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Vendetta Reviews
Author: James Hall (as Fuyu Yuki)
Date: 2005
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

Stories about super competent badasses who have No Time For Love always make me feel a little dirty, like I'm seeing parts of somebody's psyche it is embarrassing to be looking at, but nevertheless Vendetta is pretty fun. There's this bad guy who kidnaps your girlfriend, see, and even though it's not much of a relationship because your duty to humanity gives you No Time For Love, this is no job for the police. No, it is up to you to sneak into the building, kill a bunch of people, and save the day, because that is what super competent badasses do best. There is some subplot about your memory slowly returning or something, but this didn't seem to be particular important. The subplot about genetic engineering, on the other hand, provided some cool scenery and guys to fight and stuff. It was kind of irritating that the game required so much traipsing up and down between the different floors of the building (even by the walkthrough it requires a fair bit, and if you're not following it, it's more, since you keep having to go back to poke around for stuff you missed earlier). In summary, zam pow biff exciting conclusion.

P.S. I hate the game forever for disabling undo, especially since there is no game-play reason for it.


Reviewed by Mike Russo 

It's not often that I say that a particular work of IF really should have been done as conventional fiction instead, but Vendetta is among the unhappy few. The overwhelming impression I retain is of gigantic text-dumps containing lots of dialogue and action, brought on by typing a single command - which is often G. The story isn't terrible: the main character - Colonel Jem Bitter, which is possibly the best name for a sci-fi badass ever - boasts an overly complicated backstory, 
but the author does try to foreground character interactions. Still, the off-putting presentation prevents the player from really investing in things, and the protagonist's flattened affect doesn't help matters. His jaundiced, seen-it-all attitude bleeds over into the player, and as a result the game's attempts to explore themes of love and vengeance fall flat. 

The player doesn't have much agency over the story, but there are a number of puzzles to be solved. Far too many of them, unfortunately, have to do with finding and operating elevators. While the specifics do vary from floor to floor - sometimes you need to find keys, other times it's a matter of disabling guards - the building-ascent sequence goes on for much longer than it should. Too, there are a few guess-the-verb issues - the laser-beam puzzle is a particularly egregious offender - and descriptions don't always point the way through the puzzles in an intuitive fashion (saying that a desk doesn't have anything interesting on it when there's actually game-critical information there isn't playing particularly fair). 

The author is clearly trying to tell a story which is a bit more sophisticated than usual in this genre - more Blade Runner than Aliens - but the disaffected narrative voice and uninspired puzzles combine with the non-interactive storytelling techniques to undercut the story's effectiveness. There's just not much for the player to do here, and the story isn't strong enough to let the rest of the game coast.


Reviewed by Sam Kabo Ashwell

Title Suggests: Violence. Beyond that, not much.
This is a pretty fucking good candidate for Most Egregious Textdumping. The intro section is extraordinarily long, ill-delivered and tedious. Intro sections are for introduction: developments should be carried out over the course of the game, not thrown at you in a gigantic heap before the game proper with occasional perfunctory actions to break up the textdumps. By the time I'm in the main explore-and-do-stuff area, I'm already sick of this game. That is one enormous fucking design error. It is an error which, if I quit after an hour's play, will erase all possibility that I might have a pang of conscience and go back to work at it some more. It doesn't help that the protagonist has had all traces of personality (aside from a trace of sanctimonious-hero) bioengineered away. As for other motivations, well, I have:

a) save manipulative gold-digging bimbo, who I'm not even going to get busy with, since I'm psychologically asexual;
b) protect the interests of a soulless government military contractor from another soulless government military contractor,
c) track down Norman Foster and brutally kill him before he knocks off any more ill-conceived arcologies. (not in actual game)

It further doesn't help that, when you strip away the vast reams of backstory, you're left with a decidedly limp game. I really don't feel like the Awesome Super Elite Government Biotech Warrior that I'm being built up as, because I don't have any abilities that I can actually use in the course of gameplay (as opposed to in cutscenes). There's also an infuriating violation of the principle that, if you have a vital switch to flip, all the possible synonyms to do so should be implemented. Gyah. 

