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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:26 am
by davidw
Game: The Realm

Author: Michael Sheldon

Right from the start, this seemed a game that the author had rushed through in order to get finished as quickly as possible. The intro was poorly done and while it had the makings of something quite comical, it was written in such a haphazard manner - punctuation clearly not being an issue here - that any value was quickly lost.

The idea behind the game at least seemed like an interesting one. You are a squire training to be a knight and have been assigned one last test to prove to your superiors that you are indeed worthy of becoming a knight. The task, you are informed, is random. Properly handled this could have been a very good way to start the game and would have offered tremendous replay value, yet any initial enthusiasm I might have felt was extinguished the moment I left the first location.

The first location in itself isn't anything particularly outstanding but at least it fulfils its purposes and every item in there can be examined which shows that some effort was expended at the very start of the game. Unfortunately things go rapidly downhill thereafter. Venture from the room and you find yourself in a whole horde of locations whose descriptions are brief in the extreme. Most are a few lines long, a few are even shorter. No attempt at fleshing out the game has been made and this becomes even more apparent when you stumble into the mess hall and find yourself faced with several items that can't be examined or interacted with in any way, shape or form. Surely it wouldn't have been too much trouble to give the tables and benches a description?

Descriptions for some of the items that are in the game are nothing very special. The sword is described as "a very shiny looking sword" while the armour is "some sturdy leather armour". The bugle has the description "a long brass bugle" attached to it.

I didn't get very far into the game. Part of this I attributed to the fact that after trying to examine countless items and being told I couldn't see them, on top of attempting to question every NPC I came across and invariably being left with an error message, just left me feeling that this game was a bit of a waste. I tried "help" and "hint" but neither had been covered. Fortunately the game came with a walkthrough file attached which was perhaps the one positive thing I could find to say about it. On the down side, several of the tasks involved in actually progressing the game anywhere seemed to be the sort of things that it was highly unlikely anyone would ever think to type. Why would I want to give a book to a cat? Or question an NPC about strangely unrelated subjects? For a guess, this game wouldn't know a beta-tester if it fell over one.

My patience didn't last very long after that. I might have played more than a few text adventures back in the 80's that had short room descriptions and missed out descriptions for most items but they often had nice pictures to compensate, or I could accept them because given the technology of the day it was impossible to expect more. But these days, more is possible and it's disappointing that a little extra effort couldn't have been expended on this game. As the author obviously couldn't be bothered to try harder, I couldn't myself and promptly quit.

3 out of 10