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The Sisters Reviews
Author: James Webb (as revgiblet)
Reviewed by David Whyld
NOTE: I was a tester for this game, a fact that complicated this review as I found when I’d written it that I’d commented on several things that were in the first version of the game but which had been removed or changed in the finished IFComp version. Thankfully, the removals/changes were largely positive so I shouldn’t grumble.)
“The Sisters” is a horror/mystery game which starts with the player running his car off the road after narrowly missing hitting a young girl. With the car too damaged to be driven any further, it’s up to you to make your way out of there and make sense of what has happened.
Leaving the car and exploring a bit, you find yourself in a wood. You’ve got a bleeding gash on your head but, as lucky chance would have it, a first aid box just so happens to be lying on the ground. What are the odds…? Good job it was there, too, otherwise you'd have been in a bit of a predicament due to bleeding to death from the gash.
There's an annoying bug while descending a steep decline. If you have a penknife with you with the blade open, you fall down the decline, land on the blade and die. Funnily enough, if you drop the penknife before trying to descend, you *still* land on the blade and die. Clever penknife. Why this puzzle was included in the game at all I don’t know. There's no way of knowing beforehand that trying to climb down the decline with the penknife open would result in you dying and no reason to assume you'd need to close the penknife at this stage (it can’t be used when it’s closed after all) so it’s a fair bet that you'll end up dying here before realising what you need to do.
The game uses ADRIFT’s built in end game sequence which doesn’t allow UNDO and instead makes you restart the game when you die so you have to reload from your previous saved game position. Definitely a point against it. Hopefully this will be fixed when the new version of ADRIFT comes out.
The majority of the game takes place in a large mansion which you stumble on after leaving the woods. This has the usual prerequisite of locked doors which you need to find keys for (what large mansion doesn’t?) as well as a number of other puzzles to figure out. Some I managed on my own, some I only got to with the aid of the walkthrough. Even the ones that stumped me – getting open the urn being one that springs to mind – were fairly obvious and I'm annoyed I didn’t solve them on my own.
There is an interesting twist at the end of the game which wasn’t quite what I had expected. As I explorer the mansion which makes up the bulk of the game’s locations, I found myself coming up with the theory that I was actually a ghost of some kind and that the girl I had seen was perhaps my ghostly daughter. As it happened, I was wrong and the ending quite surprised me. It also left me feeling slightly confused about certain things in the game. How much of what happened had *really* happened and how much was in the mind of the player? Actually, part of me felt that the twist in the ending where some things were explained was left interesting than the ghost story idea that had seemed to be the theme before then.
Overall, I found “The Sisters” to be one of the better ADRIFT games I've played recently and, despite a few rough edges (and deaths by penknife notwithstanding), well worth playing.
6 out of 10
Reviewed by Baryon
Seemed to be very good from what I saw, although some of the directions were not stated clearly, and some obvious actions were not implemented (like "ring doorbell" or "sit on chair"). One good thing that I noted down for this game was that there was no formal introduction - just the title at the top and then the game began. I think that's good for immersion.
The presence of the first aid box was a little too convenient; but other than this, the story seemed to be very well laid out.
Reviewed by Nick Bronson
Plot: 9/10 - An interesting plot that manages to enlighten by steps. Final twist was well executed.
Atmosphere: 8/10 - The aim of a spooky haunted house was very well done.
Writing: 8/10 - Description were good, grammer and spelling were good with no major problems.
Game play: 6/10 - Gameplay and puzzles were good, found one major bug however.
Characters: 6/10 - Well characterised an interesting with one exception.
Puzzles: 7/10 - Logical and not too difficult.
Overall: 8/10 - A great ifcomp game.
I seem to be picking up the attempted spooky games straight off the bat, which is interesting since it is not a genre I normally take for my own. The Sisters attempts to be a different sort of horror game however than Requiem. Whilst Requiem felt quite cthulic supernatural, The Sisters is scary dead girls running about a haunted house. Very Japanese horror and I’m going to blame games and movies like this if I end up a bad father. Little girls creep me out now.
The game starts with a car accident and you’re not long playing when you realise you’re trapped in a haunted house, and it appears one of the ghosts is responsible for your accident. Investigation of the house and solving the puzzles within feed you, piece by piece, the story of what happened to the current ghostly occupants and, in the end, why you have attracted their attention.