Rating: 4


Reviewed by N. B. Horvath 

Score 7.
Over-the-top: Oh boy, yes.
Pros: vividly imagined cyberpunk world. over-the-top in a fun way.
Cons: Puzzles were distracting. Game map too big. I didn't finish in 2 hours.


Reviewed by Timofei Shatrov

Vendetta is a good example of what you can do with Adrift, so the result doesn't suck. The result is, in fact, a very entertaining game.
The story, which involves a man with superpowers, an evil plan to take over the world and a damsel in distress, is standard, but it's
delivered well. There are some non-interactive parts where all you do is reading dialogue and pressing 'z', but there are also long
sequences where you actually have to do stuff. The puzzles are mostly easy. The only puzzle that I think is bad is the one where you have to
go back and forth through about 15 locations to bring one item to the other - this is something from 80's games where hiding key at a large
distance from the door was a popular trick to make the game harder. The number of useless locations is enormous. One can argue they add
flavor, but do you really need a whomping 10 locations for a parking lot, or 16-locations lengthen electric fence? This is something you
don't expect from modern IF as well. But these are minor issues and they don't stop the game from being enjoyable. 7 points. 


Reviewed by Jake Wildstrom 

It's reasonably well-crafted; minor technical errors and some unimplemented nouns detract a bit, but overall the experience feels substantial. The coloration is a bit jarring, but this particular fruit-salad approach seems to be a common part of the ADRIFT experience for reasons beyond my ken. One mechanically jarring element of this prose, and of a lot of not-quite-up-to-scratch writing, is the lack of contractions. Real people don't talk that mechanically, or even write that mechanically, and it introduces unnecessary artificiality. It's a matter or trying too hard, really. The quality of the prose in fact drops off pretty sharply further into the game, and it gets way too text dump-intensive, and runs on rails for a long time. It started out almost promisingly, but it really didn't live up to it, at all.

Rating: 5


Reviewed by Rob Menke 

Technical: 7 
Puzzles: 3 
Story: 4 

The introduction is a bit blunt, and I have said in the past I dislike being dropped into a manufactured character, especially one with a name. This suggests that the author has a plot figured out and the player is only along for the ride: a linear game. Having the character evolve with the game is more satisfying.

“Natasha” is far from a proper name for English royalty.

MacScare has a real problem with non-Unicode text.

A “story on rails,” as proven by the videocom conversation. Rather than providing a menu of responses or allowing free-form conversation, the author chose to speak my words for me.

The author has paid attention to detail; even the most innocuous scenery objects are examinable.

Ouch. The stairs say that I am on the 494th floor, but the elevator says that I am on the 247th floor.

This is reading more and more like a bad Clive Cussler novel… but at least the main character has a back story for being a brilliant sociopath.

The whole reason I went to the theater was to get Sally’s suitcase to her. But…

> Give case to Sally.
Sally doesn’t seem interested in Sally’s suitcase.

No, it’s more like Clive Cussler meets bad anime… The Dragon Lithoid reeks of kid-oriented sci-fi, and the restaurant scene is Expositionville. If the author could have made the edges of the text window shimmer, he would have. As it is, I’m having visions of Wayne and Garth wiggling their fingers and shouting, “Wooloolooloo! Wooloolooloo!”

You cannot eat in the restaurant.

Damn, the one scene that could have been steamy (and salvaged the story) was interrupted…

As a prisoner, you cannot call out on the videocom: an acceptable limitation, but the reasoning is weak (“…nobody you need to contact”).

Nice. The game has taken on a semi-real-time nature.

Guess-the-verb problem with the gate switch. Turn on switch, Throw switch, Open switch, Push switch up… oh, set switch. How obvious.

There seems to be a bug in the map. Going in from the neck room takes me to the ground floor unless the guard is already dead.

The two guards still pace the room even after they have been killed. Talk about dedication…

Time’s up. What started out as an easy linear game ended up as a difficult linear game: not because of any inherent cleverness on the part of the author, but from a number of annoying “find-the-object” and “guess-the-verb” puzzles. I started out biased against this story: suspense novels with larger-than-life heroes never have appealed to me; the technical problems and the inherent simplicity of the puzzles failed to make up for the weak plot. A nice try; too ambitious for a first attempt, but has potential nevertheless.


