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The Sisters

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Postby David Whyld » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:18 pm

The Sisters by Revgiblet (ADRIFT)


(NOTE: I was a tester for this game, a fact that complicated this review as I found when I’d written it that I’d commented on several things that were in the first version of the game but which had been removed or changed in the finished IFComp version. Thankfully, the removals/changes were largely positive so I shouldn’t grumble.)

“The Sisters” is a horror/mystery game which starts with the player running his car off the road after narrowly missing hitting a young girl. With the car too damaged to be driven any further, it’s up to you to make your way out of there and make sense of what has happened.

Leaving the car and exploring a bit, you find yourself in a wood. You’ve got a bleeding gash on your head but, as lucky chance would have it, a first aid box just so happens to be lying on the ground. What are the odds…? Good job it was there, too, otherwise you'd have been in a bit of a predicament due to bleeding to death from the gash.

There's an annoying bug while descending a steep decline. If you have a penknife with you with the blade open, you fall down the decline, land on the blade and die. Funnily enough, if you drop the penknife before trying to descend, you *still* land on the blade and die. Clever penknife. Why this puzzle was included in the game at all I don’t know. There's no way of knowing beforehand that trying to climb down the decline with the penknife open would result in you dying and no reason to assume you'd need to close the penknife at this stage (it can’t be used when it’s closed after all) so it’s a fair bet that you'll end up dying here before realising what you need to do.

The game uses ADRIFT’s built in end game sequence which doesn’t allow UNDO and instead makes you restart the game when you die so you have to reload from your previous saved game position. Definitely a point against it. Hopefully this will be fixed when the new version of ADRIFT comes out.

The majority of the game takes place in a large mansion which you stumble on after leaving the woods. This has the usual prerequisite of locked doors which you need to find keys for (what large mansion doesn’t?) as well as a number of other puzzles to figure out. Some I managed on my own, some I only got to with the aid of the walkthrough. Even the ones that stumped me – getting open the urn being one that springs to mind – were fairly obvious and I'm annoyed I didn’t solve them on my own.

There is an interesting twist at the end of the game which wasn’t quite what I had expected. As I explored the mansion which makes up the bulk of the game’s locations, I found myself coming up with the theory that I was actually a ghost of some kind and that the girl I had seen was perhaps my ghostly daughter. As it happened, I was wrong and the ending quite surprised me. It also left me feeling slightly confused about certain things in the game. How much of what happened had *really* happened and how much was in the mind of the player? Actually, part of me felt that the twist in the ending where some things were explained was less interesting than the ghost story idea that had seemed to be the theme before then.

Overall, I found “The Sisters” to be one of the better ADRIFT games I've played recently and, despite a few rough edges (and deaths by penknife notwithstanding), well worth playing.

6 out of 10




Edited By David Whyld on 1167295120
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Postby Puterdragon » Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:03 am

Good review. I was also slightly disappointed with the ending. I think I would have liked it better if there had been some clue earlier in the game about the player's true identity. Even something cryptic to make the player wonder. That would have made to payoff seem all the sweeter.
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Postby David Whyld » Thu Dec 28, 2006 8:46 am

Yes, I wasn't too keen on the ending myself. It seemed to throw out everything that we already knew about the player and replace it with something new... and I liked what I already knew more than the new stuff :(
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Postby revgiblet » Thu Dec 28, 2006 4:27 pm

Puterdragon wrote:Good review. I was also slightly disappointed with the ending. I think I would have liked it better if there had been some clue earlier in the game about the player's true identity. Even something cryptic to make the player wonder. That would have made to payoff seem all the sweeter.

I tried to do this by suggesting that the player took a little too much pleasure in killing the mouse.

I can't remember if I added any other hints. Probably not, as I was too paranoid about the ending being revealed too soon in the game.
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Postby Puterdragon » Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:52 am

Well, shortly after I posted last night, I went to bed. I did have a dream (nightmare) about the game. That's probably about the highest praise I can give a horror-style game as I'm usually immune to such things.

Your point about the mouse is well taken. I did think of that after the fact. All in all, a very fun experience!
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Postby Mirrorman » Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:28 pm

The start reminded me a bit of that old fighting fantasy book, hell house I think it was called so I was immediately drawn in. I liked the motivation of not knowing what had happened to the girl and the fact that you were wounded and needed to do something quickly.

I'm glad the penknife puzzle is early on, if it appeared later I probably wouldn't have bothered to retrace my steps and try again. I also wondered why the first aid wasn't in the boot (trunk) of the car or something like that rather than out in the woods. The geography felt a bit weird to me too, roads ending in lakes and the sheer drop with a road didn't fit my mental image of where I was but that might just be me.

I did struggle with a couple of the puzzles but I liked how you knew you were along the right lines even if you did have to guess at the right phrase sometimes. I would have liked more feedback like trying to put the tray under the door didn't really hint that I had the wrong object but it didn't hinder my enjoyment.

The ghostly events are great and made me extra keen to solve the game but once they repeat, or feel like they are repeating, I started thinking of them as events rather than part of the story. Nice touch and I liked how the character won't look in the mirror again after seeing something spooky but less of them would have freaked me out more.

I wasn't keen on the ending for the same reasons but I can think of plenty of books, movies, plays and other IF where I've got to the end and thought no, that isn't what I was hoping for. That doesn't make for a bad ending and I can see why the author wanted to not give too many clues away but I think a few more hints would have made that punchline more powerful.

The Sisters has a killer hook, a nice setting and some well placed puzzles that are easy enough for a thicko like me to beat with a bit of patience. Theres a lot of IF that I play and then completely forget about but The Sisters is definitely one I'll remember and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good spooky game. I'd give it 7 run over teenagers out of a possible 10, nice game!
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Postby revgiblet » Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:34 pm

Well, I'll be thanking you for your kind comments. :)
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Postby djchallis » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:24 pm

i'd hesitate to actually call this a review of your game, rev, because to be honest i've played so few IF games i'd probably drastically over or underrate it. pay more attention to people like david, but here are my thoughts in case you were interested:

good plot, very well created atmosphere. horror games seem to thrive on the little notes and other finds which don't actually do anything but give insight into a twisted world, and there were plenty of them. i thought the ending was good in theory, but wasn't presented as well as it could have been. most of the items were used fairly cleverly as well, which was nice. there was also the occasional good use of showing or mentioning items or places that would later be visited or found, which adds a more complete feel to a game.

however, i do have a few complaints. the penknife thing was a little iffy, tho the fact that it was near the beginning was ok. for me there was too much GTV. sometimes you needed "use object with object" and sometimes a special phrase. most of the time the correct phrases were mentioned somewhere tho. the one major annoyance was the scene with the books, where i examined the books and found that there a was a hole for the book i was carrying, but i couldn't put the book there until i'd examined the bookshelf as well. there was also the fact that a lot of rooms were essentially empty, just filled with unhelpful items that the author presumably thought aught to be there. but then again, i haven't yet found the solution to that problem yet.

i didn't like the extra lines between things, i like the room title to be attached to the descriptions - but that's just my personal preference.
but anyway - don't get me wrong with this review - i know the negative paragraph is much bigger than the positive one, but i did really enjoy this game and revgiblet definitely knows how to do atmosphere, and create a very real, absorbing character. parts of the game were genuinely spooky, and i found myself still spooked out for a good half an hour after finishing the game.
the game certainly makes me look forward to playing the rev's next one.

6 out of 10




Edited By djchallis on 1168467913
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