The ending is of a type seen in just about every creative writing class ever given since the dawn of time - with every author believing themselves the first to do it. Not since Agatha Christie wrote a first-person murder mystery where the narrator was also the villain has this sort of twist been original by any stretch of the word. It does work however, the ending is both satisfying and logically complete, and even the fact that there is only one possible ending doesn’t detract from the game or the story, in my opinion. This sort of ending is often used as a gimmick, and is often rightly shunned because of that, however I think in this case it is both valid and entertaining.
I did fine one bug that caused me to finish my first run through of the game early, without ever progressing outside to the lake. This was disappointing, since without the lake scene and retrieving the music box for the two children, the main theme (as written in the girl’s journal) of the game isn’t as powerful. “What you do in death, can’t make up for what you did in life.” Is both a clue to the nature of our character, his predicament, and the hopeless nature of the story - there is no way to make up for what the character did before we came along, thus, no way to avert the end that is coming. Lack of choice, or agency, can be just as compelling as full choice, when used for a proper narrative purpose as it is here.
The bug in question was that typing “S” or “South” in the kitchen, enabled me to walk straight through the locked metal doors without opening them. Normally you would have to get the music box from the lake, and bring it back into the house for the ghost children. The story is far more powerful for the addition of this small part.
On the whole, a remarkable story-based game, with a few simple, logically local puzzles. Definately the standard I will be holding the other games I review up against this year.
Blurb: 'The Sisters' is a haunted house game written with ADRIFT. It's my first ever entry and one of my first efforts, so go easy on me.
Because the author of this game has requested that players go easy on him, this review will contain only positive comments.
I like the description “Trees and assorted foliage. You don’t know the proper names. You are no nature expert.” It reminds me of Nice Pete in Achewood, which apparently means it’s like Faulkner. Green on black text makes ADRIFT games much eerier than INFORM or especially TADS games. The location of the game is creepy, the way it’s gradually revealed works well, and the puzzles are fair and fun. The story is cool and, for the most part, it comes together in a coherent way. 6
Reviewed by James Hall
I'm take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to horror, but I thought I'd
give this one a go first. The game starts off with you, a driver of unknown origin, writing off your car after a kid runs out in front of
you on a quiet country road. You get out and search for the kid, but all you find are her footprints leading into the woods and from there,
into an old, dilapidated mansion. There are a couple of irritating things right from the start- first of all, the death clock (you're
bleeding when you get out of the car); getting me killed early on before I've made a fair bit of progress is a good way of getting me
to quit. Secondly, there was an instance where it was possible to die by going down a slope without closing your pen knife - the
consequences of this action were hinted at, but crudely: "something suggests you ought to check your inventory before you go down here",
and it was made worse by the fact that there's a bug in it (if your pen knife is open and you try to go down the slope, you die, even if
you're not carrying it). Next thing you know, you've passed out from your injuries and you
wake up to find yourself locked in the aforementioned mansion, which you now need to escape from - after learning it's haunted.
Unfortunately, the map's been disabled (which doesn't help when you're exploring a large place), so navigating it can be a bit
annoying. There are a few punctuation errors here and there, as well as numerous guess-the-verb problems, but the writing was good enough to
carry the story and all of the scenery that needed to be implemented, was. The game as a whole had a convincingly spooky atmosphere, although
it would have been better if I'd been exploring the mansion during the nighttime rather than the early morning- light shining through the
windows did tend to ruin the mood somewhat.
The ending was a bit of a disappointment too- firstly, it turns out the main character is a murderer, which, apart from being a bit of a cliché, wasn't very well hinted at, other than the old man's ghost telling me that the two of us were the same, which wasn't really enough of a hint (maybe I'd missed some vital clues or something, but I didn't feel the urge to go back and check). Secondly, according to the ending, the victim's body had been in the boot of my car all along, which I'd actually tried to open at the beginning of the game, only it hadn't been implemented (cop-out).
Overall, The Sisters wasn't too bad, certainly better than most, but it didn't really appeal to me.