Reviewed by Sidney Merk 

The first of five Adrift games on my play list this year is Vendetta, by “Fuyu Yuki” (which seems to be a pseudonym). I’ve only ever played one – maybe two – Adrift games. Last year’s A Day in the Life of a Superhero comes to mind. With it, I didn’t notice how odd the Adrift parser is. I sure noticed it here.

We all get into our own comfort zones. I generally play Hugo, Tads, and Zcode games the same way. Command syntax is pretty similar, and when something doesn’t work in one that does in another, it’s probably because that particular grammar rule wasn’t included. Commands start with a verb, objects are parsed out by their nouns and adjectives, articles are discarded, grammar rules are checked, and everything is put into scope to minimize references to objects elsewhere in the game. When I made custom parsers for my interactive fiction of years past, it didn’t come close to this.

Adrift, by comparison, is…. weird. Initial punctuation is ignored, I think. In the process of putting comments in a transcript, my line was parsed. Sometimes, it was parsed on multiple breaks, spooling several suspicious errors. At times, Adrift even managed to pick out a real command from the line, leading me to do things that couldn’t be reversed. I think Adrift allows “undo”, so perhaps it was only disabled in this game. An example was when I tried to point out a quirk. I typed “*I meant to push it” – and the game replied with “(the small trolley) You feel nothing unusual. Command not understood.” That was because I had already tried to push the trolley, and the verb was mapped to “feel” instead.

The biggest distraction was at a time when I had several comments to make in a row. I did this at a point near the beginning where large amounts of dialogue were dumped page after page. The game would continue to the next turn, showing another page of the story for each log entry I made. I’m not used to that in other games. To reorient myself in the absence of “undo”, I had to read pages of text in the transcript. I might have taken it from the Adrift scrollback, but at key transitional points, the screen was cleared.

I felt that object scope was out of whack, too. Most things mentioned in the scenery were implemented, which is a bonus. Still, the game tried to match on a few things that weren’t, and instead of getting a “that’s not here” or “that’s not important” message, it matched on some object elsewhere (earlier in the game, I think), and referenced it by name. It wasn’t a big deal, but all these things cumulatively drag the quality down.

Not every problem in Vendetta can be attributed to the Adrift environment. In fact, some of what I’ve already mentioned may have nothing to do with Adrift – it’ll take a few more samples before I know for sure. The game suffers from design flaws as well. English may be the author’s second language. Although comments about problems in the writing (especially extra, unnecessary words tacked onto the ends of sentences, or “she says” tacked on after too much dialogue to be anything but jarring) make up most of my transcripts, I’m going to pass over mentioning any particulars. The writing could be improved with proofreading and much retooling, and I’ll leave it at that.

The bigger problem is that conversations are done in blocks. Okay, that’s not necessarily a problem. The author does break it up so that a command is necessary to spool it forward to the next page. I was playing on a wide-screen laptop, so I was often seeing back-and-forth dialogue line by line. It would have been easier to read if a blank line had been included before each switch, and perhaps if indentation was used. That would have made it feel more book-like, and I think it might have been easier on the eyes.

The game is full of superfluous rooms, used only as a means of adding to the realism. Generally they’re simple constructions and contain nothing that might mislead a player into thinking a puzzle is involved, but they’re also unnecessary. The perimeter around the Falcon Lithoid comes to mind. The parking lot at its base is another. The building itself has numerous rooms that could have been combined or “sealed off” to the player, just to keep things focused. This is a minor complaint, though. It didn’t bother me, and I only mention it as a suggestion for the author’s future games. The story points and discoveries made in some of these places could have been combined or accomplished in other ways, without the need for all the extra rooms.

A few things seemed entirely unnecessary, and potentially misleading. A humming sound can be heard in the northern portion of the parking garage, because (as it turns out) a reactor is in the building behind that wall. It’s realistic, sure, but was it necessary? The walls could have been thick enough to block out the sound, and then it wouldn’t seem as though it was important to investigate the humming from the parking area – since the humming isn’t even important there. I don’t know what, if anything, can be put into the disintegrator. It seemed to exist only as a story point. Only a couple of the labs had uses, or contained useful items, but for a time I thought I might need to perform experiments.

