Flowers of Mysteria

 

cover (4)

 

You are at the top of the stairs.

Exits : east, west, down

What now?

>

Spoilers ahoy. I recommend you play this game before you read this review.

Utterly and un-apologetically old school, Flowers of Mysteria is like a Scott Adams adventure has been brought joyously into the 2018 IFcomp. I love everything about it.

First of all, you need a lot of trust to play this game. It comes as an executable and my AV software and Windows are both squawking that it might not be safe. Hey, I ran it anyway – what have I got to be so protective about? For those intrepid adventurers who follow me – nothing bad happened.

What we have is (I think) a homebrew parser that takes a limited command set. It’s up front with it, though. Right at the outset I am given the commands I need to play the game. It’s probably a good job, too – verbs like ‘dislodge’ or ‘comfort’ – real guess the verb nonsense if they weren’t given to the player.

“Your quest is to cure the Fisher King of his illness. When he fell ill, the
once fertile land became barren. You must collect the four legendary flowers of
Mysteria and make from them a herbal remedy.”

That’s not me paraphrasing – that’s what you get in the text. No messing about with backstory, motives, character, investigation of the protagonist inner life. This is proper old school. Here is your quest. Collect some objects. Get at it.

And, to my delight – I’ve played for a few minutes, I try and take some money and I get: “You are carrying too much to take that.” – An inventory limit! Oh no!

I hope I’m not coming across as sarcastic in any way. I honestly mean this – I am having the time of my life. This game, as a throwback to the 80’s early parser games, is a perfect little gem. I have played some astonishing Interactive Fiction over the years – but launching and playing this game gave me a little wriggle of delight and nostalgia I haven’t felt for a long time.

Judging is so subjective! You just know I’m going to give this game high marks.

Ultimately, this game needs to be judged on the fairness of the puzzles. I have played it for the full two hours – I got most of the way through, but I did go to the walkthru at the end, simply because I wanted to see how it turned out and complete it within the time limit. Like all old school games, you spend a lot of time wandering about cursing at the screen about the inventory limit and then going back to the vaguely central room you store all your objects in and picking up the right object and then traipsing back again to use it.

In general, the puzzles are relatively simple. I struggled with the Wolf and discovered the solution almost by accident – it felt slightly underclued. NPC’s are present, and you can talk to them and ask them about stuff, but what they have to say is rarely interesting or useful.

Also, the fishing puzzle wasn’t unfair, but I did feel it wasn’t well implemented. You have a rod, some string and a fly and you need to catch a fish. Obvious? It should be. In fact, the string wasn’t needed. I got lucky after spinning around various combinations of Attach and Tie.

Some people, like me, are going to love this game. Others….well…not so much. Interactive Fiction has come a long way but every now and again it’s nice just to let nostalgia take over. I was lost in this game for 2 hours. 7/10.

 

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