This review risks being all about the presentation and interface. Which is awesome. Is this a thing I’ve missed or has the author created both a homebrew parser platform and delivery mechanism for this game. If so, can I have it? It makes me happy. It takes the antiquated delivery form of existing interpreters and brings it into 2018. We’ve got choice based links AND free text entry. we’ve got color. We’ve got quests and objectives in pleasing little boxes. We get timed text reveals. We’ve got incidental music and sound effects. At one point, on reading the storybook, it goes full-on choice. It sits nicely in the browser window and looks pretty and is entirely usable.
I had only one frustration with the interface. On entering a room, the text is nicely presented – color coded with stuff you can click on and so on. However, after the first action in the room, the text scrolls upwards (which is fine) but also is greyed out – the whole thing becomes a very light grey – which makes it difficult to see what you can do anymore. Looking brings back the text formatting, but it would be great if the room description retained its useful UI.
I banged on at length a few years ago about how awesome the Detectiveland interface was. I love this just as much. I really hope the author is generous enough to think about releasing this as a generally available development platform. I would use this in a heartbeat. I would be really interested to find out more – is this a one off or has it been developed with more games in mind? Does it have a design language underpinning it or is it all JS?
At the start the GM tells me “A couple more questions, and we can get back to the sample advent…I mean, important story.” I hope this means that this will be a generally available platform.
Yeah – this is a great thing.
Now. Anyway. On to the game.
The game is framed as an RPG. There are a couple of voices involved. In general, the actions in the game are narrated by a Games Master, who also comments on the play. Then it gets really interesting as the characters you meet in the adventure start addressing the GM directly, occasionally correcting them. It’s unusual and works very well.
And it is very well written. The prose has a light touch and is very funny in places.
At the start, I can select my name, class and gender. At which point I am placed into a fantasy world and can generally explore and meet people and get quests – the usual sort of stuff. Then….something interesting happens. The game opens up and it becomes more than just a quest based Stupid RPG. Which is acknowledged by the game itself as it launches into Act I.
Despite my love for the platform, there are some issues with the game. There are times when actions result in problematic responses.
> get berries
They’re not in my inventory. I hope I don’t need them later.
Sometimes, typed commands don’t work :
> take bottle
I understand you want to TAKE something (bottle), but I don’t understand what.
But then the hyperlinked command does.
Some common actions are not implemented. A bird flits away to the west. ‘Follow bird’ for example. On seeing an especially sturdy tree, I would expect ‘climb tree’ to give a valid response. If I have a bottle and a bottle cap, the game should at least expect me to try and ‘put cap on bottle’. Some scenes repeat. NPC’s go missing from the text (the ‘twins’, the goblin king).
The puzzles seem generally fair, but a couple of them could do with more prompting and alternate action commands. ‘wind up’ in addition to ‘wind’. That sort of thing. Then I get completely stuck. I look at the walkthrough – I seem to have done what I was supposed to do, but the person that’s supposed to be there isn’t there. (The snowglobians). I wander around a little more, but then 2 hours is up. I’m not sure whether it’s something I did, or the game.
However, I am entirely won over by the platform. There’s a huge part of me that wishes the author would have called this game something other than ‘StupidRPG’. It hasn’t had much attention yet, and I think a part of that is the title – it comes across as less than it is.
This platform’s first sample game, which seemingly is designed to show what the platform can do, is much better than the title suggests it is, despite some teething problems. 6/10.