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in Highwater Reviews
Author: J. Arthur
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. Bomire (Inside Erin: The AIF Community Newsletter Volume 6 Number 1 - January 2010)
You play the role of Caradoc, a gambler who has gambled away his soul to the demon Vrix and now is on a quest to win it back. The quest takes you all through the city of Highwater and along the river that winds
through it, meeting all sorts of people from simple barmen to priests and even vampires, not to mention the demon who starts it all. The quest is long and hard, and filled with puzzles and adventures.
This game plays much more like a traditional IF game than your typical "See girl, screw girl" AIF game. Yes, there is sex in this game, but there is a much greater concentration on the story of Caradoc and his
quest to save his soul. And it is a good story too, as evidenced by the fact that the game won a 2004 AIF Award ("Erin") for "Best Story". The characters you meet are all interesting, and the dialogue is written
with just the right amount of humor. And, there are multiple endings to the game, allowing for good replay value.
I have read many posts from players saying that they steer clear of traditional IF because they just don't like puzzles for puzzles sake. In that case, let me warn you: this game is all about the puzzles. There are timed
puzzles, where the player has a set number of turns to solve a specific problem. There are "treasure hunt" puzzles where the player has to find an item (or group of items) and get them to a person or place. There
are logic puzzles where the player has to figure out what items are necessary and use or combine them to solve a problem. And the items and objects are scattered around so that, for example, the bucket of water
you find here is actually used way over there. Fortunately, J. Arthur allows the player to travel back and forth (or, I should say, up and down in the case of the river) to both collect and transport objects. But, and
here is where it gets tricky, the player isn't a one-man moving truck. He can only carry so much at one time, and that limit is much, much lower than the number of items to be found in the game. Fortunately, there is a
convenient place to dump all of your stuff so that it is more-or-less at hand when you need it.
Speaking of "way over there", this game is big. I mean really big. As you travel up and down the river, you come to new villages and locations, each with their own map. Most of them are small enough that each one
isn't that unwieldy, but put them all together and you have a very big map. Players may want to take the time to draw it out.
This game has sex in it (obviously, or it wouldn't be reviewed here!), but as I mentioned in the last section it is really about the puzzles. The sex is good, don't get me wrong, and J. Arthur does a good job of creating
individual women who aren't just interchangeable sex toys. But the sex is more lukewarm than hot. Oh, there are some decent scenes, but overall this game isn't going to (and didn't) win any awards for the sex
Overall the game appears technically sound. There were a few typos and grammatical errors, which in some cases may have just been the author's way of representing a character's particular speech pattern. I
only noticed one odd effect when asking a character to strip during a sex scene. She did, but there was no description of it. It didn't have any ultimate effect upon game play, but it still was a bug. In a game of this
size, with this many characters and interactions, that is practically "bug free"!
This game is a somewhat of a sleeper in the AIF community, perhaps because it plays so much more like an IF game than a typical AIF game. However, it was nominated for seven 2004 AIF Awards, including: Best
PC, Best NPC, Best Story, Best Atmosphere and Best Puzzles. Despite this, you hardly ever hear anything about it. I'll admit, the number of puzzles in the game, and the not-quite-steamy sex scenes may discourage
some players from taking a look at this game. If so, then you are missing something. It is really well written with a terrific story filled with memorable characters. Get out there, grab a walkthrough, and give this game
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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