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Ghost Justice Reviews
Author: Purple Dragon
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 David Whyld
The introduction to this game almost stopped me playing. 'This is a sequel to my first adventure entitled Ghost Story' it informs me and 'If you have not yet played that game then you really should because this one won't make as much sense if you don't.' Well, I hadn't played Ghost Story because until five seconds before I hadn't even been aware it existed. Fortunately if you type the name of the previous game, you get a brief summary of its storyline so you can at least enjoy this one. All well and good. I decided to give it a go after all.
And I'm pleased I did because there's a pretty good game here.
It starts with the player arriving home following the incidents of the first game. It's 3AM and you have to decide just what you're going to do. My first thought was to phone the police and report to them what I had discovered but I was told it was too late (apparently the police don't work throughout the night as I had always thought). Instead I took a wander around my apartment. It's not a big place - four rooms in total - but there's quite a bit to do. My DVD collection - containing such classics as Debbie Does Dallas and Alice In Wonderland - was a nice touch, although when trying to watch The Breakfast Club I was required to type the entire name in, including "The" at the start before anything would work. The same with "The Bridge On The River Kwai".
One thing I became aware of after a quick circuit of my apartment was that it lacked, of all things, a door. Yep, no door. I had entered the apartment at the start of the game but either I had come down the chimney (as with Santa) or walked through the wall or, maybe, the door is one of those clever things that disappears when you're not using it. A bit baffled by this, I went from room to room searching for a door. All to no avail. A door I never did find, although later in the game I was able to leave the apartment so wherever it was hiding, the pesky door eventually showed up.
Making progress to begin with seems like an easy thing to do. The game prompts me at the start that it's late and I need to sleep so I head to the bedroom and do that. I awake to find my girlfriend giving me oral sex (a thing that happens all too infrequently in real life). Here the problems start. The README file which comes with the game - usually a good idea but not this time - advises me that the first thing I do when meeting an NPC is speak to them in the format "talk to [name]". I try this. No such luck. I try a few more variations "speak to…" and "ask…" but get nothing out of it. In despair, I read through the rest of the README (which I'm aware I should have done beforehand but I didn't bother with until now). No such luck again. In the end, I decide that as this is an adult game, maybe a bit of sex is in order. Wa-hey! Success! Me and Amy (the aforementioned girlfriend) have sex.
Afterwards I get dressed and leave the apartment. Or try to, only the damn door is still hiding somewhere. I have to admit, I came pretty close to quitting at this point because there seemed to be no way of getting out of the apartment. But I persevered. Amy was still in the bedroom so I tried having sex with her again. And got the exact same response as I had before. Groan. The writer looks to have ticked the check box on repeatable tasks and not changed anything here so I can keep typing in the relevant commands and have sex with Amy all day if I want to. In a real life situation, I'd have been fine with this but right now I kind of want to progress on with the game.
It seems the README was again at fault here. It advises me that the game uses the most simple and straightforward commands - if you come to a door, you can open it with "use key" (actually I would have thought "open door" would have been the most simple and straightforward command but maybe I'm just picky). There's none of this nonsense, the README goes on, with putting the key in the lock or turning the key, etc, etc. So I figured that as far as having sex with Amy went, it would just be a case of me typing out the requisite command until she orgasmed and I could get on with the game. Not so. As it happens, I had to play guess the verb quite a bit before I hit upon the series of five different commands required to finally satisfy Amy and get the game to move on a little. The main problem is that I had already had sex with Amy and so there was really no reason to assume I would have to have sex with her again before I could leave my apartment. There was certainly nothing to indicate I would have to type in five separate commands to sort her out.
Fortunately that was the hardest part of the game and things progressed in a fairly straightforward manner after that. I moved from my apartment (the door, finally, had stopped being an awkward bugger and put in an appearance), went to the police station and spoke to some helpful chap there. I noticed a bug in the room description in that every time you type "look" - as I did frequently to see what was there and what else I still needed to examine - you get a spiel about entering the room. This happens after you've already entered it. No big problem but it was a little jarring to read the same thing over and over again.
There are no real puzzles to solve at the police station. You just question the helpful chap you find there who sends you on to the next location - the house of Susan Cooper, the sister of the murdered woman from the first game. Things are even more straightforward here. Speak to her and the game moves on easily to the next part, a sleazy pub called The Rusty Nail.
