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Author: Campbell Wild
Reviewed by David Whyld
ADRIFT creator Campbell Wild's Wrecked starts off in pretty standard adventure game territory: a hunt for sunken treasure from a wrecked ship. Indeed, many of the early locations in the game - set in the town of Ambersville where you've come to find the wrecked ship - fall into the category of standard adventure game territory, but once Wrecked gets underway the adventure becomes quite a bit more interesting. You can travel to the Land of Narnia and meet Mr Tumnus and Aslan (which no doubt won't mean a thing if you haven't read The Lion, The Witch & Wardrobe).
There's a lot of things to like about Wrecked, one of which is the ease of use of the game. There are a fair few locations that can be explored from the very start of the game without the need to solve any complicated puzzles and Ambersville itself is an interesting place to wander around. Getting beyond Ambersville, however, is trickier. There's a train station to be found but, as the trains tend to come and go at random times, there might well be nothing there when you arrive.
A hints system comes in handy although for the earlier part of the game you can probably make fairly good progress without having to resort to using it. Whereas the tasks in the later parts of the game are harder to figure out, most of the early ones (what you need to give Biff and Boff, rescuing the cat, etc.) are more straightforward, though getting the pig to move presented me with a few problems [spoiler] until I'd been to Narnia.
Wrecked reminded me a lot of the text adventures from the 80's in that there was an emphasis here on puzzles as opposed to lengthy descriptive writing. While there's nothing wrong with this, I was kind of disappointed that some of the location descriptions were so sparse and felt that more detailed descriptions would have added considerably to the game's depth.
Above average for ADRIFT adventures, Wrecked has a charm that is quite rare in
text adventures today. Add this to the strangeness (travelling to Narnia through
a wardrobe!) and occasional wit (asking Suzie about "a good time" refers to her musical talents) and there's a game well worth playing here.
Logic: 6 out of 10
Whereas most of the game is logical, it gets quite strange at times. Entering a wardrobe leads you to the Land of Narnia and an encounter with Mr Tumnus and Aslan. That aside, tasks are generally logical although a few are difficult.
Problems: 8 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Very few. An annoying one came with trying to travel on the train: the conductor seemed to think I didn't have a ticket even though I did.
Story: 7 out of 10
Not much in the way of a background story but the game is interesting enough once it gets going.
Characters: 6 out of 10
The town of Ambersville is populated with quite a few of them. Unfortunately they don't really have a lot to say although some of the descriptions for them are amusing - Boff looks a little older than Biff (i.e. not quite so much acne).
Writing: 6 out of 10
Above average for the most part although some of the location descriptions could have used fleshing out a little.
Game: 6 out of 10
Nicely written and interesting to play.
Overall: 39 out of 60
Reviewed by Mad Monk
I tried to show my dad how to play text games yesterday. This is the game I chose. The puzzles make sense, the storyline is funny and solid, character interaction is actually present, and it's just an all-around wonderful piece of fiction. My only gripe is that I would've preferred some longer room descriptions. Plus, I got lost around town a few times, but hey, that's probably my fault.
There are several points in Wrecked where the game collars you to proclaim just how awesome its development system is. For example, you meet someone who (surprise surprise!) just happens to be coding an ADRIFT game on a nearby computer. Ask her about it, and she'll say to you, "I'm making an ADRIFT adventure. I've tried using Inform, TADS and Hugo, but I'd say ADRIFT is by far the best." In another location, you can gain some points with the command "write graffiti," something I would never have thought to do without the handy walkthrough to prod me. The graffiti the game chooses to write? "ADRIFT rocks!" Apparently, Wrecked suspects that its own merits are not enough to convince you of ADRIFT's supremacy, but that if it just shouts slogans at you once in a while, that might do the trick. For me, the former was true, but the latter, predictably, was not. I've already catalogued the shortcomings of ADRIFT in my review of Marooned, so I don't see the need to rehash them here -- the bottom line is that ADRIFT isn't a bad system overall, and has some nifty features to recommend it, but its parser (which is MORE IMPORTANT THAN NIFTY FEATURES) is substandard, its model world needs work, and it's still lacking in key functions like UNDO and SCRIPT. A random NPC might think it beats Inform, TADS, and Hugo, but a quick conversation with this NPC demonstrates that her powers of discernment are, after all, rather limited. The game's self-hyping moments are off putting, as it would have been if Graham Nelson had chosen to have "Inform RUELZ!" scribbled on the side of the house in Curses, or if the spaceship in Deep Space Drifter had been named the USS TADS Is Supreme.
