IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin
on 2006-06-25 07:34
I was pretty darn pleased with this one. It goes to show that you can be original without being experimental -- and please don't take that as a criticism. I read plenty of non-experimental genre fiction.
Sherbet's setting is particularly clever, a world clearly descended from ancient Quendor, but advanced beyond the age of Magic to a baroque Ruritanian scenario. (This comes across very nicely in your character's reactions to various levels of technology.) The plot brings you into a corner of the old world, though, so it becomes a lot more familiar as you progress. Now that I come to think about it, this is even more clever than it seems; a game written in the style of the Infocom fantasy titles, without either ignoring the issue of the similarity or being explicitly set in that era.
The writing and level of description were fine. The interaction wasn't so good -- a lot of missing synonyms, some of which were confusing in their missingness. (I found myself checking the hints a lot, often to find that I had thought of the correct solution but had been unable to phrase it right. On the plus side, this kind of flaw is easily fixed.) In a few places, though, the required actions were too convoluted for my tastes. And in one spot at the end, I reached a total dead-end because of something I forgot to do earlier; there was no obvious way to tell what I'd forgotten.
The scenario is a little strangely presented, too. Your character has a "secret mission" which you-the-player are not aware of. You have to infer it from hints in the game. It's not hard to figure out, especially by virtue of where the plot takes you. But it's the kind of thing I don't like in a game.
On the whole, though, I liked Sherbet. Engaging plot, a nicely-sketched antagonist. Fun.