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How it all Started Reviews
Author: Kevin Treadway
How It All Started - By Kevin Treadway
*** As featured in Reviews Exchange Issue 4 ***
Games by newcomers always hold a special kind of feeling for me: itís halfway been delight (at seeing a game by a newcomer) and dread (at seeing a game by a newcomer). Sometimes newcomers write great games Ė The PK Girl and Unraveling God to name but two Ė but all too frequently it goes horribly wrong (Death Agency anyone?) Itís even rarer to get a newcomer willing to submit his first game to an ADRIFT comp, considering that games entered in comps tend to receive so much more feedback, mainly negative, than any other games. But the writer of How It All Started obviously decided he was going to take a risk.
SoÖ how is the game?
Surprisingly itís quite good.
So How Did It All Start?
With a goblin, apparently, and a room. So the game amusingly informs you at the very start. You start off in a generic fantasy dungeon, locked in there by a goblin called Nurgle. You have no weapons and you're without any possessions aside from a stick. No way out? Actually there's quite a good puzzle here which starts the game off well. (On the downside, the most obvious command of them all Ė ďkill NurgleĒ Ė isn't covered.)
Unfortunately, itís now been a year and a half since How It All Started came out and as no subsequent games have been released, I think itís a safe bet to assume that one was all Kevin Treadway had in him. A pity. While there are rough edges in How It All Started, itís an accomplished game for a newcomer and boded well for any future releases.
Though accomplished for a game by a newcomer, How It All Started has several annoying problems. The Grotto location features a waterwheel and a shack yet the shack canít be entered. Also in the Grotto is a gate featuring a metal panel with a slot in it. Only one item can be inserted in the slot but attempting to insert the wrong items proves an unhelpful error message stating that nothing can be put in the slot. While no big deal, it was still annoying as by the time I found the one item I needed I had tried every other item in the game and been hit with the error message every time. Some kind of better response would have been nice: ďYou canít put the sword in the slot. Itís too wide.Ē would have worked well. There's also a pole here as well but thatís apparently nothing very special as it doesnít even warrant a description.
Another location features a pool of water yet trying to enter the pool or swim in it doesnít produce any proper response. Is the pool just an illusion then?
Many of the problems with the game are most likely down to the fact that the writer was a newcomer and didnít know to cover some of the responses. A rewritten and revised version could easily fix the majority of these problems.
Short But Sweet
How It All Started isn't a very long game and aside from a few annoying guess the verb problems and non-obvious commands, it shouldnít take you very long to get to the end of it. The end hints that it might well be a kind of prequel to a larger work but as no subsequent games have been forthcoming, maybe thatís not the case after all. A pity. While itís got its fair share of rough edges, itís a decent enough game and itís a shame the author never went ahead and wrote anything else.
5 out of 10
Reviewed by David Whyld
Reviewed for InsideAdrift End Of Year Comp 2003
ORIGINALITY: 6 PLAYABILITY: 7 MECHANICS: 4 -
down from an original score of 8 due to the problems listed below ENTERTAINMENT
Comments: This had good points and bad points. On the good side of things, it was very well written (I especially liked the jokey style of writing that was evident throughout) and had a few interesting puzzles. The difficulty was set reasonably low, allowing the player to progress quite a way through without running into problems. On the down side, there were quite a few commands that aren't very obvious and would never have occurred to me if I hadn't read the walkthru: entering the grotto (at a time when I thought I *was* in the grotto); entering the basket but not being able to climb into it; and a particularly bad bug right at the end that rendered the game unfinishable ("flip switch" as detailed in the walkthru didn't work). Even entering the commands as detailed in the walkthru didn't allow me to finish the game. A pity because aside from these annoying aspects, this was a pretty decent game.
Total: 24 out of 40
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