Home About Me


The Home of Otter Interactive Fiction

Anno 1700
Author: Finn Rosenløv  
Date: 2018

Reviewed by Mathbrush

Anno 1700 is an ambitious and sprawled-out pirate game involving two timelines, multiple NPCs, and a large map.

As is often the case with Adrift games, the game works well with the walkthrough but has trouble for someone without it. Very specific actions need to be guessed, and actions that seem like they would be easy (such as communicating with your base) cause trouble.

Playing this with the walkthrough, though, was enjoyable.

Edit: Several people pointed out to me that this was written in Adrift, not Quest, and I apologize for the mistake!

Reviewed by Victor Gijsbers

Anno 1700 is clearly a labour of love. It is the story of a guy who really loves pirate stories written by someone who, I suspect, really loves pirate stories. It’s a big game –- too big for the competition, really –- of a very classic variety: you’re let loose in a location and have to follow your innate desire for exploration, solving puzzles that lead to hidden tunnels, caves, coves, and so on, while slowly discovering what has happened. It may not be a fashionable genre in IF today, but it’s a classic for a reason. When done well, this type of game can be very satisfying.

Which leads us to the main question: does Anno 1700 do it well? Yes and no. Yes, as I said, it’s clearly a labour of love; and a piece like this, which simply wants us to enjoy the pirate theme, needs that most of all. It needs to clearly show that it was written by someone who is enjoying the pirate theme. This it does.

But there are two reasons the game in it’s current state doesn’t fully succeed. The vaguer and less easily remedied one is the quality of the prose. It’s not bad, but it’s kind of bland; sometime repetitive; sometimes awkward. The opening text is a case in point. It’s quite long, but it nevertheless fails to characterise the protagonist. It contains awkward sentences like this: “You just know within yourself, that you would never have passed the final exam.” The comma is misplaced; the “you just know” phrase is a bit of a cop-out; and one certainly wonder whether it is also possible to know things outside oneself. The text ends up not having much life in it. And this is true in general; the prose is mostly functional, but it doesn’t exude the same zest that the world building does. It’s hard to be much more specific, and hence hard to give very concrete advice to the author.

I can be much more specific about the second reason that the game doesn’t fully succeed: implementation. The game really needs another round of polishing to make play smoother and give the player more confidence in the author. Polishing a parser game is a lot of work, but it’s not hard, not once you see where things can go wrong. So I’m going to give a list of irritations that I made notes about; the aim being not to criticise the author, but to give pointers about how to improve the game.

[The version of the review that I posted in the authors' forum had a list of specific bugs here, but I'm leaving it out of the IFDB version.]

Certainly the most important thing here is to add more synonyms and recognise more actions. This would also help with some of the more obscure puzzles –- I started using the walkthrough after a while, because I sometimes got stuck because of guess-the-verb issues (as with the floorboards), and I’m pretty sure I would never have thought to try “braid threads”. Around the time my two hours were up, I also got stuck in the walkthrough: “prime wick” returned an error message, and I didn’t how to proceed any further.

All in all, I think this game needs to be improved. A lot of work has already been poured into it, so it would just be a shame to leave it as it is, with a relatively high number of parser issues and other small problems. Once polished a bit more, this could be a very enjoyable pirate romp. Light, but enjoyable.

Reviewed by Spike

Anno 1700 is a long parser game written in ADRIFT. Its cover, title, and blurb together combine to make it sound like time travel (backwards, to the past), pirates, and romance will be involved. I was envisioning something like Plundered Hearts meets The Outlander.

This turned out to be only partially correct, though. There's definitely time travel and pirates. However, Anno 1700 features much less romance than the cover art seemed to imply to me.

Anno 1700 is quite ambitious. It's not only long; there are also some complicated puzzle sequences (one in particular in mid-game), as well as an interesting setting and story.

Unfortunately, however, I ran into several implementation issues early in the game. For example,

I floundered around for a long time trying to figure out exactly the right phrase to tell Susan that I had arrived for work. TELL SUSAN ABOUT ME, ASK SUSAN ABOUT JOB, ASK SUSAN ABOUT HOTEL, TALK TO SUSAN - none of these worked. Finally I got SAY HELLO to work.

