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6 Stars IFReview Rating Hell: A Comedy of Errors

IFReviewed by Emily Short on 2006-08-01 04:40 

Game Profile

Author
John Evans

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2002

IFR Overall Rating
5 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
House or Office: No
Played to completion?: Probably not, but I made several good-faith efforts
Rating: 6

I wanted to like this game more than I did. I don't really care one way or the other about the scenario — the demons don't offend me, and they don't fascinate me either — but I approve of what seemed set up to be a simulationist puzzle, with lots of ways to try to maximize your profits and a variety of interesting tools and techniques at your disposal.

But it didn't turn out to fulfill this promise, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the game informs you that you can wring extra Penance out of certain souls by recognizing their weaknesses — but I found it almost impossible to tell by looking at them what those weaknesses might possibly be, and how they correlated with certain items in the landscape; it took me long enough just charting out what resulted from what stone in my digging staff. I didn't have enough resources to explore thoroughly and figure out what the various effects really were.

Also, the damned thing crashed on me bigtime. I'm not sure whether this is because my system is just wonky or what, but it took down my whole computer. Sigh. So, er, I guess my recommendation would be to add more description to the souls so that it would be easier to make a logical guess about what tortures and/or locations would be most likely to terrorize them. And possibly give the player some more information about what the stones do, since once you have chosen it is impossible to go back.

I played several times, and each time I got up over 20 penance and then found myself stuck with some recalcitrant souls I couldn't break. Nonetheless I'm giving this an extra grace point because it managed to engage me enough that I tried repeatedly, even though I came to it at the end of a long series of increasingly wearying experiences.

Side note: I wonder whether a game like this might benefit from a Lock-and-Key-like display of the various rooms as they're built onto the map. You'd have to switch to Glulx, of course, to do that, but I think it might be fun.

Emily Short Profile

IFReviewer Rating
10 Stars IFReviewer Overall Rating

Name Emily Short
Gender Female

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