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Back Home by Webb & Bowsman

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Back Home by Webb & Bowsman

Postby Tyson » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:30 pm

I can't say too much about this game without spoiling it. This is a hazard of reviewing horror fiction in general, it seems. But I can say it is about a man who returns home after some years. When he gets home, things go wrong.

One thing to note: this game is story-driven. The writing is polished. The tone is creepy and off-kilter, yet somehow dignified. This is a classy horror game; it is not a gore-fest or cheesy thriller. It's more in the tone of Gothic horror.

I like the story-driven aspect of the game, but sometimes I felt like I had little agency. Of course, I know that I do not really have much agency; agency is largely an illusion created by the author. However, this illusion was not done as well as it could have been. There were too many times where I felt like I was simply being pushed along.

The puzzles were easy. However, the game did require some guess the verb. And the puzzles also seemed artificially designed to block player progress. They didn't feel as organic as I'd like.

This brings me to another issue: the pacing is uneven. We start with a bunch of story. Then we have to solve a few puzzles. And then we get a bunch of story again. So, you have a few puzzles sandwiched between a lot of storyline. It would be nice if the pace was a bit more even (a puzzle here, some story info there, a puzzle here, ad finitum).

There were no bugs. So the game is technically polished (ignoring guess the verb).

It's a short game, so it doesn't outstay its welcome.

Though I seem to emphasize the negatives more than the positives, the game was a solid effort. It's worth the time spent playing it.

[If the authors want to ask me questions about my review or anything else about their game, please do so! My memory is still fresh.]
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Re: Back Home by Webb & Bowsman

Postby Duncan_B » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:15 pm

I can't think up many questions at the moment, but I thank you for the review and all the more gladly for your enjoyment of it. Perhaps you'd like to post your review at IFDB?
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Re: Back Home by Webb & Bowsman

Postby revgiblet » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:54 pm

Indeed, thanks for the review.

The negatives, such as pacing and the puzzles, are my responsibility. Duncan brought the extra level of polish and atmosphere to this game.
"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies."

Tertullian

In Progress:- Watch This Space...
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Re: Back Home by Webb & Bowsman

Postby Duncan_B » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:10 am

Mr. Webb is a modest man, but much credit is due to him here. :bravo: :thanks: :Thanks:

The story is original and all his, as well as the majority of the game's descriptions. I did shorten the opening scene a bit. I thought it a shame that with so much interesting content in the dialog scene (I really felt like I got to know the parent characters quite well in the space of a few turns) a player might not get a chance to see it so I tried to make the dialog options more visible, but those were all there originally. The idea of modding the game came to me upon opening the game up in the Generator ("Cheating!" shouts Mr. Whyld, I can see/hear/read him now, but for me seeing how a game is built is part of the fun). Anyway, I saw how organized and visible revgiblet made his code and that it was quite accessible and I thought, "Hm, it would be easy to give this an extra tweak here-and-there..."

It's curious to note that attic light bulb replacement is also used to restrict access in our latest game of the month, Black Sheep's Gold, as well. In Black Sheep there is only one bulb one can use as a replacement, though, whereas in Back Home a bulb can be taken from just about anything that might already have the right sized bulb in it. revgiblet mentioned to me during our collaboration (and feel free to amend this if needed) that he had intentionally made few & easy & minimalist puzzles so that while getting the player to think and synthesize and all that puzzles do, the focus would remain more on the story itself. Something like the puzzle for getting the key has also been done in a couple other games (Planetfall comes to mind), but I thought its implementation here had a simple-but-neat twist.

Don't forget to share your thoughts on IFDB!
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