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5 Stars IFReview Rating The Coast House

IFReviewed by Emily Short on 2006-08-01 05:06 

Game Profile

Author
Dan Newton and Stephen Newton

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Tads2

Release Year
2001

IFR Overall Rating
6 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
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 bag.

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.

Emily Short Profile

IFReviewer Rating
10 Stars IFReviewer Overall Rating

Name Emily Short
Gender Female

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