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How It All Started

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Postby David Whyld » Mon May 09, 2005 8:21 pm

How It All Started - By Kevin Treadway

*** As featured in Reviews Exchange Issue 4 ***


Games by newcomers always hold a special kind of feeling for me: it’s halfway been delight (at seeing a game by a newcomer) and dread (at seeing a game by a newcomer). Sometimes newcomers write great games – The PK Girl and Unraveling God to name but two – but all too frequently it goes horribly wrong (Death Agency anyone?) It’s even rarer to get a newcomer willing to submit his first game to an ADRIFT comp, considering that games entered in comps tend to receive so much more feedback, mainly negative, than any other games. But the writer of How It All Started obviously decided he was going to take a risk.

So… how is the game?

Surprisingly it’s quite good.


So How Did It All Start?

With a goblin, apparently, and a room. So the game amusingly informs you at the very start. You start off in a generic fantasy dungeon, locked in there by a goblin called Nurgle. You have no weapons and you're without any possessions aside from a stick. No way out? Actually there's quite a good puzzle here which starts the game off well. (On the downside, the most obvious command of them all – “kill Nurgle” – isn't covered.)

Unfortunately, it’s now been a year and a half since How It All Started came out and as no subsequent games have been released, I think it’s a safe bet to assume that one was all Kevin Treadway had in him. A pity. While there are rough edges in How It All Started, it’s an accomplished game for a newcomer and boded well for any future releases.


Annoyances

Though accomplished for a game by a newcomer, How It All Started has several annoying problems. The Grotto location features a waterwheel and a shack yet the shack can’t be entered. Also in the Grotto is a gate featuring a metal panel with a slot in it. Only one item can be inserted in the slot but attempting to insert the wrong items proves an unhelpful error message stating that nothing can be put in the slot. While no big deal, it was still annoying as by the time I found the one item I needed I had tried every other item in the game and been hit with the error message every time. Some kind of better response would have been nice: “You can’t put the sword in the slot. It’s too wide.” would have worked well. There's also a pole here as well but that’s apparently nothing very special as it doesn’t even warrant a description.

Another location features a pool of water yet trying to enter the pool or swim in it doesn’t produce any proper response. Is the pool just an illusion then?

Many of the problems with the game are most likely down to the fact that the writer was a newcomer and didn’t know to cover some of the responses. A rewritten and revised version could easily fix the majority of these problems.


Short But Sweet

How It All Began isn't a very long game and aside from a few annoying guess the verb problems and non-obvious commands, it shouldn’t take you very long to get to the end of it. The end hints that it might well be a kind of prequel to a larger work but as no subsequent games have been forthcoming, maybe that’s not the case after all. A pity. While it’s got its fair share of rough edges, it’s a decent enough game and it’s a shame the author never went ahead and wrote anything else.

5 out of 10
David Whyld
 
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