Reviewed by Joshua Houk
I really don't know how this didn't get a "1"
Hmm, lot of car crashes this year. A few minor things: Needed walkthrough at beginning since "down" didn't work (needed to "follow
footprints") and "put wire in lock" told me the wire was too thick, until after I'd put the newspaper under the door. A bit cliche at the
beginning, but the story got interesting, and I quite liked it despite a few implementation issues. Pretty creepy; I pretty much figured it
out before the end. Examining everything got a bit tiresome; some more puzzles might actually have helped break this up. I encountered one
significant bug: I could get into the cellar before I found the key, which led to a somewhat confusing (premature) ending. At the end, I
wasn't sure if the initial "fix the wound or die" was out place with the rest of the story, but it did help to set up the player.
Tum-te-tum. Another one where the beginning probably tells me all I really need to know to judge it. This seems to be proving itself true. Also, telling me repeatedly how spooky your game is does not make it any spookier. But the twist at the end wasn't bad.
From the department of random observations: Campbell Wild certainly knows his compression algorithms. There is an amazing amount of game packed into this 46KB file.
As fate would have it, I played this one on Halloween. It genuinely creeped me out in a way that no game has in a long, long time, and I don't think it was just due to the holiday atmosphere. The initial premise is cliched as all get out. I am a motorist who spots a spectral girl on the roadway in front of me on a dark and rainy night. Swerving to avoid her, I wreck my car, and have no choice but to make my way to a gloomy mansion in search of aid. The author builds a much more complex and interesting story from that simple premise, however. As I've mentioned earlier, I'm not always a big fan of gotchas! at the end of games, but in this case it works perfectly, fitting so neatly in retrospect with everything that has come before.
I actually wasn't too impressed by this initially. The early stages require one to solve a linear chain of very simple puzzles to find one's way to the mansion where the bulk of the game takes place. I tend to get annoyed pretty quickly with this type of "jump through a linear series of hoops" game design, but then I made it to the mansion. Once there, the game opens and allows its player to wander and explore freely. Everything is implemented in impressive depth, at least as much as is possible within the limitations of ADRIFT. I spent most of my time wandering about compulsively examining everything, while various creepy visitations steadily ratcheted up my sense of dread. When the climax finally comes, it is masterfully done.
In the end, then, this one is all about the atmosphere. Such an achievement is not easy in either IF or static fiction. It really requires an excellent writer to pull off. Luckily, "revgiblet," whoever he or she is, has the chops to do just that. Oh, there is perhaps a bit of overwriting here and there, but that's almost par for the course with a plot like this one.
The puzzles here are generally quite simple. None gave me any real pause at all, but I wouldn't really want it any other way. Brainteasers just aren't what this one is about. There is an egregious repeat of the hoary old "push the newspaper under the door then push the key out of the keyhole" puzzle, but even this didn't really bother me beyond a knowing smile and a raised eyebrow. The game telling me it is hip to the puzzle's unoriginality by mentioning the "old adventure games" I used to play didn't really thrill me, though. Metatextual comments like this only destroy some of the atmosphere the author has done such a good job of building. Luckily, there are very few similar offenses.
Two Sisters is a very simple game really. It doesn't innovate in any way. It isn't technically impressive in the least. It involves no character interaction whatsoever, being at its heart no more than a variation on the tried and true explore a deserted house theme. Yet it works so well within its limitations that I was left deeply impressed. I enjoyed this game more than all but a few I have played so far. It even managed to move me emotionally. That should be worth something, don't you think? I do. I think it's worth a very, very good score.
Score: 9 out of 10.
Reviewed by Michael Martin
This is listed as a first game, and it's really better than I'd expect for a first game. The author's instincts for a story are pretty good, and I didn't run into any implementation glitches.
There were, however, a few things that weren't terribly well-clued, so I did end up hitting the walkthrough fairly early on. While doing one of these things the PC's interior monologue had him wondering why exactly he was taking the (necessary for victory) actions he was. If you catch yourself writing this, your instincts are trying to tell you something!
They're probably also trying to tell you something when the PC draws upon his experience playing IF -- though in that case it's mainly that the puzzle being used is kind of hackneyed. (Also fiddly, so full points for coding the thing up right, but it wasn't really any fun...)
But yes, all this aside, this was a perfectly competent first work, even if I wasn't terribly enthralled with it.
Nice prologue: direct, immediate, immersive.
Feels like a ghost story…
Actually, it feels like a bad horror movie, complete with an inability to do anything but incredibly stupid moves. I mean, driveways usually go from a house to a road; following the driveway away from the house should take me back to civilization. Forcing me into a house by eliminating all other directions is a clumsy hack.
