IFReviewed by Greg Boettcher on 2006-05-22 08:47
This game has an interesting premise: you, the king, have recently died, but your subjects have resurrected you. The kingdom is in danger, and they're convinced that only you can help. The problem is, you were just getting to enjoy being dead. Now that you're alive, what do you plan to do now? It'd be nice to help your kingdom a little bit, but heck, you already helped them when you were alive the first time, right? No, your main goal is to die.
Is this an original premise? It seemed so to me. When I asked a knowledgeable friend about this, she told me that there have been at least two or three other games whose goal is to die, but she said that it would be a spoiler to say what they were. I'm going to take this to mean that this game is fairly original. Even if there have been games with a roughly similar goal, they obviously handled it in a different way, since in this game it is not a spoiler to tell you that death is the object of the game.
Technically it's not hard to kill yourself in this game. The problem is, when you're dead, you're not exactly in a position to keep your subjects from resurrecting you. To complete the game, you have to die, shall we say, in a more permanent way. That is far from easy, and even if you succeed, it is possible that you will still not get the best ending, depending on how you deal with a few non-suicide-related things. This makes for a challenging experience, with a lot of potential for replayability.
There are some funny moments here, as in most of David Whyld's games. I found it amusing that the game's "score" consists of how many times you've killed yourself. From the very first move, your "successful suicide attempts" are given in the game's status bar.
The writing is generally good, and the puzzles are well designed. I admit I resorted to a walkthrough, but that's because I was under time pressure because of this review collection. The crucial puzzles were logical enough that I probably could have solved them without the walkthrough. (The game also has hints, but these are not as helpful as the walkthrough; they are basically just static suggestions based on what room you're in.)
The main problem has to do with a few guess-the-syntax puzzles. There are at least three cases where unusual syntax is required. I'm not sure if veteran ADRIFT players are likely to be able to guess the syntax here, but I wasn't. This, and a few other little things, added up to the general impression that the author wasn't trying as hard as he could to improve the game's interactive aspect. This is the characteristic weakness I've seen in all the David Whyld games I've looked at so far. His games are well written, but sparsely implemented; he's not aiming for perfection in the interactive realm.
Overall, I found this game entertaining, yet flawed. I can't give it my highest praise, but I recommend it to anybody who's interested in it after reading this review.