After obtaining my room key from Susan I then went upstairs and had trouble getting the game to let me enter my room. I tried UNLOCK DOOR, UNLOCK DOOR WITH KEY, and UNLOCK ROOM 101 WITH KEY before finally achieving success with UNLOCK DOOR 101 WITH KEY.

Inside my room I successfully managed to take the crack in the closet and carry it around with me.

I wasn't sure what to do next, so I went downstairs to talk to Susan again. SAY HELLO a second time just returned the command prompt.

I went back to my room, and the text said that after entering I dropped my suitcase on the bed and quickly changed into something more comfortable. But I wasn't carrying the suitcase anymore; I had left it in the closet before going downstairs. I had also changed into something more comfortable my first time in my room.

At this point, remembering the blurb's IFComp 2018 estimate of more than two hours, I decided to pull up the walkthrough and just follow it for the rest of the game. Which was kind of a shame, because there are the makings of a really excellent piece of IF here: I enjoyed the story, and the setting is strong. Also, the author has clearly put a lot of work into designing the flow of the plot and constructing some intricate puzzles. But Anno 1700 is unfortunately marred by its implementation, as well as some underclued puzzles. Having another five testers to play all the way through the game, find bugs, and suggest synonyms or better clues would have gone a long way to helping Anno 1700 achieve the potential that I think it has.

Finally, a couple of things I particularly enjoyed about Anno 1700:

The graphic of the parchment is really, really well-done. It was quite a pleasant surprise to type EXAMINE PARCHMENT and have that graphic appear. My only suggestion here would be to display it with the READ PARCHMENT command as well; I almost missed it.

Also, I liked being able to find the secret passage behind the closet in the present-day as well as when I've gone back in time. In general, I found the connections between the hotel in the present and the hotel in the past to be thought through well.

Reviewed by Christopher Huang

Here's a story with a lot of potential. We've got a historic hotel with, apparently, a hidden tower room that's supposed to be cursed, and we've got pirates and ancient secrets and probably time travel....

Yeah, I think there's time travel. I never made it that far.

The writing feels a bit indifferent. It's not exactly bad or ungrammatical; I can't point to anything specifically and spectacularly awful. It's just ... doesn't quite capture the mood. The author may need more practice with expressing their ideas in fewer words.

The implementation feels shaky, too. For a game like this, one expects a great deal of immersion. Characters should come to life with interaction, details should be deeply implemented, and a vast array of potential actions should be anticipated. I felt as though I had to follow the walkthrough exactly, or be totally lost in a place with nothing to do.

Still, like I said, it's a great setup. It just wants to be developed more. Maybe the author needed some more feedback on what was working and what wasn't. It's like when you're expecting Eggs Benedict for breakfast but the eggs are actually hard-boiled and the Hollandaise is a bit too watery. Everything is there; all that's lacking is the execution.

Reviewed by Sam Kabo Ashwell

Anno 1700 is a game that’s mostly about poking around in secret passages with medium-size dry goods; in theory you are uncovering a pirate romance mystery, but it really takes its time about getting around to that part, and is way more interested in tampering with the hard furnishings in fiddly ways I would absolutely never have thought of without the walkthrough. I gave up towards the end of a puzzle about clearing an obstacle by loading a centuries-old cannon with inexplicably well-preserved gunpowder. Doesn’t do a great job of describing its Attractive Female NPC.

Reviewed by McT

A lengthy parser game, written in ADRIFT, Anno 1700 advertises itself as ‘longer than 2 hours’. It’s right. I play for 2 hours, but don’t reach an ending. I quickly turn to the walkthrough. This game is big. And very difficult. Often, I feel, somewhat unfairly.

We play as a student on a years sabbatical working in an old hotel on the Gulf of Mexico. We are a history major, and the area has been linked with pirate activity since the 1700’s.

I would argue that this game makes a rather important mis-step. There are a set of hard and (I felt) somewhat unfair puzzles to actually find the narrative. The real story of the game doesn’t really kick off until after the player has found the secrets in their room. I only found them with the aid of the walkthrough, because the game makes no effort to help the player over these first hurdles.

This is very definitely a thing in the world of the parser. The game needs to engage the player from the start. Were I just a general player, I might have wandered around aimlessly for a while, then given up. Had I not had the walkthrough to hand, I would never have seen 90% of this game.

The game really needs to direct the player through these first set of puzzles to get them into the game. In order to be at least a little bit useful, here’s what I found, with my interactions :

Potential spoilers.