This game seems to be following the scoring model of giving points for discovering details about the plot, rather than giving points for moving the plot forward. The last ten points I have received have been for incidental actions; actions that I did not need to perform to finish the game, but enhanced the plot. (This is the hallmark of stories that are linear and light on puzzles.) Games where you can win without reaching maximum score annoy me to no end (LLP games included). One could argue that a need for a reasonable scoring system is subsumed by point 17 of the Players’ Bill of Rights, but even that avoids commitment to the issue.
Ah, first hunt-the-verb puzzle: Drop over versus throw over.
The walkthrough deviates from reality in the Master Bedroom: it refers to a drawer that isn’t there.
Nice ending, not completely unexpected, but well-written. (Actually, for a long time I thought the player character was the missing girl suffering from amnesia.) The writing was stiff in places, but overall it set the proper mood, especially near the end. The most significant problem is that there were only two major puzzles that needed to be solved to reach the ending (get out of the bedroom; get into the cellar), and that a lot of the puzzles (as I verified by checking the walkthrough) only revealed supplementary information on solving. The mousetrap, for instance, I thought was a red herring — it turned out to be a major puzzle that I accidentally ignored.
This fell too much into the cut-scene interspersed with brief gameplay for me; puzzles seemed a bit too much lock-and-key; the world felt underimplemented. There was a bit too much "random searching of scenery" (a personal annoyance of mine). The door to the cellar doesn't block passage, which allows a player to bypass a significant part of the game.
Side comment: Take advantage of any special features of the system you use. For example, the automap in ADRIFT is great; don't disable it without good reason!
Cool story. I enjoyed the ending. My complaints are this: First, the door into the cellar, supposedly the final puzzle, doesn't actually block me from passing through into the grand denouement. Second, there's something about the map I don't like ... the unused rooms, I guess: the map on the whole could be tighter, especially since so much depends on holding the player's interest. But yeah, not a bad story.
Okay so waking up from a car crash is not the most original premise - several competition games have done it before. And a mysterious girl causing the crash and then disappearing smacks of Silent Hill. Nonetheless there is enough forward momentum and goal-driven gameplay to keep you at the keyboard. Unfortunately this enthusiasm will be drained by the generally lacklustre implementation. Even the simple task of undoing your seatbelt and getting out of the car becomes a major headache with misleading contradictory descriptions claiming your seatbelt is still attached and unattached. Getting past this stumbling block sadly only leads to another: a guess-the-verb nightmare to stem bloodflow from your head with bandages which even the supplied walkthru doesn't help with.
> take off seatbelt
You are not wearing the seatbelt! (Yes, I am.)
Cars should have trunks, even if there's nothing useful in them.
That's a very convienient first-aid kit, sitting on the ground in the middle of a spooky forest.
It's 'drawer', not 'draw'. Is that a regional thing?
I've seen it before, and I hate it. It's not listed as a variant on
either, so I feel justified in hating it. The desk, I subsequently discover, has drawers.
I also found it odd that just looking at the bedside
table gave me points, rather than getting the book or whatever.
Is the fact that the wardrobe is locked really surprising enough to merit an exclamation point? Maybe I'm getting a little too snarky here.
The sturdy chair is not something I can sit on.
The newspaper says the missing girl is 27, but descriptions in the game make her sound more like 10 or 12. I'll assume that's a plot point till
further notice. (It seems to have been, yeah.)
The "newspaper under the locked door / poke the key out / pull the paper back to get the key" puzzle is very, *very* old.
The breaking of the bookshelf was unexpected and amusing.
An attic on the second floor? Okay, my grandmother has
a second-floor attic, but it takes up the entire second floor. And she doesn't
a Victorian mansion. ...Ah, I forgot -- this is in England, so it's really what I would call the third floor. Okay, that's reasonable.
"In the centre of the room is a tall pedestal, on
which sits an elaborate, beautiful urn. The exit is to the east.
Also here is a beautiful urn." Which, btw, I can't look in or open even though I can hear something rattling inside it. Trying to smash it
indicates a puzzle. That doesn't make much sense. If the lid is glued shut or something, it should probably say so.
"You open the bedside drawer." "Who keeps a tin of herrings in their bedside draw?" Please pick one. (If you pick 'draw', you're wrong.)
"You can't put anything on the pedestal!"
