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Asylum Reviews
Author: Mel S
Date: 2003

Reviewed by David Whyld

Asylum begins with you waking (quite predictably) in an asylum. You have no memories of how you came to be there or even your own name, although a quick look around your room indicates you might well be called Mr Tanakian. Wander around the asylum itself and you'll encounter the other patients but it's clearly not a large place you're confined in as I only found three others besides myself.

Aslyum is a likeable enough game without ever really being anything special. It lacks the humour of Mel S' comedy games - The Evil Chicken Of Doom, Escape From Insanity and Dance Fever USA - and the ease of use of The Lost Mines but it has a kind of charm all the same. The conversation system is a nice idea although as it never seems to change and characters respond with the same default answer every time you speak to them it doesn't work that well.

Guess-the-verb strikes in a few places, most notably in the task involving trying to distract Leroy: a cord was plugged into the wall which I wasn't able to pull out yet I was able to unscrew - something that would never have occurred to me if I hadn't been carrying a screwdriver! There is no hints system in the game (always a bad thing) although an unintentional one helped me out a bit. Upon examining a pillow in one of the other rooms I was told it was empty unlike the one in my own room. This came as quite a surprise as I hasn't even examined the pillow in my own room at that stage!

One thing that is usually the bane of Mel S' games - the dreaded "use object on object" command - was mercifully absent here which made a refreshing change. Then again, as I spent most of the game wandering around with an item I was unable to find a single use for it maybe wasn't such a great thing. At least when an author uses a similar method for solving puzzles in every game you tend to expect that sort of thing and be ready for it. When he suddenly changes and different methods are used, it often becomes confusing figuring out what those methods are!

Progress is pretty difficult. I came across several points in the game where I was stuck and no matter what I tried it just didn't seem to work; obvious things like giving the cross to the guy called Jesus failed miserably. This isn't a big game so maybe the author figured that people wouldn't encounter too many problems with it and hints weren't necessary but I, for one, would have dearly loved a little guidance somewhere along the way.

Logic: 7 out of 10
Guess-the-verb with the cord was a long way from logical but everything else in the game - at least that I've encountered so far - was nicely straightforward. 

Problems: 6 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Guess-the-verb reared its ugly head as well as the unintentional hint with the pillow. 

Story: 4 out of 10
No background at all, and just a few short lines telling you the current situation. Admittedly, a game which begins with the player not knowing anything about himself would be pretty much ruined if it came complete with a detailed background but I'm sure there are better ways to set the scenery than this.

Characters: 5 out of 10 Three other patients in the asylum, as well as a nurse and a doctor. Leroy is quite interesting and the conversation system a nice touch but a few changes to what the characters say from time to time could have made it quite a bit better.

Writing: 5 out of 10
Average for the most part.
Game: 5 out of 10

A likeable enough game with a few rough edges that clearly could have done with a little more work before the finished version was released.
Overall: 32 out of 60 

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