On the other hand, Wrecked is definitely a better showcase for ADRIFT than is Marooned. Those extraneous newlines that I blamed on the ADRIFT system in my review of Marooned turned out to be that game's doing -- they're nowhere to be found in Wrecked. Many more first-level nouns are implemented, making the auto-complete option work much better, though it still doesn't work flawlessly. Also, there's no starvation puzzle in Wrecked, which sets to rest my fears that such a puzzle is standard issue in every ADRIFT game. However, just being a better game than Marooned doesn't make Wrecked a great game in itself. One part of the reason why I didn't care for Wrecked is that it just feels very dated to me. It's an old-school adventure, something that might have fit comfortably into the mainstream circa 1983 or so. You know the kind: you find a bowlingball with a button on the side, and when you push the button, the ball opens up to reveal a sapphire bracelet, which you then give to the sailor on the dock, who will reward you with a chicken pot pie that you can feed to the vicious warthog, allowing you to sneak into his lair and retrieve the bag of marbles, etc. etc. Everything is pretty much thrown together without any rhyme or reason, loosely grouped together under a threadbare rubric of plot and setting. Like I said, old-school. Unfortunately for Wrecked, the old school of IF lost its accreditation some time ago. To my mind, senseless grouping of stuff without any indication of internal consistency is something IF has outgrown, like mazes and starvation puzzles. Seeing it in a year 2000 competition entry isn't going to score a lot of points from me.
However, even if I were willing to set aside the deep flaws in both the parser and the design of the game, there would still be the matter of the bugs. Most severe among these is the game-killing bug I encountered about an hour and 45 minutes into the game: despite all conditions being correct, I was unable to complete a critical puzzle, even though I knew from a previous play session that it was possible to complete this puzzle. Because ADRIFT makes a habit of overwriting old save files with the current save unless you explicitly tell it to do otherwise (by selecting "save as" from the menu bar -- typing "save" will overwrite without prompting), I would have had to start from scratch and wind my way once more through all the nonsensical contortions required by the game's plot, and there was no guarantee that I wouldn't encounter the same bug again. That bug ended my dealings with Wrecked, but there were other errors along the way. The voice was in first person, but would occasionally slip into second person. Sometimes the game failed to recognize rather important objects. In one supremely frustrating section, the game adamantly refused to recognize the word "keyhole," despite a promiently featured keyhole in the location; it responded to all commands along the lines of "put key in keyhole" with "I can't put anything inside the small key." In short, between the bugs, the parser, the hype, and the lack of any kind of logic, Wrecked wasn't a lot of fun, and it's not likely to win many converts to ADRIFT. No matter how many times it insists that ADRIFT rocks.
Wrecked was far too generic. The train puzzle--when I played it from the walkthrough--was a cool idea even if not clued in any way, but the credit card was nonsensical regarding the passage of time. In fact, the credit card application puzzle was done previously in one of the Enchanter games, and they had some sort of magic-time-travel postal service rationale for the quick return.
This is one of those old-sk00l games that were popular in the 80's but not now. You wander around a village looking for some random objective, solving puzzles because they happen to be there, not because they're clearly getting you closer to your goal. The writing is adequate but, unfortunately, not good enough to make the game worth playing in spite of the puzzles and plot.
David Samuel Myers
A victim of its own ambitiousness, this one was too long. Without the walkthru I wouldn't have seen much. I got up to where I needed to ride the train without a ticket. You have to hide in the john to ride free, and I didn't figure it out. Not a bad puzzle game, though the NPCs were puzzlebot-ish in many cases. There was some off-the-wall stuff that made me laugh. But my specific quibbles were many:
* In the bar, late in the game I needed to buy a second glass of beer. I couldn't "buy drink" but had to "buy another drink"
* There is a hidden pork chop in the game, and for no apparent reason I had to push a plaque (admittedly under a statue of a pig) to get it! I don't normally go pushing plaques.
* I needed to rent a hotel room. I was forced to type "buy room". That was awkward. But nothing else seemed to work. "Show card to xxx" should've been good enough to buy items at the hotel, the scuba gear shop, the bar... but that didn't work.
* There is a character Mr. Tumnus. I tried to "x tumnus" but there was no synonym like that and I had to "x mr tumnus". And "wear scuba outfit" or "wear outfit" works but "wear scuba" doesn't? "Stand on porkie" is no good, but "stand on statue" is ok? I got frustrated.
* There is no "z" for "wait" in ADRIFT. No "g" for "again". No undo. (But the response to "ls" is funny).
* Oh how I hate that keyword completion. It gives away which items are scenery and which are active! I turned it off after a while.
* Even with the walkthru (and I did not follow it verbatim) the boat anchor is still a mystery to me. I got out to sea and I tied off the anchor and threw it overboard. I dove in and went down. I came back up (even right away) and the boat was *gone* as if I didn't anchor properly. Huh? I try it 3 times being real careful, doing things differently each time. Nope. FINALLY, one time it seems to work. I don't know for *sure* but the only thing that *seemed* different was that it was raining. That CAN'T be it, can it?
* There's an annoying misspelling (ouside for outside) late in the game
Reviewed by MathBrush
You've crashed your car in a small town, and you have to find your way out.
This game plays on a 3x3 city grid that is minimally described (more areas open up later).
Everything is minimally described. 'There is a swimming pool here. It sparkles' and stuff like that. I had a game-stopping bug early on in Gargoyle, but it looks like others found many bugs as well. Scenery is undersdescribed, and the ADRIFT parser makes playing harder than it should.
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