Oh... maybe the car doesn't have a trunk because it's got a boot. I'll go back and check... nope.
Got to the end. Looked at the walkthru because I felt I was missing something. I was -- I didn't get the music box or the stuff in the
mousehole, or smash the urn (I had tried to do it the way the walkthru said, but didn't guess the right phrasing.). Is the ending different if
you do those things? Didn't feel like playing again to find out.
Ending sequence was pretty decent. Melodramatic, but then it's that sort of game. Was somewhat surprised by the plot twist at the very end.
Summary: Implementation is pretty lacking. Writing is serviceable, but didn't wow me or anything. Wasn't much in the way of puzzles, though it
appears to be because I got the ending early and missed them -- I was still exploring when the game suddenly and unexpectedly ended, and I
hadn't got around to thinking about solving puzzles yet. Some things, like the urn and the first-aid kit, just didn't make sense.
In a word, 'meh'. Rating: 5
This isn't a bad ghost story/horror game. It's not one of the really immersive kind, it's more the ever-so-slightly silly sort of ghost story where you keep seeing ghosts and freaky things over and over again, and the protagonist just shrugs his shoulders and keeps on exploring the creepy ol' mansion, because what else are you going to do. There were just a small handful of puzzles, most pretty simple. One in particular was a ghost itself, the Zork II key-in-keyhole puzzle risen from its grave to haunt the earth once more. It felt like there were a lot of extra items in the game — I think you could get by doing much less exploration than I did — but maybe they had some purpose I just didn't find. It's possible that there is some way to a better ending that I didn't find either. The one I got seemed pretty predetermined, but I finished with only 80% of the points, so I dunno. Anyway, this is fine if you like that sort of thing.
The Sisters 6 58%
Bah, what happened to auto-complete? This game doesn't seem to want to let me turn it on. Presumably that's an option the author sets when
writing the game, so why doesn't he want me using it? Anyway, enough about that, onto the game itself. It starts out well enough. The
writing seems pretty coherent, with the odd exception ('You are on a path that is moving down a hill.') The implementation is rock-solid, I
didn't find a single bug. It's also fairly deep, I found very few scenery objects which were undescribed. The hint system was good, providing a subtle hint first and complete instructions later, each of which deducted points that would have been scored for working it out on
your own, which is a nice touch (the author even included a walkthrough too, so top marks there). As it turned out however, I found the hints
mostly unnecessary. Even for a total numbskull like me, the puzzles in this game were remarkably easy (I'm embarrassed to admit that I did
need one of the hints to complete the game, thus finishing at 97%). Not that I'm complaining too much about that, I much prefer obvious puzzles
to the other extreme, ridiculous leaps of logic and guess-the-verb frustration. But many of the puzzles in the game were a little cliched,
having been employed in IF many times before. This is a good game, a nice little ghost story with a fitting twist in the tail, but ultimately nothing ground-breaking or vastly inspiring.
"The Sisters" ended up getting a fairly low score from me, a 4. The overall concept was interesting, but I found the game both intensely frustrating in the small details, and the fact that I was essentially railroaded into doing precisely what they wanted of me, to get to the ending that was desired. As far as I am aware, there really is no alternate ending, no way one can possibly alter the outcome. No matter what you do, whether you explore everything or ignore it all and jump to the end quickly, you will achieve the same tragedy. This was intensely frustrating, as about halfway through the game, I wanted a radically different outcome. I wanted the protagonist to join with the girls in somehow cleansing the house. I wanted this desperately. Yet in the end, I was forced to the same disappointing ending. Low points also for things like killing someone for running with an unclosed knife, the inability to try to really escape, etc. I recall several attempts to smash the vase/urn, but it would only work from a particular location using particular 'guess the verb'...another break in the gameplay is that if you go down to the basement, find the body, but do not examine it in all particulars, the game will not continue, and you can cheerfully rampage about. But when you take the closer look, that's when everything explodes. I also really didn't like the problem of 'The character knows things that you, the player, do not'. To me, that taints everything. It means that you're deliberately handicapped just for the sake of a surprising story ending. Not cool.
Reviewed by David Fletcher
Room name "Sitting in the driving seat of your car." Immediately followed by room description starting "You are sitting in the driving seat of your car." Ick.
> get out
You can't leave while the seatbelt keeps you in place.
