In the order I played the games - I think...
Anyone who has played De Baron will recognise Victor Gijsber's style in
this story. The multiple endings, the complex conversation menus, the
final open-ended questions. But this is no Baron.
Which is a shame, really, because there is a lot to like about Fate: the
relationships between characters; the moral choices given; the puzzles,
which give the player a sense of the difficulties the PC must overcome.
You are the Queen, and you are about to give birth to your first child.
But you know that your baby will not survive unless you can change his
fate. The heir to the throne, Prince Harold, sees the child as a threat
to his inheritance; the King may try to use the baby as a political pawn
against your mother, who is leading a rebel army. The only chance for
your child is for you to use your powers of sorcery to control the future
- but the price will be high...
The characters and their backstories are Fate's great strength.
Interaction with NPCs are fairly limited, but the main characters are
complex and believable. The King is particularly well delineated, and his
choices contrast confrontingly with those of the PC.
The puzzles are mostly nicely integrated with the plot and help you learn
more about the story. They are also easy and several have multiple
solutions, so even a puzzle-challenged player like myself can actually
choose between endings. There were one or two which seemed unrealistic,
given that the PC is about to give birth. Perhaps they were intended to
illustrate the PC's desperacy to save her unborn child, but if so, this
could have been made much clearer.
There are some problems with underimplementation and presentation. For
instance, you can't refer to the pixie's wings as "wing". The
conversation menus look untidy, and there is no way of escaping from them
unless you select an option; if you don't like any of your options, it's
too bad. Nothing show-stopping, but enough to lose points.
My main problem with this game is its tone. Despite its premise being
serious and quite dark, and most of the text supporting this, it
occasionally falls into farce, awkwardly breaking the mood. This is most
noticeable where the puzzles are concerned; the solution to getting into
the King's apartments is particularly ridiculous.
Despite the griping tone of this review, I enjoyed Fate. It's just a
shame that these issues stopped me from enjoying it more.
It's just an ordinary night shift for the crew of the Volant, until they
are confronted by two Techthon ships. The Techthons claim there is a
fugitive onboard the Volant, and if the crew doesn't give him up, they
will board and hunt him out themselves. Knowing the Techthons, this would
be a bad thing.
Starship Volant: Stowaway is a short, linear game, and what puzzles it
has aren't difficult. There are CYOA-like decision points here and there,
but (if it even matters which one you choose) these don't usually lead to
alternative storylines; there's one correct choice, and if you get it
wrong, you lose. (Fortunately, it tends to be pretty obvious which choice
you should make.) A lot of the time, you can get through a scene just by
WAITing and TALKing TO everyone you come into contact with. If there's
something specific you have to do before you can go on to the next scene,
it's made clear.
Starship Volant, intriguingly, begins by allowing you to select any of
five characters and explore the spaceship. During the prologue, you can
switch between these characters as often as you like. But the game never
really does anything interesting with this. There's nothing to do during
the prologue but wander about, look at things and talk to people; when
you think you've exhausted these possibilities, you SKIP to the real
game. I'd have preferred to see the prologue more integrated with the
rest of the game, with a few introductory puzzles just to keep things
moving. There really isn't much information in the prologue that you need
later in the game, and nothing you can't discover later. And while the
player character does change regularly (dizzying often at times), you
don't get any say in this after the prologue.
Talking of characters, there are a lot of people on the Starship Volant,
and the game (especially during the prologue) gives a host of little
details about their personalities and relationships. But these details
don't go anywhere; when the emergency comes, most of the crew members go
about their jobs calmly and efficiently, with minimal interaction. You
don't need to know any of it to finish the game.
The writing is good, but there are a lot of typos ("thier" is
particularly prevalent). A few input-related annoyances, mostly Adrift-
related; for instance, "look under/behind bed" gets Adriftified to "look
Starship Volant: Stowaway is a pleasant enough way to spend an hour or
so, but don't expect anything more.
What is it about this game that I like so much? It's horribly buggy, easy
to put into an unwinnable state, and you have to spend a lot of time
searching all the piles of stuff that come your way.
And yet I had a lot of fun playing it.
You and a group of activists were trudging through the desert to stage a
protest against a nuclear power plant. But you get separated from the
rest of the group and find yourself in an ancient petting zoo inhabited
only by a tortoise and a camel of particularly evil aspect. After the
camel bites you, you (and your friend Darcy) end up in hospital and under
arrest for your protest activities. But there's something odd going on...
The first thing you notice about this game is its delightfully sprightful
prose. Your character is immediately established as a very determined
young lady with a decided attitude; a leader, someone who gets things
The second thing you notice is the bugs. And they are many. During my
first playthrough, Darcy somehow changed from her handcuffed-to-the-bed
state to her following-me-around state before I'd even found the handcuff
key. I was supposed to be transported from one room to another before I
performed a certain action; it printed the movement text but still
allowed me to travel from the original room into a neighbouring room.
Before a certain puzzle is solved, trying to take off my hospital gown
results in the mystifying statement, "The nurse has it." Huh? The nurse
doesn't have it, I have it. I'm *wearing* it. That's why I'm trying to
take it off. Later I began to solve a puzzle too early and realised I had
(probably, but there may have been an alternative solution I didn't find)
put the game in an unwinnable state.
But it was fun all the same. One of the most enjoyable things about the
game was the number of endings, both good and bad. From memory, I died
twice and found two good-but-not-optimal endings before I made it to the
best ending. And I've a suspicion there are still more endings to be
found. Interestingly, each non-optimal ending had its own puzzle or two;
puzzles that you would not have to or would not even be able to solve to
get to the optimal ending.
The puzzles were very satisfying too. They are exceptionally well-clued,
and give great "Aha!" moments when you come up with the right action. And
Darcy isn't just window-dressing; you'll need her help to solve some of
The NPCs, unfortunately, have very little to say for themselves. But the
author says that was due to time constraints, and should be addressed in
a post-comp release.
I think I have to say this is my favourite game of the competition,
though Fate gave it a close run for its money. If only it had been better
beta-tested, there would have been no question. As it is, I'm looking
forward to the post-comp release!
[I meant to give it a 7, but giving two 6's and two 7's seemed too dull
for words. And I had a feeling CamelGirl! would lose anyway, so I gave it
a little boost.]
You're an eyeball.
You're also the King, and expected to rule the kingdom despite your
currently disabled condition.
That's the premise of The Reluctant Resurrectee, and while it's a well-
written and humorous story, the implementation leaves something to be
As an eyeball, most normal actions are closed to you. You can't TAKE
things, you can't PUSH or PULL them, and so on. You'd think this could
lead to some interesting puzzles, but there are no great "Aha!" moments
here. There are a few verbs you can use, not hard to figure out, and most
of the game can be solved by trying these on every noun mentioned in
every room description. Not that the puzzles are really bad; they're
Not all the verbs you'd expect to be implemented are implemented, making
an otherwise nice puzzle extremely irritating. And once something I
expected (judging from the room description) to be one object was
actually implemented as two, making it easy to miss an important clue.
It's very easy to lock yourself out of victory. It would have been a lot
easier if it were not for a bug which allowed me to pass from the desk to
the mantel and back again as often as I pleased. These kinds of
limitations wouldn't be such a problem in a better-clued game, but are
terribly inconvenient in The Reluctant Resurrectee.
Still, it's not all bad. The writing is good (apart from typos such as
"mantle"): not laugh-out-loud funny, but smile-funny. There is a tendency
toward text-dumping, especially at the end of the game, but the text-
dumps are worth reading so I'm not complaining too much.
This could be a fun game. But at the moment, it needs a lot of work.