Played to completion?: Yes
Number of Saves: 13
Cheese Rating: A well-deserved Stilton
I have some troubling questions. One: when I find a chamberpot lying around under a bed, why do I automatically take it? I certainly wouldn't if it were up to me. Second: when I do, how come I instantly know that it will hold three pints of water? Please tell me there is no such thing as a graduated chamberpot. And third: WHY would I clean a pair of glasses that has been in a sewer with the edge of my robe? Have I no sense of personal hygiene?
With the exception of a glitch involving the dumbwaiter (the description cut off after a line, in the middle of a sentence, leaving me with an inadequate idea what it looked like), I didn't catch any major coding problems with this game. There are enough puzzles, and they're difficult enough, that I wouldn't have finished the game without the excellent built-in hint system. As it was, I was pushing the two hour limit.
My most serious objection is in the design of the puzzles. There were quite a few places where I found myself wandering around, thinking, "well, now what?" I neglected to ask Ninario about his spectacles -- figuring that if he knew where they were, he would have told me -- so I wandered around the whole castle without finding any sign of them. The laboratory setup looked promising, and fun to play with, but I couldn't find anything that seemed like it was going to lead to spectacles-discovery. And I wasn't sure what else my goal was supposed to be.
A look at the hints eventually cleared up that misunderstanding, but from there on out I needed to rely on them several more times in order to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. A number of puzzle items struck me as overly convenient or else downright absurd -- though I guess the interlude with the magic carpet doesn't even try to be otherwise. I wouldn't have thought to tell Ninario to send me home, I guess because by that time I had only the most mediocre opinion of his wizardly abilities, and I thought my goal instead should be to break out of the castle and find myself someone else to send me back. I also wouldn't (I guess) have thought to mess about with the portcullis-raising machine the way one has to, although maybe I should have thought of it; we'll chalk that one up to my being slow. That is, I didn't realize that I should be experimenting with measures, instead of looking for a manual. Once I got that point, the rest was trivial. The two-sized-containers puzzle is an old chestnut with many variations, and it was more busy-work than anything else to solve it. (This illustrates a problem with riddles or logical conundrums as IF puzzles: either you get it, or you don't get it. If you've heard the solution before, you probably remember, and just using the answer to produce the desired outcome is usually not that entertaining in itself. Conversely, there's a serious possibility that you won't be able to make the intuitive leap, and will get stuck. I admit that the intuitive leap to "how do I get four units of water from containers that hold three and five units?" is much simpler than the one to solve various riddles, and one where the player can tinker around somewhat until he finds the answer, but still, I think it's a risky thing to include.)
But I don't want to be too harsh here. I did like the content of several of them; the laboratory puzzles were fun, though I was frustrated that the implementation prevented me from pouring various substances together into one container. I hadn't yet found the ball mill, and spent a lot of time trying to make gunpowder by empty pouches or flasks into each other, or into the chamberpot, looking for a container that was allowed to contain more than one thing. (I am fully aware, by the way, of how very much more annoying that would have been to code. But as a player, I wasted some time on it anyway, because I hadn't yet asked Ninario to be sent home, and therefore had no idea when I would ever be able to get through the rusty door, let alone that there was an object back there that would solve my problems. I thought that perhaps one of these days I would be able either to find or create an oil of some kind and get it open that way.) Still, the puzzles themselves that involved these objects were pretty entertaining. Identifying the substances and figuring out what to do with them was fun; I guess it relies on a little outside knowledge of chemical compounds and their appearances, but really, only a very little; I'm no chemistry expert, but I had no trouble with that part of the game. And probably you could work it out by raw deduction if necessary, from the formulae in the chem notes and the formulae on the containers.
I also enjoyed exploding the guild headquarters.
Overall, this was a smoothly-coded and often entertaining game; the storyline was less compelling than the puzzles, but still reasonably constructed. I never felt quite as involved as I did with "Gourmet", I think because my goals and personality were vaguer, and it was often unclear what bearing my immediate activities were going to have on the ultimate outcome. On the other hand, it wasn't quite as bare of story as "Recruit". So it goes right in the middle, with an 8.