The eye of genius has always a plaintive expression, and its natural language is pathos.
Lydia M. Child

Login | Register


Who is Online

We have 706 registered Members.

There are no Members online.

There are 5 Guests online.

8 Stars IFReview Rating Beat the Devil

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-19 07:38 

Game Profile

Robert M. Camisa


Authoring System

Release Year

IFR Overall Rating
8 Stars IFR Overall Rating
If you grew up in suburban America in the 1980s or 90s, what would be your vision of Hell? Where would you least like to spend eternity? Where does it already feel like an eternity when you're there? That's right: a shopping mall! In Robert Camisa's Beat The Devil, Lucifer is building an addition to Hell, and you're his betatester. He overheard you mumbling about how you'd sell your soul for a chance with the object of your affections, and, being surfeited with souls already ("Washington and Hollywood provide me with all the souls I'll ever need to buy."), makes you this alternate offer: wander through this Stygian mall and defeat the incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and that date is yours. It's a fun concept, and Beat The Devil gives it an energetic, cartoonish implementation. There are a number of funny spots, though the humor tends to lean a little too far in the direction of over-the-top junior high style exaggeration. For example, to make fun of stores whose decor is all white, there's a store in the Hell-mall whose shelves are so white that they're blinding. There are a number of choices like that, which puts the humor at the lowest common denominator. Still, on the whole the game remains pretty funny, just because by being such a detailed working-out of its concepts, it manages to satirize both malls and typical depictions of Hell.

The game is clearly the product of a novice IF author, and while the writing and coding are both fairly good, each has a number of errors easily identifiable as beginner's mistakes. On the writing side, there are a number of punctuation problems: sentences missing periods, contractions missing apostrophes, quotes missing quotation marks and the like. The grammar and spelling are better, though an occasional glitch will slip through on those as well from time to time. On the coding side, there are a few little oversights such as some objects missing short_names, disambiguation problems caused by objects whose names are too short, and a number of unimplemented first-level nouns. More interesting is another slip-up. Searching the shelves in one store yields this:

Yada yada..blow dust..yada yada..small white packet.. yada yada...
again with the no gold or jewels. Sigh.

The description didn't make much sense to me until I reached another store, searched its shelves, and found this description:

You blow dust off the shelf, almost choking yourself from the resultant
cloud, but you uncover a pair of pliers, which you pocket. Personally,
I'dve preferred gold or jewels, but beggars can't be choosers.

Clearly, the game assumed I would search the shelves in the opposite order that I did. This is an easy mistake to make, especially if you're concentrating on making sure your game is winnable by focusing on a particular walkthrough path. Vexingly, it's also the sort of thing that your betatesters won't always find -- if they go through the game in the same order that you envisioned, no problems will be apparent. Writing text that is dependent on some other text already having been displayed is very tempting in IF, but you have to be careful that you take account of what happens if that text hasn't yet been seen.

These are minor mistakes, and can be cleaned up easily in a subsequent release of the game. They don't much interfere with enjoyment. The same could be said of the puzzles. While there are a couple of sticky spots, most of the puzzles are either pretty obvious or rather clever. The "obvious" part of that evaluation may sound like an insult, but I don't intend it as one. I'm a fan of obvious puzzles -- they're a lot better than "guess-what-the-author-is-thinking" puzzles, and in an author's first game you're more likely to find the latter than the former. The clever ones include a nifty device reminiscent of the "T" remover in Leather Goddesses. The one real clunker is flawed in a way that, again, marks it as a beginner's error. There's an object in the game that will destroy anything put into it. When you try to put anything into it, you'll see a funny default message about how destroying something you may need later is a dumb thing to do, and the game won't let you do it. However, there is one object you must destroy in such a way in order to win the game. Based on the default message, there's no way of knowing that the destroyer will react differently to one particular thing. This isn't a problem with the puzzle so much as the way it is implemented -- it's like a hungry troll saying "I don't want to eat!" when offered the wrong kind of food, rather than saying "I don't want to eat that!" If the default message were worded slightly differently, the player could twig to the fact that although the attempted action is wrong, a similar one might be right. This is the sort of thing you learn with experience, either of writing a lot of IF or playing a lot of it, or both. Beat the Devil is an auspicious start, and I look forward to the author's next game.