Right at the start, the very first room, we have a crooked tree. Right. x tree. You see a hole. x hole. “It’s a natural hole, formed as the tree grew over the years. It looks like a squirrel has moved in.” Cool. But then, it turns out, from the walkthrough, you have to ‘get nuts’? Huh? What nuts? Others might find this a fair puzzle. I did not. Without the walkthrough, I would have never, ever found the skeleton key. Just a “the hole is full of nuts.” would have been sufficient. In addition, ‘acorn’ is not recognized. The squirrel is not carrying a nut, it’s carrying an acorn. I tried “reach into hole” “feel inside hole” “put hand in hole”.

When I meet a young woman, I try and talk to her about stuff. She doesn’t understand anything I say. I go to the walkthrough. I have to explicitly say hello. What can’t I ask her about the key? My job? Me? Her? She doesn’t do anything. The problem is, she’s asked me something “What can I do for you?” – I’m trying to respond to her question for quite a while. It never occurs to me to say hello. This is a case where a little bit of help text for the player wouldn’t hurt – just to get us into the mechanics. Other games do this – embedded in the text “When you meet new people, why not try saying ‘hello ‘ to them.” sort of thing.

I’ve examined the closet, but I really can’t find anything to do with it. There’s a hole. When I review the walkthrough, it turns out I need to ‘look in closet’ to see the thing I was supposed to see. That’s just annoying. Without the walkthrough, because examine had uncovered the hole, I would have never realized that ‘look in’ would be a different action and thus would never have done it.

I examined the candle holder. I thought it was scenery. I would have never thought to try and take it because the text doesn’t cue me. Just a simple “The candle holder feels loose.” would have cued me. Or even, as this is the beginning of the game : “The candle holder comes away from the wall into your hand.” when you examine it.

Once I find the secret passage, I become engaged with the game. However, I have turned to the walkthrough at this point. The remainder of the puzzles I engage with seem to have similar issues. But I will stop there. I think this needs a couple more rounds of testing from a really experienced Beta tester.

There is obviously a lot of work gone into this game. But it does need another set of eyes on it – the puzzles need to be fairer and more cued – I wish the people I meet had more life to them. I wish I had gotten further into the game. I would definitely play again if these issues were resolved and the game was re-released. 5/10.

Reviewed by The Xenographer

This game has a fun premise, but I kept running up against implementation issues.

It wasn’t always made clear in room descriptions which directions exits were in (or whether one actually needed to go “in” or “out”)--exits were sometimes described as “left” or “right” or “behind you,” or just not mentioned at all. There was no “exits” command and no map; as far as I could tell, the only way to get a list of exits was to try to go in a direction where there wasn’t one.

When I tried to talk to the owner of the hotel, the game (in what I assume is a default response) told me that the syntax was “tell [person] about [thing]” or “ask [person] about [thing].” What I actually needed to do was “say hello to [person].” Which I really should have tried--it seems very obvious in retrospect--but I got hung up on the tell/ask syntax and failed to figure it out, eventually resorting to the walkthrough.

I completely missed the corroded key because in order to get it you first have to “take nuts” from the squirrel nest in the hole in the tree; aside from the squirrel being said to be holding an acorn, “nuts” are never mentioned in the description of the tree or the hole and it’s therefore not clear that they’re something you can take. I again had to go to the walkthrough for this.

Guess-the-verb problems also came up a bit. In particular, “prime wick” isn’t something I would have thought of without some in-game prompting. The whole cannon puzzle was really under-clued and seemed to kind of assume you know the steps of loading and firing a cannon without being told, unless there was some optional reading material somewhere not in the ship that I missed? Anyway, that point is where my playthrough ended, because no matter what I did I couldn’t get the cannon to fire even when I went through every step in the walkthrough--it kept saying “Are you sure? You seem to be missing something.” So I gave up.

Reviewed by Thomas Mack

“Anno 1700” is a long parser-based game about a student who takes a summer job at a hotel. After discovering a pirate hideout nearby, she explores the cave and uncovers its history.

Gameplay: The game starts out with a well-written prologue and a few opening scenes at the hotel. The bulk of it, though, concerns her exploration of the pirate cave. Unlike most adventure games, this one isn’t focused entirely on the actual exploration itself; instead, it shows the protagonist’s attempts to find a way into the hideout, to recover artifacts from it, to talk with other people about the cave and its artifacts, and to reconcile its history with the present. In short, it’s about more than traversing the cave itself, a welcome change from most adventure games in this genre. 7/10.

