06 January 2012

Return to Camelot

Continuing where I left off on my letters to ADRIFT authors who entered last year's IFComp. Here's one to Finn Rosenloev, author of Return to Camelot. Some spoilery content may follow.

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It occurs to me that it is likely few of the other judges have played the original Camelot to which your recent IFComp entry, Return to Camelot, is a sequel. While I don't think knowledge of the previous game is necessary to complete or enjoy Return to Camelot, I wonder if I would be wrong in assuming that this previous knowledge makes me part of a select few-- the ideal audience for this game!

No doubt-- recalling how critical I was of Camelot-- you may think I have a laundry list of bad things to say about your latest game, but that's not quite so this time. I did find a lot of bugs, true, and some of the writing could use a brush-up (this has been discussed in other reviews-- I won't mention it since you've no doubt already heard it), but overall I was pleasantly surprised by Return to Camelot. I came away amused with your fun, light fantasy piece-- my enjoyment rated it a solid 3/5.

For one thing, I was glad to find there was no conflict in tone throughout this one aside from the opening fake-out. I was a little disappointed to find that the protagonist being a detective didn't play a larger role in the story, but didn't feel it actively detracted from the story. I would've liked to see more of Igor and Merlin and to have done more investigating. Was the shoulder holster an important item in a puzzle I missed?

I had some problems with ADRIFT 5, but I don't know how much control you had over these things and whether they should be classified as author or platform problems. It's interesting to be in this position for once, being so much less familiar with 5 than 4, especially since so many complaints about ADRIFT games derive from this very aspect. So here are two of the problems I ran into: “w” autocompletes to “wear” instead of “west” and the suit of armour was incredibly fiddly about how I referred to it... such that I had to get it by using a (puzzle-breaking?) >GET ALL. On a second test playthrough just recently, I'm told the knight in the room warns me away from it, but I end up with it in my inventory anyway. I also got this error message from time to time which said "Error evaluating PassSingleRestriction for restriction 'Player must be in same room as Any Character.' The given key was not present in the dictionary."

The castle layout is familiar from the last game, which made it easy for me to navigate, and even more pleasing to find little secrets throughout that we didn't get to see in the last one. One thing that was mysteriously missing which I thought could have been explained, though, was the door from the maid's room to Guinevere's... unless I just missed where that was explained, which is possible. From playing this game, I think that the presentation of the kitchen and courtyard are basically emblematic of each game in the Camelot series thus far-- the first had a brutal kitchen and the courtyard's most noticeable feature were its mean-spirited guards, but here we have a more cheerful kitchen and the setup for a circus in the courtyard.

Is the kitchen maid, perhaps, the first non-sexualized female character to be represented in one of your games? Seeing “her muscles through the thin woven blouse she's wearing” seems to toe the line of sexuality in the description, but in contrast to other females in your games this looks to be a step forward. On the other hand, it also reinforces the “sturdy” nature of peasantry under King Arthur, so it seems to be commenting on social conditions within the castle. They've have definitely improved since the use of slave labour in the original.

I never did find the Wizard's Nightclub, or make a sandwich, or get a rose for the maid, but I did manage to finish the game. I may have missed quite a bit of it. What do you think? Regardless, I might not have been able to finish within the time limit otherwise!

The major mechanic involving the ring and paintings was easy to pick up on, used enough throughout to make it into a pattern, and it pays off dramatically at the end of the game. There was one weird moment where I had to remove the ring and wear it again to get it to work. The final few puzzles especially reminded me of a wacky Errol Flynn adventure, which I think is the overall tone this game was going for.

If you're interested in discussing any other bugs I found, telling me where the Wizard's Nightclub is, or in talking about the game in any other way, please let me know.

Hope all is well,

1 comment:

  1. Are you going to post this against the adventure at http://www.adrift.co/cgi/adrift.cgi?page=adventure&advid=1290 ?