> remove seatbelt
You are not wearing the seatbelt!
> phg frngoryg jvgu xavsr
Gur oynqr bs lbhe craxavsr arrqf gb or bcrarq.
Footprints lead into the woods, but you can't "enter woods" or use a compass direction to follow them. You have to "follow footprints".
[...] And now you are lost in the woods.
Lost in the woods. [room title]
You are lost in the woods. [...]
OK, I think I get the point.
Description says "something large has been buried here recently":
That doesn't make sense...
Blank lines before some responses, but not others.
> pick lock with coathanger
You are already carrying the broken wire coathangar.
Hurrah, it's the old get-the-key-from-the-other-side-of-the-door- by-knocking-it-onto-a-newspaper puzzle. Made worse by the fact that the game makes a knowing reference to how many times this has been done before. I should take a point off for that.
Another unsittable toilet. How many is that in this competition now? I didn't really mean to get obsessed with this as a judging criterion, but having tried it in one game I might as well keep testing them, for completeness. Although actually I think I missed trying some of the toilets I've seen. Mostly in games I wasn't bored with.
Room description mentions the urn, then says "Also here is a beautiful urn."
> x urn
[...] As you tip it you hear something rattling inside.
> look in urn
What are you talking about?
"It's a trophy of some sort. You found it in the study on the first floor." Well, thanks for the reminder, but it's a little redundant because I am _in_ the study on the first floor. I entered it and saw the trophy on the previous move.
If you're going to have a pendulum clock which is stopped, I should be able to swing the pendulum.
(The Adrift runner interrupts the final cutscene with its stupid high score table, forcing me to put an entry in it before I can go back to the game to click "more" and actually read the rest of the ending. OK, I've worked out how to disable the stupid high score table now. Does anyone actually _want_ a high score table in their IF interpreter?)
I don't understand some bits of the plot. Maybe I missed something - I didn't do all the optional puzzles which perhaps would have given me more information. Specific major spoilers: V qba'g xabj jub jnf ohevrq va gur jbbqf, naq V qba'g xabj jul V jnf oevatvat Gevfun'f obql onpx gb jurer fur yvirq nf n puvyq. Whfg n pbvapvqrapr?
Actually, maybe I missed some mandatory puzzles. I don't know if I was supposed to be able to immediately go down into the cellar from the kitchen. The walkthrough says to unlock the door, but I just walked through it without having a key.
I really can't believe a big Victorian house in Sussex was left empty for twenty years. They're worth too much.
Well, not too bad, only one spelling error noticed, but the prose was repetitive and said painful things like "What is going on here?" and "An inner voice tells you that there is something strange going on in this house, and you want to get to the bottom of it".
I suppose four points.
Reviewed by Robin Johnson
Good writing, but constantly telling me what I'm feeling, rather than just to make me feel it. This works at first but gets wearing after a while.
I can't UNDO out of death! Or is that a problem with Adrift in general?
I couldn't get out of the first locked room, even with the hints.
Whereas "Enter the Dark" tries to be scary (and fails horribly), this game is genuinely scary. At first I was nonplussed about it, due to little nagging flaws here and there. But as I went on, the story became more and more gripping, and the setting became more and more scary. One example of the fine horror writing is the fact that the bathtub in the first bathroom was empty instead of having a corpse in it or something like that: suspense makes the real scare all the scarier! Overall, in terms of atmosphere, the writing and plot were excellent, quite successful in the haunted house genre which tends to be spoiled by cliches.
Unfortunately, the implementation is buggy and not as
thoroughly tested as it could be. For example, "TAKE A, B, C" is not
and in the car crash scene, things only work in a specific order (you can't open the door before cutting the belt, but it doesn't tell you why). When lost in the woods, going in an unpredicted direction gives away the solution: the default message should've been customized. Also, turning off the tap makes water come out of it. I can't eat the fish after opening the tin (there is a valid reason for this, but the game fails to explain it). SIT ON CHAIR --> "that's not something you can sit on". Hmm, more betatesting needed here. Some decoration objects are also not as thoroughly implemented.
But now I'm nitpicking. The one MAJOR flaw I did find, is that you can walk through the locked door leading to the cellar without opening the door, and therefore you don't need to find the key, which means you don't have to go out to the lake, thereby completely missing a critical part of the story!! I accidentally did this my first time round, and it quickly became clear that the story was missing a piece, so I replayed and found this bug.
