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Jack of Shadows
Author: Arnold "ACE" Rimmer
Reviewed by David Whyld (Reviews
There were some terrible guess the verb issues and non-obvious commands at work here. The player is expected to pick open the lock of a cage (despite the fact that no lock is ever mentioned) with a bar he uncovers (even though a description of the bar doesn't give any indication it could be used to pick anything open – and for that matter, why would someone try to pick open a locked cage with a bar anyway?) Worse still, at the very end of the game (reached only after looking in the Generator for most of the commands I'm sorry to say), the player is expected to carry out a couple of commands that I'm sure no one would ever consider doing. If that wasn't bad enough, "x" and "search" yield different results. By the time I discovered this (by peeking at the walkthrough), I'd already been through every location and "x" everything, so having to go back around and "search" everything was pretty frustrating. If these two commands, which generally mean the same thing, mean something different here then it might be a good idea to say so at the start of the game. Oh, and why oh why would the player put the jewel inside his cloak before entering the shadows to be teleported away? Then again, why would the player know that entering the shadows would teleport him anyway? Unless you're either psychic or the author, or probably both, this is one game you're going to struggle with.
There were a few other things that gave the impression of either a game rushed through or just one suffering from Newbie Syndrome (i.e. not covering the kind of things that anyone with a bit more experience of writing text adventures would pick up on). Your cloak is described as having a pocket in the lining yet I was never able to examine it or look inside it or put anything inside it. Does it have a purpose or was it just included and then forgotten about?
On the plus side, the writing it at least reasonably accomplished, although at times it comes across as a poor man's take on Star Wars what with "Dayside" and "Darkside" and some chap called "The Colonel Who Never Died". Items mentioned in the room descriptions can be examined for the most part, although there are a few locations (most notably the humming chamber and the blocked passage) where very little seems to have been covered. A rushed game or more Newbie Syndrome? I wasn't sure. Maybe a bit of both.
Overall, Jack Of Shadows is a fairly average game let down by some terrible guess the verb issues. If you're playing this with the walkthrough by the side of you, you'll be fine. Otherwise, you're going to have a struggle on your hands.
3 out of 10
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