Beanstalk And The Jack by David Welbourne

A forum where new and old games can be reviewed - an alternative to the reviews on the Adventures page of the main ADRIFT site. Also the place to ask for any assistance if you are stuck playing a particular game.
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David Whyld
Posts: 7009
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Points: 35
Location: United Kingdom

Post by David Whyld »

At first, this seemed frustratingly buggy. There were little annoyances like trying to close an open window and being told it was open and the listed exits being wrong in every location. Later on, after much muttering and cursing, I realised this was actually the point. If the title of the game hadn’t clued me in already (and no, it hadn’t), the game plays in reverse, e.g. you start at the end of the game and have to retrace (backwards) the steps you took to get there. So if there's an exit to the east, you need to approach it by going west; if something is closed, it can only be opened with the close command; you'll often be told what you need to do next *after* you’ve done it; and so on… Quite an inspired idea, but annoying till you figure out what is going on and almost had me quitting.

I didn’t make a whole lot of progress with the game under my own steam. Trying to figure out the command I needed to type – or the *previous* command I needed to type – got me beat most of the time and instead I spent the majority of the game just randomly trying things until something finally worked. A trio of puzzles about midway through the game are essentially the same puzzle just repeated three times, but it wasn’t until I was on the third of them that I realised this. No doubt if I’d realised it a bit sooner, I wouldn’t have had anywhere near as many problems as I did. Fortunately, the game isn't password protected so I was able to sneak a peek in the Generator (a more polite way of saying I cheated something rotten) every time I got stuck.

Considering this game was written in the unregistered version of ADRIFT 4, complete with all the nasty restrictions meant to give you a taste of what the system is capable of without allowing you to actually producing anything worthwhile, there's a surprisingly complex game here and the idea of starting at the end of the story and working your way to the start is certainly an interesting one. The restrictions make themselves apparent in a few places and there are definitely some rough edges that could have been ironed out with the registered version, but all in all Beanstalk and the Jack is a far more accomplished game than I’d have expected one written with the unregistered version to be.
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