Due to this fatal flaw, I had to lower the score of this entry from 9 to 8---it is otherwise an excellent example of the horror genre.
Writing: 8 Quite good,
but could do with more proof-reading and spellchecking. Spelling errors in the
conclusion passage detract from the effectiveness of the text.
Setting: 10 Very nicely-done horror story, without the cliches, and genuinely scary at times.
Story: 9 Nice story, if a bit morbid (but what do you expect from a haunted mansion story?). Nice twist at the end.
Puzzles: 9 Good puzzles, makes sense in the context of the setting without feeling contrived.
Technical: 5 Needs more betatesting, has a nasty bug that can ruin the story by allowing the player through the cellar door without opening it. Also, minor annoyances with missing synonyms and alternate phrasings of important actions.
Brownie: 1 Horror isn't really my preferred genre, and this one is quite morbid. But it still deserves a Brownie point for having a convincing setting that doesn't sound cliche, and for a story that doesn't sound contrived, and genuinely scary.
I'll try to remember each negative point I give this one. The game looks promising at the begining, but it has a poor narrative and... this game is a big cliché with legs. The worst of all is the cliches of horror doesn't gives us terror. They are just bad or poorly developed. The wet dresses in the locket, the faces in the mirror, I could laught at them. And this... just doesn't work because the following premise: you could not put words or sentiments in the mouth of the player; because you tell me I'm scared because the face in the mirror, just it gives me no terror at all. You must try to give terror,
not to tell that is terror in the ambience, you must develop an ambience of mistery and fear, not put that words in the screen. You must provoke the player.
The game cut the interactivity of the player without good reasons, for instance, when the PJ doesn't want to reopen the locket with the wet dresses, or when we cannot take the chair at the beggining to break the window and escape... puaf!
The plot has not too much sense. The killer kills because he doesn't know the reason. And the story of the lineage of the family has nothing to do with the story and the events that fired up the haunting. The player is barely connected with the killer about the culpability. And we have a corpse in the forest because is a cliché! It has nothing to do with the game! :)
The worst of all is the non-interactive climax ending scene. Maybe the implementator was lazy at the end of develop, this and the lousy outcome give the sisters a 5. Almost enjoyable, almost.
Pretty solid and atmospheric horror story; even the possibility of skipping a large section of the game because of a bug doesn't change this fact.
Reviewed by Mirrorman
The start reminded me a bit of that old fighting fantasy book, hell house I think it was called so I was immediately drawn in. I liked the motivation of not knowing what had happened to the girl and the fact that you were wounded and needed to do something quickly.
I'm glad the penknife puzzle is early on, if it appeared later I probably wouldn't have bothered to retrace my steps and try again. I also wondered why the first aid wasn't in the boot (trunk) of the car or something like that rather than out in the woods. The geography felt a bit weird to me too, roads ending in lakes and the sheer drop with a road didn't fit my mental image of where I was but that might just be me.
I did struggle with a couple of the puzzles but I liked how you knew you were along the right lines even if you did have to guess at the right phrase sometimes. I would have liked more feedback like trying to put the tray under the door didn't really hint that I had the wrong object but it didn't hinder my enjoyment.
The ghostly events are great and made me extra keen to solve the game but once they repeat, or feel like they are repeating, I started thinking of them as events rather than part of the story. Nice touch and I liked how the character won't look in the mirror again after seeing something spooky but less of them would have freaked me out more.
I wasn't keen on the ending for the same reasons but I can think of plenty of books, movies, plays and other IF where I've got to the end and thought no, that isn't what I was hoping for. That doesn't make for a bad ending and I can see why the author wanted to not give too many clues away but I think a few more hints would have made that punchline more powerful.
The Sisters has a killer hook, a nice setting and some well placed puzzles that are easy enough for a thicko like me to beat with a bit of patience. Theres a lot of IF that I play and then completely forget about but The Sisters is definitely one I'll remember and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good spooky game. I'd give it 7 run over teenagers out of a possible 10, nice game!
Reviewed by MathBrush
This story is actually pretty fun, given how little this is done in IF.
It's a traditional ghost/creepy story with an old abandoned house to search through.
It has numerous bugs, and a huge number of 'guess the verb' problems, but I was glad I played it and enjoyed it overall. I used the walkthrough.
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