The place to discuss the ADRIFT Interactive Fiction toolkit


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.

Postby davidw » Tue Nov 16, 2004 7:22 am

Game: Gamlet

Author: Tomasz Pudlo

I came very close to quitting this game the moment I started playing it. The introduction seemed to imply that Gamlet was some kind of joke game and as a couple of names mentioned (Pudlo and Jacek) were well known trolls from the RAIF/RGIF message boards*, I was halfway towards deleting it before I decided that I might as well play the game for a bit. That way, at least, I would be able to write a really scathing review of it that might, hopefully anyway, convince the writer to come up with something more worthwhile next time. But then a strange thing happened. I actually started enjoying the game…

* I didn't actually know who was credited as writer at the time as it doesn't say in the game itself and I hadn't checked the IFComp website.

The introduction that so put me off? Well, you wake in the middle of the night to find your dead father standing over you (as you do) wearing a shirt and precious little else. It seems he was taking a pee when the Grim Reaper came for him and so this is the way he will remain for all eternity. Which I guess makes a certain sense because it's unlikely the dead would dress themselves when they go a-haunting and the game even informs you that as people who were killed by having their heads chopped off regularly return as corpses with their heads tucked under your arms, that the same kind of thing has happened to your dear old dad. Your father informs you that he needs you to find him a book. He doesn't explain why (yep, it's one of those "get this, do that" games without a hint of an explanation as to why you're getting this or doing that), just that you need to fetch him the book. So off to find the book you go.

While there was nothing especially bad about the introduction - if anything, it was quite well written and had the kind of wry humour that I've always been fond of - I still experienced a sense of disappointment when I read it. I think I'd played either five or six games in a row before this one and they were all so dire that I had pretty much played them for as long as it took to write a review and then got rid of them. Gamlet looked like it was going to be the sixth or seventh turkey in a row. Now I know it's hardly fair to judge the pros or cons of a game based on the pros or cons of the games that you played immediately before it but it probably happens quite a bit.

But it's not bad at all. It's good. Surprisingly good considering that by this stage of the IFComp, I was genuinely beginning to believe that 90% of the games were real stinkers and were best consigned to the depths of the recycle bin instead of occupying valuable space on my hard drive. For one thing, it's very well written and for another it actually has proper amount of depth. Moving about the house is a creepy experience, heightened considerably by the style of writing which is brilliant in places. There's an actual storyline here which is one thing that, disappointingly, quite a few other games in the Comp didn't seem to think was necessary. How ironic that a game written by someone widely regarded as a troll turned out to be better than the majority of games written by the serious people! It's akin to the shrinks letting the lunatics run the asylum for a day and finding out that the shrinks did a better job.

Which isn't to say it's a perfect game. It's not. I encountered a few annoying bugs, mostly in relation to any kind of interaction with a stack of wood or the fireplace next to it. Trying to get the wood responds with the puzzling "wishes alone don't light candles". Er… what? No, it didn't make any sense to me either. Frustratingly, trying to put the wood on the fire tells me that I need to be holding the wood to do that, a physical impossibility seeing as I don't seem to be able to do that. As to whether lighting the fire is required to finish the game or not I couldn't say so maybe this is a bug that doesn't really affect anything.

But things like that are just minor quibbles in what is an otherwise excellent game. If the writer of this game is the same person who trolls the RAIG/RGIF message boards with his often puerile and never funny humour, he ought to give it a rest and write a few more games instead. He's clearly capable of holding better titles than "troll".

7 out of 10
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