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Lauren's Awakening Reviews
Reviewed by David Whyld
This was an entry in the Christopher Cole/A. Bomire Competition (called with inspiration Christopher Cole and A. Bomire's Competition). As it's a competition game, I was hoping for a better than usual AIF game. More tested, less filled with guess the verb issues, fewer bugs… and I was disappointed.
Lauren's Awakening, being an adult game, is as sparse on storyline as you might expect. Basically, you're a 17 year old girl called Lauren who has just moved to a new town, are a bit shy and… that's about it.
It's probably not worth mentioning the usual flaws that seem to bog down 90% of the AIF (adult interactive fiction) games that I've played but I'll mention them anyway in the vague hope that the author reads this review and takes heed and does something about them in his next game. His game? Well, TotalDirt could be a woman, I guess, but as this is a game about a 17 year old girl having lots and lots of sex, it's a fair bet the author is of the male variety.
The flaws? Numerous in the first location alone. A stereo that can't be turned on or used or even listened to. Very basic descriptions for the majority of items. The second location features a shower whose description reads "You see no such thing". By the evidence on show so far, you can tell the game went through some seriously thorough testing. The closet features an item called "Lauren's clothes". As I'm Lauren, shouldn't that me "my clothes" or "your clothes"? What else? Oh yes, an exit that only appears after you've got your clothes on but is mysteriously invisible beforehand.
So far, not too bad. About what I expected from the opening of an AIF game. Better written than usual as well so maybe this one, aside from the bugs I'd already encountered, wouldn't be too bad after all.
Unfortunately, the bugs in question are pretty much game killers.
I wasn't able to leave the location "Kat's back yard" when I first arrived despite being told there were exits to the east, west and south. The western exit didn't seem to exist at all. I wasn't able to go east because "you've got work to do!" What work? I'm at a party, for crying out loud. South produces the same wonderful response as trying to go west. Funnily enough, it also tells me I can go in but the game apparently disagrees because it won't let me.
Several minutes of beating my head against the nearest wall resulted in a brain wave where I managed to figure out that I had to type "go east" and "go west" to move around. The previous comment about the level of testing on this game was, believe it or not, meant in jest.
Once past the hideous directions bug, I wandered around and met a few of the one dimensional characters that tend to populate a lot of AIF games I've played. I found a couple of boys under a tree - Chris and Robbie - who are either gay, or I'm playing a remarkably ugly girl, because when I tried to kiss them I was told they wouldn't appreciate it. Hmmm… talk about rejection. No wonder Lauren's so damn shy. Funnily enough, when I tried to "**** [either of them]", the game told me off for swearing. Of all the commands I might have expected to be covered in an AIF game, that was top of the list.
Conversation with any of the characters is a painful game of "guess the conversation subject" as the easier "talk to [name]" system isn't used. Another point off the game. While "ask [name] about [subject]" can work, it's a far harder system to use properly than "talk to [name]", and a lot less fun to use from a player's point of view. Maybe it doesn't bother anyone else, but when I've tried ten different conversation topics with someone and not got a decent response to any of them, my enthusiasm just really starts to wane. As it happened, I got a few responses from Chris which confirmed my suspicion that the men in AIF games are every bit as intellectually challenged as the women.
In another location, I ran into a bug when trying to get into a wrestling ring. The game wouldn't let me and kept telling me I wasn't really dressed for wrestling. As I didn't have a wrestling outfit with me, and didn't have a clue where to get one from, I had to get in the ring by typing "go in" (the flaw in the directions bug actually helped me out here). Then I engaged in a bout of wrestling, which was probably the best part of this game. In fact, the only part I liked. I won't say the combat system used was particularly inspiring but it certainly did the job, although see that Ashley had 200 HP and I had 1 HP was kind of depressing. A bug? Or am I just remarkably puny as well as being shy?
A funny thing happened after the wrestling match (which I lost) and the obligatory sex scene. The game moved me to outside the wrestling ring, I and Ashley had sex (the shyness part of Lauren's character apparently doesn't extend as far as not having sex with another girl at a party in front of dozens of strangers) and then everything went to pot. The game moved me outside the ring but kept Ashley inside. Hmmm…
And there I became stuck. The hints were every bit as bad as I might have expected. The action they advised me to perform didn't work so I was left outside the ring without a clue what to do next. As my shoulders were pretty much bowed down with errors and guess the verb by this time, I decided it was probably for the best and put the game out of its misery once and for all.
3 out of 10 (was going to be 2 but I added 1 because the wrestling was kind of fun)
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