It was at this point that I began to wonder if I was missing something. Don't get me wrong, the game was very good and I was enjoying playing it but after the nightmarish problems with getting out of my apartment I had expected the rest of the game to be equally as difficult. But it turned out to be a fairly easy game from that point onwards. Had the writer set out to write a harder game but lost sight of his original goal somewhere along the way or, more likely, had he overestimated how difficult to complete the first part was?
For the most part, Ghost Justice is one of the better AIF games. The emphasis is more on solving puzzles and finding the murderer of Sarah Cooper than prolonged sex scenes and I felt it benefited from this. The sex scenes themselves are well written but I found myself quickly scanning through the text whenever they popped up on screen and hoping to get back to the storyline proper. But maybe that's just me.
There were a few nice touches scattered throughout the game. The poker game you play is interesting, although I might have enjoyed it more if I played poker. Fortunately the rules are explained and your choices are listed on screen so even if, like me, you don't have a clue how to play the game, you should still be able to pull through.
Another impressive aspect, and one you find overlooked all too often in many games, was the realistic feel of the game. Susan Cooper's house has a fair number of rooms and they're all properly implemented with the full quota of examinable items. The same goes for Stewart Brown's house. Most times, you tend to find that AIF games concentrate solely on the sex scenes and that anything not directly related to a sex scene (the scenery) gets overlooked. Here, thankfully, the scenery is described in pleasing detail and Ghost Justice is a far better game for it. Sometimes the attention to the small details is what sorts the great games from the decidedly average ones.
Only a couple of things in the game struck me as farfetched. The first was how quickly your character changes from a mild-mannered chap to someone quite content to kill two other people in cold blood; hey, you can even torture one of them before you die if you're so minded. The second was how the helpful police officer will actually give you a gun to help you carry out the deed! Would this really happen? I can't help but think not.
Aside from a few questionable moments in Stewart Brown's house - torturing his wife - and the dominatrix Bambi, the game steers clear of the more seedier side of AIF.
At first I was told I wasn't able to call the police because it was too late. However, after sleeping and awaking the next morning the same problem still applied. In fact, it wasn't until after I'd had sex with Amy and had a shower with her, that I was able to call the police.
The aforementioned problem with the apartment lacking a door was a particularly bad one. Even if the player can't leave the apartment until after he's spoken to the police, the door should still be there.
I seem to have an endless supply of urine as I'm able to use the toilet countless times. I can also have as many showers as I like and, what's even better, my clothes don't even get wet!
There's another clothes issue with Amy. I'm not able to have sex with her, the game helpfully informs me, because I'm still clothed, yet when I awoke Amy was giving me oral sex. Unless she's discovered some new way of doing this that bypasses the jeans I'm wearing, there's a definite bug there.
Several items are not implemented and should be. The towel rack in the bathroom can't be examined and the towels can't be taken. Funnily enough, when I tried to examine the rack I was told I couldn't see the rack from here even though I was standing right in front of it! For a guess, the only rack implemented in the game was the CD/DVD rack in the first location and the game assumed it was that rack I was trying to get a look at!
The overly-endowed prostitute Bambi told me I needed to fetch her some rope. I searched my entire apartment for it with no luck. I then headed to Susan's house and The Rusty Nail and the police station - all the locations I had discovered up to that point in the game - and searched them all. I never found rope in any of them. With no real idea of what to do at this point, I headed back to my apartment and decided to type "give rope to bambi" on the off chance the writer had forgotten to put in a restriction to stop this happening if you're not carrying the rope. Lo and behold! He did! I handed over the rope I wasn't even aware I was carrying to Bambi and the game moved on. Of course, it's possible the rope was somewhere in my bedroom or part of another item I was carrying but I don't ever recall seeing it mentioned anywhere.
I left Stewart Brown's house at one point and returned to my own to find a message from Susan on the answerphone saying she had something to tell me. However when I went over to her house she wouldn't speak to me and I was hit with the default message in these circumstances. For a guess, this message wasn't supposed to show up until after you kill Stewart but as you can visit his house and leave without killing him, it shows up anyway.
All in all, a fairly solid game. The beginning had me baffled in that I lived in an apartment without a door but while this was annoying, it didn't stop me finishing the game (I think I did the entire thing in just under two hours). Lack of hints is never a good idea in a game and the occasional clue from time to time would have been a godsend. A couple of times - being unable to leave the apartment or find the rope for Bambi - had me very close to quitting. But thankfully I didn't quit.
I got an overall score of 63 out of 100 which indicates I missed out around a third of the points required. A few I can guess at - I didn't do particularly well in the poker game and probably lost some there - but I'd be curious to know just where the others lie.
7 out of 10
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