Paul OBrian Profile

Name Paul OBrian
Gender Male

Also IFReviewed by

Andrew Plotkin

This IFReviewer IFReviews

- 1-2-3...
- 2112
- A Bear
- A Crimson Spring
- A Day for Soft Food
- A Day In The Life Of A Superhero
- A Good Breakfast
- A Light's Tale
- A Moment of Hope
- A New Day
- A Night Guest
- A Paper Moon
- A Party to Murder
- Aayela
- Acid Whiplash
- Ad Verbum
- Adoo's Stinky Story
- Aftermath
- Al Otro Lado
- Alien Abduction?
- All Things Devours
- Amnesia
- an apple from nowhere
- And the Waves Choke the Wind
- Arrival, or Attack of the B-Movie Cliches
- Asendent
- At Wit's End
- Augustine
- Aunt Nancy's House
- Babel
- Baluthar
- Bane of the Builders
- Begegnung am Fluss
- Being Andrew Plotkin
- Bellclap
- Best of Three
- Bio
- Blade Sentinel
- Blink
- Bliss
- Blue Chairs
- Blue Sky
- Breaking the Code
- CaffeiNation
- Calliope
- Carma
- Castle Amnos
- Cattus Atrox
- CC
- Cerulean Stowaway
- Chaos
- Chicks Dig Jerks
- Chronicle Play Torn
- coffee quest II
- Color and Number
- Colours
- Coming Home
- Comp00ter Game
- Concrete Paradise
- Congratulations!
- Constraints
- Crusade
- Curse of Eldor
- Curse of Manorland
- Death to my Enemies
- Delusions
- Desert Heat: A Romance Of Sorts
- Dinner with Andre
- Domicile
- Don't Be Late
- Down
- Downtown Tokyo, Present Day
- E-Mailbox
- Elements
- Enlightenment
- Enlisted
- Episode In The Life Of An Artist
- Erehwon
- Eric's Gift
- Escape from Crulistan
- Evacuate
- Exhibition
- Fear
- Fifteen
- Film at Eleven
- Fine Tuned
- For a Change
- Fort Aegea
- Four in One
- Four Mile Island
- Four Seconds
- Friday Afternoon
- Fusillade
- Futz Mutz
- Getting Back To Sleep
- Glowgrass
- Goofy
- Goose, Egg, Badger
- Got ID?
- Gourmet
- Grayscale
- Guard Duty
- Guess the Verb!
- Halothane
- Hell: A Comedy of Errors
- Hercules First Labor
- Heroes
- House of the Stalker
- Human Resources Stories
- Hunter, in Darkness
- I Didn't Know You Could Yodel
- I Must Play
- Identity
- Identity Thief
- In the End
- In the Spotlight
- Informatory
- Internal Documents
- Invasion of the Angora-fetish Transvestites from the Graveyards of Jupiter
- Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win
- Jane
- Janitor
- Jarod's Journey
- Journey from an Islet
- Jump
- Kaged
- Kallisti
- King Arthur's Night Out
- Kissing the Buddha's Feet
- Koan
- Kurusu City
- Leaves
- Letters from Home
- Life on Beal Street
- Lightiania
- Lists and Lists
- Little Billy
- Little Blue Men
- little girl in the big world
- Lomalow
- Lovesong
- Lunatix
- Lurk. Unite. Die. Invent. Think. Expire.
- Madame L'Estrange and the Troubled Spirit
- Magocracy
- Maiden of the Moonlight
- Marooned
- Masquerade
- Metamorphoses
- Mingsheng
- Moments Out of Time: Explorer Type
- Moonbase
- Murder At The Aero Club
- Muse: An Autumn Romance
- Music Education
- My Angel
- My First Stupid Game
- Mystery Manor
- MythTale
- Nevermore
- Ninja V1.30
- No Room
- No Time to Squeal
- Not Much Time
- Of Forms Unknown
- On the Farm
- Only After Dark
- Order
- Out of the Study
- Outsided
