IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 07:49
Nice idea for a theme and story, but kind of hard to follow. I, uh, never did find that carving that's supposed to explain what the coat does. That probably didn't help.
The author seemed to be too eager to explain things. The whole illusion motif got spelled out before I really had a chance to recognize it. Or maybe I wouldn't have recognized it before I won, but that's more because the game is so small than any deficit in the writing. The three tests went by too quickly to really differentiate the magic in the game from its surroundings. Did that make sense? Probably not; it's two in the morning. Basically, I'm saying that the fortress would have felt better if it were filled out with the same amount of care and detail that went into the village and beach.
Another thing that left me somewhat adrift was the switches between illusion and reality. There was no message that led me to believe that anything had changed. Maybe the author intended that effect, the world changing without any sensation of change -- it's certainly a disorienting effect when it really happens to you. But it's hard to convey in IF. For example, at one point I did something that affected my perceptions, without realizing it. Then I typed a command which (of course) didn't work. So I scrolled the text window up to see what I'd done wrong. If I'd typed "look" I would have seen the difference, but I had no reason not to scroll up instead. Some kind of message about changed perceptions would have fixed all that. Even a simple "Something changes." (The hints are very explicit on this subject, which leads me to believe that other people got confused too.)
Oh, and it would have been cool if there had been another layer of deception. Just my personal story-telling preference. Plots with only one stratum are too common.