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Ring of Power Reviews

Author: Tina B
Date: 2004
RAGS


What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction. If you likely to be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not
to open these files.


Reviewed by A. Ninny

Basic Plot
You play a typical bachelor who embarks on a very odd and disjointed series of encounters that end when you obtain the Ring of Power, a magical ring that supposedly gives its wearer hypnotic control over other people.

Overall Thoughts
As this is the first AIF game to make use of the RAGS system, I feel it is necessary to co-review the game along with RAGS as a player interface. A. Bomire wrote a fairly extensive review of RAGS as an authoring system last month, but this is the first time anyone has reviewed a RAGS  game here, so I thought I’d provide my thoughts on that as well.

Tina B does mention that this is just a test game, so a reading of my discussion of the game’s quality should take that into account.

RAGS has potential. Clearly, the things that Tina B was able to put into this game hints at the possibilities, though it does not actually exploring them very deeply. This game does not have an interactive sex scene, but I saw no reason why one couldn’t be created. I did not have a philosophical problem with the point-click interface. The biggest benefit I saw was speed – it is possible to play this game in a couple of minutes. I liked that I had no issues with making typos while issuing commands. The biggest drawback simply is that you always know exactly what the extent of your available commands are. This makes the game feel constricted. With ‘normal’ IF,
you always feel like a game may be replayable if you can think of another command to attempt. There is no matching sense with RAGS. Perhaps the author can hide images or interactive options behind an odd series of command combinations?

I do not know whether to blame RAGS or Tina B, but I really felt like there were always too few options offered at any given time in Ring of Power. While in one sense this is refreshing (no verb-guessing!), had this game been made in a ‘real’ IF language, I think I would have been guessing at verbs in Ring of Power almost constantly. That is because precious few objects had more than basic commands associated with them, most room objects couldn’t be examined or manipulated, and NPC’s had no body parts or clothes that could be examined. I think with a menu-based system like RAGS, you need to make extra effort to make your game interactively robust. Ring of Power doesn’t even try.

Puzzles/Gameplay
While not wanting to take a test game to task too much, it is at least worth pointing out that the puzzles in Ring of Power really make no sense whatsoever. There is never sufficient motivation or information leading to following a particular path. I think it is useful to give a player an inkling of what a particular item might be used for before you present him with it, especially if the player is forced to spend what limited money he has on it. Furthermore, the money system as it is designed makes it highly likely that you will maneuver yourself into a situation from which you can go no further, simply because your money ran out and you have no way to get more. As a result, once you realize why you may need, say, a depilation cream, it may be that you have no opportunity to get enough money to buy one, and you’ll have no choice but to start over.

Sex:
There are no interactive sex scenes in the game. Instead, there are a couple of very very short sex cut-scenes and a series of photos of nearly naked women. I don’t feel like the pictures replace written sex, and they aren’t very interesting photos anyway.

Technical:
In addition to the previously mentioned problem with running out of money, there are numerous bugs and oddities in the game. A number of these simply pertain to the images accompanying the text. I would have expected the written descriptions to match the images, but they rarely did. Also, there were other sorts of bugs: instances when messages should have changed to reflect an action I had completed, but did not; money amounts that were allowed to go negative (when tipping a stripper); and a restriction that I only am allowed to change clothes in one location (not even in my own bedroom) even though I can strip of my own clothes anywhere.

Finally, a couple of gripes about RAGS: It needs an ‘undo’ feature. And when I tried to save and restore, RAGS did not remember how much money I had before the save, so I had to start over anyway.

Final Thoughts:
The general recommendation authors receive about test games is to keep them on their hard drives. This one was released, which was probably a mistake. I will say that it does well to show off the ability of the author to invent an odd, creative story. It has quite a few elements that are quite inventive and promising. Overall, however, I see a definite need for cleaner, more robust implementation and more detailed, consistent storytelling.

Rating: D
 


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