The game is set 168 years in the future. I prefer sci-fi to be less specific. Let the world and the story speak for itself. The technology in Vendetta didn’t seem “futuristic” enough. Wouldn’t video-phones be replaced by holo-phones? Would anybody still have “an old, screenless mobile telephone” that far into the future? If so, would basic cellular service still exist? The game could have been set 15 years from now. Maybe 25. I would have preferred to simply not know. I like sci-fi in which everything seems old-fashioned. The Dying Earth (by Jack Vance) is a great example of how old-fashioned things come back by circumstance. In Vendetta, it just seemed unintentional. I think the author set out to make a near-future adventure, and then decided it would take 168 years for genetic engineering to reach the stages described by his story.

At the end, the game shifts into a choose-your-own-adventure, where the final confrontation is carried out by way of a menu tree instead of IF-style action. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it worked to make the confrontation stand out from the rest of the game. It probably helped keep the confrontation on track, where it would otherwise be difficult to involve the player in the same series of actions. On the other, it seemed out of place to the style of the rest of the game. The only puzzle was in figuring out which series of actions would lead to a win. Fortunately, more than one way works. With the lack of an “undo”, though, it pays to save just before the encounter begins.

So, how did this game end up with an unofficial 6.0, when to this point I’ve been nothing but negative? Despite all these problems, the game really wasn’t buggy. Everything worked as intended. The puzzles weren’t broken, and until close to the end, I didn’t even need hints. I really liked the auto-mapping feature in the Adrift runner. The story was interesting too, and the game had a point. You are Jem Bitter, and you’re an unusual… person. The setting, despite the discrepancy between near-future technology and a far-future year, was interesting and even convincing. I liked the game, and that’s worth a 5.0 on my scale. The author has put considerable effort into it. The +1.0 skew is because I think he’s on the right track. Release an updated version of Vendetta (ask me, if you want my session transcripts), and don’t stop writing Interactive Fiction! Your next game, I’m sure, will be an improvement.


Reviewed by Michael Martin 

This is a near-future-style techno-thriller, and it's really pretty well done, with an interesting PC and subtly though nicely handled character development. The writing is always at least servicable, you always have a goal of some kind, and the interaction is mostly smooth (smoother than I've come to expect from ADRIFT games, actually, though I did get the "You can't move that" from PULL TARP when I should have said PULL TARPAULIN.) The map felt a little sparse (lots of corridors) towards the end, so I would have needed to map carefully had I had time. I didn't, but I was following the game well enough to be able to say "Now I need to go to room X", copy a bunch of move commands out of the walkthrough, 
and end up in room X. 

The only other suggestion I'd make is that cutscenes should really be fully non-interactive. I don't like sequences where you need to repeatedly wait or examine stuff to be fed the cutscene. 

This is probably the best ADRIFT game I've played. 

Score: 7 


Reviewed by David Whlyd

In Vendetta, you play the part of Jem Bitter, a genetically enhanced ‘super soldier’ and soon to be decorated for your part in preventing terrorists from detonating a nuclear device in the heart of London.

On the face of it, that all sounds like a pretty interesting back story for a game, but, for one reason or another, it didn’t impress me anywhere near as much as I thought it should. As I made my way through the game, my character, despite the genetic enhancements, didn’t really do anything very ‘super soldier’. Does he have special abilities that set him aside from his fellow man? If so, I never seemed able to make use of any of them, aside from during cut scenes where control of the game is taken out of my hands.

Despite a bit of background for the main character given at the start of the game, it’s quite a while later before you actually find out what Vendetta is all about. To begin with, I wandered around, solved a few puzzles, found a suitcase, took a taxi ride, met my girlfriend and attended a restaurant with her… but it was only when I got kidnapped, after I’d been playing the game for close on two hours, that I discovered what the whole thing was about. I can’t help thinking that it might have been a better idea to have cut the first part of the game out altogether and just start it with the kidnapping as that’s the point at which the game really seems to start. (Then again, I helped test the game and the idea didn’t occur to me until now…)

There seemed to be a lot of waiting around in Vendetta. Too much for my liking. This isn't a terrible thing in itself, if done in moderation, but quite a few times I seemed to be required to wait around in certain locations for something to happen without any real indication that anything was going to happen. Then again, none of the time-based puzzles like this presented me with any real problems because, in the early part of the game where they hit the hardest, there's not much room to explore and before long you're going to find yourself wandering around the same set of locations again and again simply because you’ve exhausted every other option. Inevitably, you'll most likely stumble on the solution through sheer persistence.

