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House Husband

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Postby David Whyld » Mon May 09, 2005 8:20 pm

House Husband - By C. Henshaw

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

There were a number of problems with House Husband, the main one being that nowhere in the game does it actually state what you're supposed to be doing. Fortunately, the author had posted a message about the game on the ADRIFT forum a while back about the game so I'm aware that the general idea is to pick up items and drop them in the bin in the kitchen then drop that bin in a wheelie bin outside. Unfortunately anyone who didn’t read that thread is most likely not going to have a clue what the game is about or how to make any progress.

Another problem, although not really a problem in the usual sense of the word, is that at heart this isn’t a very interesting idea for a game. You wander around your house and tidy it up. Hmmm… I hate housework in real life and don’t have any more enthusiasm for it in a game. Quite why this would be considered a good subject for a text adventure I'm not sure.

There are a few peculiarities with the way the game handles certain things, which I'm guessing is down more to the fact that this is the author’s first game and she's probably missing quite a few things that people with a couple more games under their belt would spot. In the first location are several bottles but none of them can be referred to as “bottle”. In fact, the bottle of tiger beer has to be referred to as “tiger beer” as neither “tiger” or “beer” on their own work. In the same room is a television that can’t be watched or turned on. There are also some curtains which can’t be opened because the player, apparently, isn’t in the mood! The same applies to the window. While that’s certainly a better default response than “you can’t do that”, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Wandering around the house and tidying things up seems to be just about all this game has going for it and it wasn’t long before my patience was beginning to wear thin. It isn’t helped much by the fact that most of the items you need to find are concealed either under or behind other items, meaning a good part of the time spent playing House Husband was spent typing “look behind [item]” or “look under [item]” which isn’t a thrilling experience by any means.

The score is displayed on the status bar at the bottom of the screen but, irrespective of what it currently is, typing “score” displays a message saying that your score is “[number] out of a maximum of 0”. Even when I’d remembered enough about the game from forum posts to realise what I needed to do and managed to boost my score above 10, I still kept getting this message.

For a game, House Husband has too many flaws for me to recommend. It looks to have gone through nothing more than minimal testing and the basic idea, tidying up your house, just isn’t interesting enough to make forgive want to play it.

3 out of 10
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Postby Chenshaw » Fri May 27, 2005 9:28 pm

I'm giving away information here so...


I think the difference between the two reviews given for this game is that Rafgon actually played to the point of discovering the plot, whereas it seems David gave up too early (perhaps, since he doesn't mention the plot). However, this goes to show that having a subtle plot isn't very useful if the action or descriptions aren't interesting enough to keep game players going until things begin to become more clear. There is no introduction to what you have to 'do' because the character himself doesn't know. Also, cleaning the house (and becoming frustrated by the routine) was a reflection of the character's state of mind and the state of his relationship with Marta, not the actual point of the game, (although of course in this context, frustration isn't good for keeping players interested!).

There were actually four different endings, 3 bad and 1 sort of good (you escape), but I can see Rafgon's point that once you know the plot, it's not very interesting to have to get through all the tasks. I don't agree that these points have to be bad, necessarily, but I do think that in future, having multiple endings and difficult or numourous tasks are only going to work if the story or action is interesting enough to keep the player going - to explore the different endings and work for the results. For example, with At the Seaside, I never did figure out what to do, because I got a bit bored, and ran out of time for the voting period to figure out the ending - which is the last thing any game writer wants to happen!

As for the scoring - that was just me not knowing what to do when it kept resetting itself during editing, and in the end I ran out of time to figure it all out.
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Postby David Whyld » Fri May 27, 2005 10:47 pm

I didn't play the game for that long because, well, it didn't interest me enough. Sorry. Throw in a few battles next time, okay?

I resorted to the walkthrough pretty soon but gave up with that after a while because it seemed to be broken, i.e. following it command by command often led me to error messages because what was in the walkthrough wasn't exactly what needed to be typed in the game. And I also had a crash every time I tried to "pull knob"* :) in the shower.

Aside from anything else, it's a game about tidying up a house which isn't a very interesting idea full stop. If the game hadn't been entered in a comp I was planning to write reviews of, I doubt I'd have played it at all.

* That's the knob on the shower if you're interested.
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