- Pass the Banana
- Persistence of Memory
- Phlegm
- Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection
- Photopia
- Phred Phontious and the Quest for Pizza
- Piece of Mind
- Pintown
- Planet of the Infinite Minds
- Poor Zefron's Almanac
- Prized Possession
- Prodly the Puffin
- Punk Points
- Punkirita Quest 1: Liquid
- Purple
- Ralph
- Rameses
- Ramon and Jonathan
- Rape, Pillage, Galore!
- Redeye
- Remembrance
- Rent-A-Spy
- Research Dig
- Return to Zork: Another Story
- Reverberations
- Rippled Flesh
- Risorgimento Represso
- Ritual of Purification
- Ruined Robots
- Sardoria
- Scary House Amulet!
- Scavenger
- Schroedinger's Cat
- Screen
- Shade
- Shadows on the Mirror
- She's Got a Thing for a Spring
- Silicon Castles
- Sins Against Mimesis
- Six Stories
- Skyranch
- Slouching Towards Bedlam
- Small World
- Sophie's Adventure
- Spacestation
- Splashdown
- Spodgeville Murphy and the Jewelled Eye of Wossname
- Square Circle
- Stack Overflow
- Stargazer: An Adventure In Outfitting
- Stick It to the Man
- Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country
- Sting Of The Wasp
- Stone Cell
- Stranded
- Strangers in the Night
- Stupid Kittens
- Sun and Moon
- Sunset Over Savannah
- Sweet Dreams
- Sylenius Mysterium
- Symetry
- Tapestry
- Temple of Kaos
- Temple of the Orc Mage
- Terrible Lizards
- The Adventures of the President Of The United States
- The Atomic Heart
- The Beetmonger's Journal
- The Best Man
- The Big Mama
- The Big Scoop
- The Case of Samuel Gregor
- The Cave of Morpheus
- The Chasing
- The City
- The Clock
- The Coast House
- The Commute
- The Cruise
- The Djinni Chronicles
- The Edifice
- The End Means Escape
- The Erudition Chamber
- The Evil Sorcerer
- The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky
- The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang
- The Gostak
- The Granite Book
- The Great Xavio
- The HeBGB Horror!
- The Isolato Incident
- The Land Beyond the Picket Fence
- The Last Just Cause
- The Lost Spellmaker
- The Masque of the Last Faeries
- The Meteor, The Stone And A Long Glass Of Sherbet
- The Moonlit Tower
- The Newcomer
- The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf
- The Orion Agenda
- The Pickpocket
- The PK Girl
- The Plant
- The Realm
- The Recruit
- The Tempest
- The Temple
- The Test
- The Town Dragon
- The Trip
- The Water Bird
- Thorfinn's Realm
- Threading the Labyrinth
- Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
- Timeout
- To Otherwhere and Back
- Tookie's Song
- Trading Punches
- Transfer
- Trapped in a One-Room Dilly
- Travels in the Land of Erden
- Triune
- Typo
- Unholy Grail
- Unnkulia X: Escape of the Sacrificed
- Unraveling God
- Vicious Cycles
- VirtuaTech
- Volcano Isle
- What-IF?
- When Help Collides
- Where Evil Dwells
- Who Created That Monster?
- Winter Wonderland
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Wrecked
- Yes, Another Game With A Dragon!
- You Are Here
- You Were Doomed From the Start
- Zero One
- Zero Sum Game
- Zombie!