Almost as bad as no lead-in is too much lead-in. Worse yet is if the
wodges of text come larded with misused words and misplaced apostrophes.
For instance, we learn at the beginning of this game, amid a great deal
of family history and implied mystery, that grandpa felt "little
remorse" at grandma's funeral; but remorse would only be suitable,
really, if he'd offed the old biddy himself (surely not!).
The whole of the game is flawed in similar ways: misused words, abused
apostrophes, simple game-design carelessness. Descriptive sections
include such things as:
You see the first photograph, the second photograph, the third
photograph, and the fourth photograph here.
Why not label them as to content, or introduce them more subtly? I think
I detect, in many places in this game, indications that the authors are
relatively new to TADS, and that they are comfortable doing the
straightforward tasks but uncertain about the customizing nuances that
smooth over awkward bits.
The puzzles are also generally not very exciting, and mostly consist of
finding things and applying them, without that much by way of reward
offered for diligence. My strongest puzzle-related memory from this game
is that I drove myself crazy trying to get into a certain section which
was sort of but not entirely off-limits: I could enter it, but a timed
sequence of events would drive me out again. There was, of course, a
solution to this, but I didn't know enough about the game to know for
certain that the solution wasn't to be found *inside* the area that I
kept being forced out of. So I made many frustratingly brief exploratory
missions before I finally gave up, consulted the walkthrough, and
discovered that the correct way of dealing with the problem lay
somewhere else entirely in an area I was not yet aware of. I would
complain even more strenuously if the game design *had* necessitated
repeated trips into the semi-restricted area; as it was, it was just my
own stubbornness and failure to explore another puzzle adequately that
had me rushing back in there over and over. But I still don't
particularly care for this effect, I'm afraid.
Story and atmosphere were likewise mostly unexceptional, with a few
standout bits. Some of the most endearing features were things that I
assume are accurate observations of the real coast house on which this
is modelled. I ordinarily don't care for real-life details when said
real-life details are, e.g., a careful implementation of your television
and VCR: I know how those behave and derive no joy from manipulating
them in virtual form. Perhaps what sets this apart from other
implementations of well-known places is that I have not, in fact, ever
spent that much time at a vacation house like this one, so it struck me
as peculiar and intriguing. I was oddly touched by the Piggly Wiggly
The backstory itself, as finally revealed, seemed tonally out of place,
or at least to belong to a different mood from the rest of the game.
Summary: An unambitious little game with some nice atmospheric touches,
lacking a lot in surface polish.