At other times, Vendetta becomes very non-interactive (if that’s even a phrase. If not, you probably understand what I mean.) There is huge amounts of information to be relayed to the player, and whenever this information is being relayed, the game seems to pretty much lock up. You're generally stuck in a location with no way out and, irrespective of what you do, the game progresses on its own without any intervention on your part. Now I've done this sort of thing in a few of my games so I probably shouldn’t be the one complaining over it, but when faced with one screen after another of text, none of which is avoidable, my eyes begin to glaze over and I tend to just skim through it to get the gist of it. It also isn't helped by the fact that a lot of the information relayed to you in this way isn't really that interesting. It might have been better as a series of questions that could be asked, instead of just being delivered to you over several screens of text.

There are also times when Vendetta goes into ‘auto pilot’ mode. You know the thing. Your character creeps along a corridor and then, without you doing anything, he just rushes along and does something completely unexpected. Here it’s a guard you attack. It might have been nice to be given the choice of deciding whether you wanted to attack the guard, and not just have the game do it for you.

Vendetta is a big game with a huge amount of rooms, a good number of which could have been cut out of the game and it wouldn’t have suffered for their loss. The latter part of the game takes place at the Falcon Lithoid, a gigantic complex on many floors that contains vast amounts of rooms. Most of which are either empty or as good as empty. The Falcon Lithoid is surrounded by a dozen or more empty locations with nothing to do, all of which are pretty similar in appearance, and don’t really seem to serve any purpose other than to make the Lithoid seem even bigger. Was that the aim? If this was the 80’s, when more locations = better game, I could understand it but it seems kind of strange having so many locations in a game these days, particularly when the majority of them don’t really seem to serve any purpose.

In the end, I felt that Vendetta was an okay-ish game that came close to being good but missed out in quite a few different areas. A lot of effort has been expended on it, but the overall storyline just isn't that interesting. Jem Bitter is presented as a super soldier yet never gets the opportunity to use his super soldier abilities. I can’t help but feel that the ‘terrorists detonating a nuclear bomb in the heart of London’ would have made a better idea for a game than the one presented here.

A missed opportunity.

4 out of 10 


Reviewed by The Dominant Species TDS (Reviews Exchange 7)

First off, kudos to Fuyu for putting his first game in the hostile environment that is the IFComp. Now, on the game.

Vendetta is the futuristic tale of a nanobot that has to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of an evil woman that intends on using him to assassinate a company owner. Although the game doesn't really start until half-way through the game. Confused? Ok, let me explain.

This game has a long, drawn out introduction, which could have easily been cut to a length more appropriate. You start off in your hotel room and run a couple boring errands before picking up your girlfriend Sally from a theater and taking her to dinner. Afterwards, you return back to your room where you started. All of this wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the sheer amount of text you are drowned in. The info dumps explaining backstory and why the player is an artificial life form are ridiculous. It's simply too much to swallow for one starting the game. The fluff doesn't stop there, however. In the game you'll come across many repeat rooms that have been put in to make the game look larger. 

The middle game is basically a puzzle fest where you solve a puzzle per floor of a facility. In this facility you run into highly incompetent guards. I mean the player gets to walk right into a guard station and kill a guard. You'd think the door would be locked or he'd hear the player approaching. Should I mention the guards who fail to recognize you as a threat even when you're in the same room as them? Apparently in the future guards believe it's normal for people to walk around with rifles in their hands.

There are a number of bad gameplay elements:

> x case
Leave it alone for now.

What kind of response is that to examining an object?

> x door
The door is made of wood. Knocking on it suggests that it is fairly thick, too. It is slightly rotten in places, though, and there are a few black marks on the bottom half of it.

