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 David Whyld » Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:30 am

Distress by Mike Snyder

Mike Snyder entered a game in the IFComp in 2004 called Trading Punches which I liked a lot to begin with, but less and less the more I played it. In many ways, I felt the same about Distress. It takes an interesting subject matter – a spaceship crash landing on an alien world, two of the crew are injured and you have to save them, throws in a monster lurking around – and then focuses too much on the minor details and misses out on the more interesting ones. I spent way too long chasing around a sheet of vellum, tying one item to another and the like and not enough exploring what could have been a very interesting game.

In some ways I liked Distress. In others it was a frustrating game and an even more frustrating game playing experience. Frequently I would try to venture off in one direction only to be told that I had no reason to go that way yet. Yes, it’s one of those games where perfectly logical commands – i.e. exploring the general layout of the land – is restricted until certain requirements have been met. While this limits the player from wandering off completely at random and ensures the games progresses in a nice, orderly manner, it’s also somewhat annoying to be told you can’t do something without a better rationale than “you’ve no reason to do that” being given. If I want to wander away from the crash site, shouldn’t I be given the option to do so?

There also seem to be a number of timed events which generally annoy me. Certain things occur that halt the progression of the game until after they’ve occurred. Here it’s a tad more annoying than usual as the WAIT command doesn’t move matters on, so a good portion of my time spent with Distress was moving back and forth between a couple of locations hoping to trigger the next event. While timed events are logical, they're also annoying.

But… overall I found myself liking Distress. Frustrating bits aside, and there are more than a few, it was well written and overall interesting. I'm not sure how long I would have continued with it if there hadn’t been a walkthrough accompanying it as it’s also the kind of game to kill off the unwary player frequently. (And with the monster turning up and eating you being a timed event, it’s one you're not going to avoid just by being in a different location when it occurs.) It also kind of irked me that game wouldn’t give me any hints until I’d first typed HELP. Why? Either the author was looking for news ways to introduce annoying aspects into his game or he thinks this kind of thing is a good idea.

Overall, this is probably better than the rating I've given it but I knocked a point or two off for the frustrations.

5 out of 10
David Whyld
Posts: 6926
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2004 5:15 pm
Location: United Kingdom
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