IFReviewed by Greg Boettcher
on 2006-05-22 08:26
This was the first Quest game I've ever played, and my goodness. I have to start by telling what I've observed about the Quest system before I go on to review the actual game.
The Quest System
Some people might only barely consider Quest games to be interactive fiction. Although you can type in commands, the range of commands is extremely limited. From what I could tell, Quest is used mostly to make adventures that can be solved by using no verbs other than "look at," "examine," "take," "drop," "speak to," "give," the ever-popular "use," and the directional verbs such as "north" and "south." To input these verbs, you can type them in, but you can also input them via a graphical user interface on the right side of the game window. Also in that part of the screen there is also a list of nearly all the objects you can interact with. By clicking buttons and dragging various words, you can do 90% to 100% of everything you need to do to win a Quest game, without the need to type anything, and without the need to use any verbs not listed above.
In the game I played, I only found one case where a non-standard verb was implemented. In the case of one noun, it actually does work to type "open noun." But this verb was implemented badly. If you try to "open X", where X is almost any other noun, you get the same response as if you type "asdf X".
Thus, it is not very rewarding to spend much time using non-standard verbs in Quest games. There is no illusion of being able to try to do anything you can think of to type. As such, I would expect most people to almost always use the click-and-drag interface on the right-hand side of the screen. This is IF at its most rudimentary; in fact, it is barely IF at all.
Aside from verb problems, there was also a tendency for noun problems, at least in the game I played. If you want to take a beach ball, for instance, "get ball" might not work; you might have to type "get beach ball." Not very impressive.
As a result, the level of interaction in a Quest game is not adequate. At best, it feels like a graphical game with a clunky interface. But to me, having a trimmed-down interface without graphics is like having the thorn without the rose. And when it comes to interpreting textual input, Quest does a bad job.
I keep thinking to myself that, to be fair, I should not ask whether Attempted Assassination is good, but whether it's good as a Quest game. On this basis, I have to ignore the game's shallow interactivity, bad parsing of verbs, bad parsing of nouns, clunky interface where almost all interactive objects are listed, etc. By Quest standards, is Attempted Assassination good?
Well, the game begins when you wake up at 8:05, already late for work. You run to the car, arriving there at 8:08. There you find a note that says, "Your car will detonate at 8:08 this morning. Have a nice day!" So you hightail it out of there, seconds before the explosion. Then, later, you find out that the bomb was planted between 8:00 and about 8:02. My, but your guardian angel was quick at writing that note! Ah, the realism.
In another part of the game, you chase a suspicious man, who jumps through a window. You follow him until you have him cornered. Finally he says, "I don't know of any bombing on your car. I jumped out of that window because I dropped my watch." How do you respond? You say, "Oh, sorry to have bothered you then."
These cornball events might make you roll your eyes, or they might make you laugh. But even if there's some humor here, how are you supposed to enjoy it when the game is so sloppy and badly designed? The game contains rooms named "room03" and other such things; there are gruesome spelling and grammar mistakes ("no where in side" should be "nowhere in sight"); there is a car that you can't drive, but behaves for all the world like a door; and so on.
No, I can't call this game successful even by the standards of what Quest could achieve. And even if it was good as a Quest game, that would still make it pretty far from being a good game.
On the other hand, this was the author's first game. The good news is, there's plenty of room for improvement.