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Albridge Manor

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Postby davidw » Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:34 pm

Albridge Manor by Woody Ross

Not every game succeeds at what it sets out to do. Albridge Manor - supposedly a horror game involving the exploration of a creepy manor - unfortunately fails to be either horrifying or creepy. That's not to say it's a terrible game - it's not - but when a game is marketed as horror and it fails to make you feel even slightly on the edge of your seat, it can pretty much be deemed to have failed.
The basic storyline is one used time and again in adventure games - the haunted house. You and two friends - Angie and Theo - are on the way to a party when your car breaks down. Theo goes to a nearby house to call for help… and never returns. You and Angie, as often happens in such circumstances, decide to go and find him. Though the idea has been used countless times before, it's still a fairly good one and while the introduction to Albridge Manor is hardly going to win any literary awards, it's at least competent enough and does a decent job of setting the scene. Unfortunately the game goes quickly downhill after that.

There are several annoyingly obvious things the writer seems to have missed at the very start of the game: trying to open the front door of the haunted house (surely the first thing you'd try after becoming trapped inside) leads to me being told that the secret door (which I hadn't discovered at this stage!) must need a key. Subsequent attempts to get the front door open resulted in the same message. So one of the first things any player is likely to try leads to you discovering a secret door - not a good start.

The layout of the manor is pretty standard as far as layouts go: a fair number of rooms, some of them hidden by darkness which needs to be beaten by finding a light source. Most of the items needed to complete the game are lying around and don't require much in the way of puzzle solving to acquire, although matters are generally made more complicated by the examine command failing to show up anything significant while the search command works fine. So quite often you might well come across something you need and yet fail to find it due to this strange guess the verb usage.

Albridge Manor isn't a difficult game to finish. There are no real puzzles that require any actual thought to solve; for the most part it's just a case of finding the items you need and then finding the location needed to bury them.

Ultimately the ending is unsatisfying. Despite your best efforts, both Angie and Theo die and you wind up spending the rest of your days in an insane asylum due to your experiences at Albridge Manor. All in all, I felt a better ending was called for. There's just something deeply annoying about finishing a game - even an easy one - and discovering the player goes mad (it's akin to finishing the game and then dying. Why bother playing in the first place?). Makes the whole thing seem rather pointless.

Logic: 6 out of 10
Not being able to open (or attempt to open) the front door at the start of the game was a bad case of logic failing although aside from that there was nothing particularly illogical about the game.

Problems: 6 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
The aforementioned failure to open the front door was the worst problem although having to search to discover items when examine wouldn't work was annoying as well.

Story: 4 out of 10
The intro was nice enough but sadly the rest of the game was a letdown. Haunted houses have been used so many times before that unless the writer can bring something new to the idea then there's no real need to write another haunted house game.

Characters: 3 out of 10
Angie and a ghost, neither of whom have much to say.

Writing: 5 out of 10
Mainly average.

Game: 4 out of 10
It was diverting for the hour it took to play through but there's nothing here that would really get me to recommend it to anyone.

Overall: 28 out of 60
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