Mechanics: Most of the game is spent exploring the hotel and the area around it using standard adventuring techniques: finding secret passages, obtaining keys and useful tools, picking locks with bits of wire, etc. A large part of the game is just finding the secret passages needed to navigate through the map, rather than the more involved puzzles in other games, and the game focuses on the experience of exploring a mysterious place as an amateur adventurer without any special tools. The first few puzzles in the game seem similar to each other, but they become more interesting once the player reaches the cannon sequence, which is more involved than the other puzzles but not particularly difficult. Although it was clear at each stage of that puzzle what I wanted the protagonist to do, it was occasionally unclear how to get her to do it. 6/10.

Presentation: The setting evokes the pirate theme throughout the long cave exploration sequence and flashback, but the contrast between those parts of the game and the initial hotel exploration emphasizes the adventurousness of the former. Both the protagonist and the NPCs that appear briefly are characterized well, especially given that the emphasis of the game is on exploration and problem-solving rather than conversation. The fantasy element of the flashback is a bit odd compared against the realism of the rest of the game, but the mechanic it allows is interesting enough to suspend disbelief for that section. There are a few guess-the-verb issues: for example, UNLOCK ROOM is not understood, but UNLOCK [room] 101 is. 7/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You enjoyed “Plundered Hearts” or “Cutthroats.”

Score: 7

Reviewed by dgtziea

The beginning gives a brief background for this ADRIFT game: I'm a young woman trying to find myself, basically: interest in history, college sabbatical, going to my new job as a receptionist at an old hotel in Mexico, in a gulf where pirates once roamed.

I arrive. I talk to my boss, get my room key. I change clothes in my room. Then my boss tells me to just, look around, make sure the guests are happy.

And I go around, and try talking to guests, who all don't respond much. Greeted the cook, tried greeting the maid, no other staff around. There's a framed newspaper article in the lobby, says this place used to be a brothel run by the current owner's great grandmother. I ask my boss about it, she tells me about secret tower that was closed off.

And that's about as far as got before I had to check the walkthrough, and from then on that was what I was basically following. Later on, there's some get some secret passages, lots of hidden objects and masked levers, with some guess-the-verb issues, like

put key in =/= insert key in
push/pull thing =/= turn thing

I stopped when the key I was using unceremoniously broke, and I looked at the walkthrough and it said that I just had to exit the room and go back, and I just had no clue where it might want me to go next. I didn't want to just follow a walkthrough step by step.

So the beginning is just straight prose. Bit boilerplate, some slightly unnatural phrasing, but it's fine, establishes a character. Then the game starts, and you turn back into Generic IF Adventuring Protagonist, and none of your character background really comes up.

I don't know if other people play this way, but if I'm told I'm a receptionist, I'm going to do my darn job, especially after the sincere slice-of-life intro. I'm not going to start poking around at trees, picking stuff up, or even wandering around the hotel; I looked for my boss, I did what she told me to do, then I tried to look around for guests to help. And there weren't any.

SPOILER: Would it have helped if a guest had told me there was a squirrel problem, or something? Maybe.

I just think this feels too undirected. I'd love if the protagonist imposed themselves a bit more, expressing interest in the newspaper article, showing surprise at the secret passage, and in general directing some motivations for me to follow. But if it isn't supposed to be that sort of game, it might still help if the description told me the candle holder looked suspicious, or the statue's hands look like they rotate. Things happen, things "rise", without really suggesting what action I might take next, and even important objects don't suggest what I might do with them.

If those things were fixed, and if more verbs were implemented for puzzle objects, I think the puzzle aspects of this would be fine. I think they'd work well to generate a sense of mystery, of delving into a secret/hidden past. The history and geography of the place is intriguing and decently established, and I really liked the setting. The backstory-focused descriptions were good; it's just the ones for interactable objects that were unhelpful, and generally it was just too hard to figure out what the game wanted me to do. (Also, it seems like this has been updated since I downloaded and played it, so some of this might be out-of-date!)

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


Any donation would be much appreciated to help keep the site online and growing.
To help make your donation quicker and easier just click the "Donate" button and you
will be taken to the secure Paypal donation page.
    Home  |  About Me