> knock on door
I don't understand what you want me to do with the door.

Why not let the player to decide to knock on the door instead of having it listed when examining? I was going to knock on the wood naturally but the description already covered it. When I do knock on the door the game doesn't understand.

> x painting
It is an old oil painting. It shows two men dressed in black sitting on a lawn, discussing some aspect of a naked woman who happens to be lying near to them. Other than that, there does not appear to be anything unusual about the painting; lifting it reveals nothing behind.

Another case where there are actions in the description. This comes off as very amateurish.

A cleaner is here, polishing the floor

Why not "A cleaner is here polishing the floor."? Why not add a period to end the sentence? 

A tall guard and A short guard are here. 

Are you kidding me?

> undo
Unfortunately, as talented as you are, the ability to reverse time is beyond your capability. 

Is that right?

> undo it
(the switch)
Undone.

NEVER disable undo.

> x guard
The guard is dead. Let us leave it at that. 

Cop out. The author got lazy here.

The few redeeming qualities such as the futuristic setting and a couple neat puzzles are overwhelmed by the rest of the game's faults. I'd give it a 5/10(average on my scale) but the bugs take off a point. I take another point for the fact it was poorly executed overall.

3/10


Reviewed by Robert Street (Reviews Exchange 7)

Vendetta was one of the five ADRIFT entries to the 2005 IF Competition, where it finished fourteenth. The game started slowly, with a lot of cut scenes to work through as most of the plot was revealed. I haven't seen many science fiction games done well in IF, but I thought this game had an interesting premise. The player character in this game is not a human, but an emotionless bio-construct, trying to survive in a human world.

There is lots and lots of action in this game, as you spend a lot of time fighting your way through to your objective. There are various ways to maximise your odds of success. The NPCs that do appear are well done, but for most of the game there are very few NPCs. I would have expected a few more guards wandering through the building possibly, but I know it would be very hard to implement or play otherwise. The puzzles seemed mainly reasonable, apart from the long search time for useable objects. 

My major issue with Vendetta is that there are a lot of rooms in the main section of the game. I know it was necessary to create a feel of a realistic complex, but I had trouble finding anything useful within the large complex. A lot of the corridor descriptions were short as well, and many descriptions were repeated throughout areas. I admit it would be difficult to write that many detailed descriptions, but if there is not much going to be added, it could just be left as one room. It might not fill out the ADRIFT map so well, but it would be easier to navigate. Although the room descriptions weren't always long, I thought the object descriptions were generally well done.

Overall this was an entertaining game. It might have benefited from being a little more geographically concise, but I still had fun playing it.

SCORE - 6/10


Reviewed by James Mitchelhi for IFReviews.org

I've never played an Adrift game before, so I was particularly interested in what this would be like. As I'm not running Windows, I used the SCARE interpreter. I can't say I'm terribly impressed by the system, but it's playable, and that's what counts, I suppose.

Enough about the system. Vendetta is quite an ambitious game, set in a future that reminded me of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. The writing has flaws, but the author seems to have approached the task with enthusiasm and, with a little more experience, I'm sure it'll improve. The major problems are with the design of the game, however.

Conversation is static, giving the player only the choice to "talk to" somebody or wait as the conversation unfolds. There are large portions of the game where this is the only interaction. Typing "z" or just hitting enter isn't fun. I'd be willing to give a little more leeway on this if the writing was better. Unfortunately, along with memories the PC has, conversation is often used for clumsy exposition. There are other problems. The idea that the player's girlfriend has no idea about his past or that his is asexual until a conversation during the game stretches belief to straining point.

The SF elements are also poorly done. Good SF is generally an extrapolation of current knowledge. Unfortunately, the author doesn't seem to have any current knowledge. At one point he mentions that the PC's muscles are made of "multiple amino acid chains". This is the Star Trek strategy of throwing in scientific terms without any reference to reality.

I'm being harsh. The game does show some signs of sparkle and imagination, and in parts it is very good. Unlike a few entrants to this comp, I'd encourage the author to keep at it.

Unfortunately, the funniest line from the game comes from the climax. I literally burst out laughing at this: "Execute! Execute!" The griffon crows in a staccato parrot-like voice."


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