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Weekend Reviews

Author: Pierre
Date: 2005
TADS


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

Basic Plot

You and your father spend the weekend at the home of Sir Richard Penbright and his family. You spend the weekend wandering about the mansion and interacting with the Penbright family (wife Catherine and daughter Julie) and employees at the mansion (their maid Annie, and Sir Richard's personal assistant Amanda). During this time, your father and Sir Richard engage in negotiations over Sir Richard's upcoming purchase of your father's business.

Anyone familiar with Pierre's previous work, Cruise, will recognize the Penbright family from that game. The events in this game take place prior to the events of Cruise.

Overall Thoughts:

I always enjoyed Pierre's original game, Cruise, especially with the multiple timelines and the way interactions early in the game would alter later events. This game, while not as ambitious as Pierre's previous work, works in the same way. You have a limited number of turns, and certain events take place at specific times. If you aren't in the right place at the right time, you miss the scene. And, some scenes are simultaneous, presenting you with an option as to which part of the game to experience. In short, you cannot see all of the game in one playing, which obviously leads to a replayable game. This game, while designed around the same concept as Cruise, is unfortunately not quite as well done, as you'll see from some of my discussions below. However, it is still an enjoyable game and most players will like it.

Puzzles/Game Play:

I'll admit that timed games are not my favorite, so that may color my review and please take that into account. Many of the puzzles, and all of the game play, are based upon needing to be in certain areas at a certain time. For example, you have to attend meals 3 times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), as outlined in the accompanying README. As such, much of the game is spent figuring out where you need to be, and what times of the day you need to be there. For me, this meant a lot of saving, clock watching, and waiting around to see if something would happen. I found myself making notes of what time certain events happened, and how many turns it would take me to move from room A to room B in order to be on time. This gave the game a real rushed feeling at times, as you would be involved in certain scenes all the while watching the clock and realizing "I need to be there in x turns!", which lessened the enjoyment of some of the scenes, especially some of the sex scenes.

There was one "puzzle" which I don't think the author ever intended to be a puzzle, and is quite possibly the first player invented puzzle: the torch. I bring this up because this simple object launched a huge discussion at Yahoo. To simplify it for future players, "torch" is a British word for "flashlight", or, "flashlight" is an American word for "torch" (depending upon which side of the Atlantic you live). There were some players attempting to light the torch instead of turning it on, thinking it was the flaming-bit-at-the-end variety. This lead to many amusing (to me) posts from players claiming this was some sort-of bug or oddly worded command.

Sex:

The sex scenes are pretty well done, with multiple interactions available with many of the female non-player characters. There are also plenty of voyeuristic scenes (whose viewing is one of the major puzzles in the game). As a warning, there are also light bondage and sado-masochistic scenes, which some players may find objectionable. They aren't nearly as heavy or prevalent as they were in Cruise, and they are also done in a tasteful fashion - or as tasteful as such scenes can be. In other words, all participants are willing. The only problem I found with the sex scenes is that some of them take place at times in the game where you have limited time to spend with the character in question. This leads to a rushed feeling, which lessened the enjoyment of those scenes.

Technical:

As any author who writes a game with a lot of character movement will know, these types of games are complicated. Getting the timing down right, and making sure that there are no blocks to movement can be quite tricky. Unfortunately, there are a few situations in this game that this delicate balance doesn't quite come off the way the author probably wishes. I ran into a couple of instances where it was possible to "break" the game timing, or throw it off in a major manner. There are also some instances where performing certain actions at the wrong time can really cause problems. And there were some instances where things just didn't act right. For example, I found at least one instance where I could steal stuff right in front of members of the Penbright household without anyone caring, despite being warned that this could lose the game in the README. However, overall the game works pretty well.

Intangibles:

This game, like Pierre's previous work Cruise, shows up both the good and bad points of timed games. As I said earlier, I am prejudiced against these types of games, and so therefore I probably focus more on the bad points that on the good ones, and you should read this review with that in mind. The good point of the game is that it presents a style of playing that is more true to life: in real-life you don't have all day to spend wandering around, and so you shouldn't in game playing either. Another good point is that certain events happen simultaneously, just as they do in real life. You have to decide what you are going to do and when, which gives more flexibility in play. However, the flip side is that you sometimes feel rushed, and other times you are in a "hurry up and wait" situation, where you arrive at a scene early and are forced to "z" or "wait until xxx" to get the next scene to kick off.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this game was well done. Like I said, I always enjoyed Cruise, and thought that perhaps it never got quite the recognition it deserved. Writing a truly interactive game such as that, where there are multiple instances of actions performed early in game that result in changing scenarios later, is incredibly difficult - which is why those types of games are so rare. In Weekend, Pierre attempts to recreate this type of game, in a scaled-down version. While it is still an admirable effort, some of the technical faults tend to lessen the overall enjoyment of this otherwise well written game.

Rating: B-


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