventure frequently breaks is in its menu-based conversations; once out of every 20 or so times, the game just wouldn't understand when I'd enter a number to choose a menu option. There wasn't any pattern to this that I could discern -- the broken choices might be first, middle, or last entries in the menu. It was always very aggravating when it would happen. The game is broken in larger ways, too, or at least it seemed so to me. Several times, I'd get information that suggested a roadblock puzzle -- you know, the old "you can't go this way until you perform this task for me" routine. However, if I simply walked in the forbidden direction: success! No puzzle-solving required. This is either a bug or head-scratchingly odd design. There are also tons of typos throughout the game, some quite hilarious ("It also looks remarkably similar to Golem in Lord of the Rings.") All in all, the game is a couple of betatesting rounds away from being ready for release, and maybe more, given that it's probably difficult to test because it's so huge. 

About "huge": there's no maximum score listed in Sophie's Adventure, so I'm not sure how many points are possible, but after two hours with it, I'd scored two points. There's also apparently a "niceness" score, which not only never changed, but never even seemed to offer any opportunity to change. Also, even after circumventing quite a few puzzles via the bugs mentioned above, I still think I'd only seen a fraction of the game's locations. I already gave my spiel on too-big-for-the-comp games in my review of Risorgimento Represso, and most of those points apply here as well. However, where that game felt disappointing because I hated to rush through something created with such skill and care, Sophie's Adventure evinces sort a flip side to that problem, which is that gigantic games are much harder to get right. I boggle at the amount of work that must have gone into this game, and so I don't mean to badmouth it, but at the same time, I can't help but feel it would be a much better game if it were much smaller in scope. Fewer locations, fewer puzzles, fewer things to go horribly wrong. It goes without saying that this game is totally inappropriate for the comp because of its size, but I wonder if it's simply the wrong size full stop. I say this because frequently, object and room descriptions seemed freighted with resentment for even having to be written: 

As cracks go it's not a very interesting one and you kind of wonder why you're even taking the time to examine it. 

Somehow you doubt the fate of the world relies on you examining rat droppings. 

East Road 
The land from here on eastwards is desolate to the point of having a not-very-finished look to it. If anything, it looks like whoever was given the job of designing this landscape got bored and decided to just scribble in a few trees and bushes and leave it at that. [...] 

There's the straightforward problem with these that I don't know whether something is interesting until I examine it, so would rather not be chastised for wasting my time, but there's also this: when the descriptions themselves start complaining about being boring, there's probably too much stuff in the game. I think the best thing that could happen to Sophie's Adventure would be if it were scaled back considerably (say to a size that is finishable in two hours), tested and proofread much more thoroughly, and entered in the comp in that tighter and stronger form. Too late for all of that now -- I won't be returning to this game after the way it aggravated me -- but these lessons can be learned for future games, by this author and others. Rating: 3.0 


Reviewed by Quintin Stone

Score: 5 

A large game I found more notable for its bugs than anything else. Each is minor, but taken together they really bring down the quality. (For example, the second room proclaims an exit that doesn't exist, I repeatedly got dropped out of conversation menus with no explanations, my score once "increased" from 2 to... 2, the walkthrough doesn't match the map, and the game performed an action I typed right after telling me it was impossible.) It definitely could have done with a lot more beta testing. After a while I tried to turn to the walkthrough, but since I couldn't get that to work and I didn't get the impression I had advanced very far, I gave up. 


Reviewed by MathBrush

This was David Whyld's first IFcomp game.

This game is just really, really big, with tons of conversations and features.

It's just too big; page after page of text dumps make it difficult to pay attention to what you're trying to do.

It involves a fantasy land where everyone references american pop culture and you learn DnD spells.


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