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2 Stars IFReview Rating Mystery Manor

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-20 10:05 

Game Profile

Author
Dana Crane and Mystery

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Adrift

Release Year
2001

IFR Overall Rating
2 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
I played this game on Halloween. I was alone in the house. The lights were off. There was a full moon outside. I was experiencing an eerie lull in the trick-or-treating. I could not have been more primed to be creeped out, frightened, and made into a paranoid wreck. Sadly, even when conditions are perfect, this game falls far short of effectiveness in the creep-out arena. The only thing that's really scary about it is its writing. Observe, IF YOU DARE:

A swirl of icey air rushes past you, with bringing the sound of a
womans screams. Just as you are about to make a run for it , the
bloody decapitated body blocks your way. Holding her head in front of
your face, so she may get a good look at you, the bloody head
whimpers, "You are not the one" with that the ghost flees with a ear
piercing scream.

Hmm, let's see. "Icey" instead of "icy". "With bringing the sound"? "Womans screams" instead of "woman's screams". Bizarre space before the comma (following "run for it".) "The" bloody decapitated body? It was never mentioned before this. "Holding her head... the bloody head whimpers" -- very funny misplaced modifier. "With that" should begin a new sentence, and there should be a period after "the one". "A ear piercing scream" instead of "an ear-piercing scream". And that's just three sentences! It's too bad this game didn't give out points every time I spotted an error, because if it did, I think I'd have earned 524,000 points out of a possible 200, earning me the rank of Gibbering Grammarian.

Oh, or how about this: forget the writing errors -- what if the game gave out points every time I spotted an implementation error! Man, I'd have scored big-time during scenes like this:

LOOK
You are in the dining room [...] The room is dark, lit only by
reflections from lightning outdoors.

X TABLE
This is a nostalgic oak dining table. The surface reflects the
overhead lighting. It has a beautiful oak finish.

So the table's surface reflects the overhead lighting, even when there is no overhead lighting! Oooh, spooky! Elsewhere, a whiskey bottle contains more spirits than just the alcoholic kind:

OPEN BOOZE
You open the bottle of whiskey.

DRINK WHISKEY
I don't think you'll get anything out of the bottle if it isn't
opened. Your mouth is dry, palms moist.

OPEN BOOZE
The bottle of whiskey is already open!

DRINK WHISKEY
I don't think you'll get anything out of the bottle if it isn't
opened. Your mouth is dry, palms moist.

I keep opening it, but some invisible force stops me from drinking it! Don't look now Scooby, but I think that whiskey bottle is... HAUNTED! Too bad, because I could really have used a belt at that point.

Then there were the numerous problems that were probably ADRIFT's fault rather than the game's. There's the famous "Nothing special" line whenever you EXAMINE <any word the parser doesn't know>, including EXAMINE PARSER. Always a pleasure. There are the pop-up graphics that I think failed to pop up. (I'm guessing this based on the fact that I had files like "UfloorPL.bmp" in my directory, yet X UPPER FLOOR PLAN yielded no graphics.) There are the "cannot draw map -- too complex" errors that the mapper gave me EVERY SINGLE FREAKING TURN after a while. There's this sort of interaction:

X REFRIGERATOR
It is a large stainless steel refrigerator, with magnets strewed
about the surface. You don't notice any kind of fingerprints or
smudges on it. The refrigerator is closed.

OPEN REFRIGERATOR
You open the refrigerator.

LOOK IN REFRIGERATOR
It is a large stainless steel refrigerator, with magnets strewed
about the surface. You don't notice any kind of fingerprints or
smudges on it. The refrigerator is open.

Yes, I know it's open, but what's inside it? Apparently the ADRIFT parser searches on keywords and just ignores those other tiresome words that might happen to surround the keywords, thus neatly avoiding pretty much the entire concept of prepositions. My favorite extreme example of this tendency (from this game anyway):

[THIS SUPPOSEDLY SCARY STUFF STARTS TO GET REALLY BANAL AFTER A WHILE]
Take what?

"Hey man," says the ADRIFT parser, "I don't care what else you say -- as long as you type "GET" anywhere in there, I'm going to ask, 'Take what?' Um... not that I'll be able to handle it if you actually answer me." Okay, one more example then I promise I'll quit:

LIE IN BED
You can't lie in the bed.

LIE ON BED
You can't lie on the bed.

LIE DOWN
You lie down on the ground.

LIE DOWN ON BED
I don't understand what you want me to do with the bed.

GET UP
You stand up.

LIE DOWN ON BED
You stand on the bed.

Yay! Endless hours of fun. Not the sort of fun that the game seems to expect me to be having, but still. The endless well of humor from a terrible game was just the thing to lighten up a potentially scary Halloween night. Too bad that sort of thing doesn't factor into the rating.

Paul OBrian Profile

Name Paul OBrian
Gender Male

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