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Silk Road Secrets: Samarkand To Lop Nor Reviews

Author: C Henshaw
Date: 2005

Reviewed by David Whyld

This game I liked immediately. There's a decent background and the setting looks to have stepped straight out of the Arabian Nights, almost one of my faves. 

Unfortunately, as with the author’s other entry in the intro comp, there are many things about it that leave a lot to be desired and while one might be a flaw on Adrift’s part, the others are definitely down to the author. 

Figuring out what to do is hard. There are two locations to begin with but I couldn’t seem to find anything that actually required doing: no puzzles, no people to speak to. Nothing. There were things to examine and the descriptions were nice but no matter what I examined, I didn’t find anything that would move the game further forward. In despair I went to the hints and found the walkthrough. Funnily enough, the walkthrough indicates there's a sword to pick up in the second location which I thought was a little strange as I’d been there and not seen one. But I went and had another look. Still no sword. However, typing “get sword” allows me to take the previously invisible sword. I've seen this problem before so it’s probably some flaw in the game system but I'm surprised the author never noticed it and took steps to fix it. 

The next problem involved examining a mosque in the first location which was a problem in the sense that the location description doesn’t list a mosque being there. How was I supposed to know it was there? Beats me. 

Then there’s the problem that the walkthrough doesn’t work beyond the first few moves. I'm told to go northeast from the first location but I can’t. 

I’m in two minds about whether I’d be interested in playing the full version of this game. On one hand, yes I would. It was well written and I loved the setting. On the other hand, if invisible swords, invisible mosques and a walkthrough that doesn’t even work are what the full game has to offer, then I'm probably better off avoiding it. But I’d like to think that these things will be fixed if this ever evolves into a full game, so… 

Do I want to play the full game? Yes. 

Reviewed by Stefan Donati

This game was an entry in the Adrift Intro Comp 2005, where it finished first. At the beginning, we are told the story of Beghram, a young Tokharian, who was outcasted ten years ago. Now, at the age of 25, it's no wonder he leaves his current exile in Damascus to serve the Khan of the legendary city of Samarkand with an unspecified task. 

The actual game starts with the player standing in the middle of a vividly described marketplace in the Shakhristan (Inner City) of Samarkand. Shortly thereafter the meeting with the Khan, a nervous man eager to send you off, takes place. By promising you the sword of Nismus, a probable solution to end your exile, you accept the mission. Enriched by a first glimpse at your quest and another, precious sword of the Khan, Beghram goes on to meet a priest at the zoroastrine shrine. I found it rather hard to get the useful information here, as I wasn't sure what to ask. But I was eventually rewarded with more hints and an old, mysterious amulet. At the end of this intro game, back at the marketplace, you buy a horse called Syx. Given the presence of the market, I think the game misses a good chance here. I'd have loved to bargain for this horse actively! 

The whole setting of the story is very well done, and adds a very tight and lovingly atmosphere to the game. It can only be hoped that the author, C. Henshaw, keeps up the high level of passion for the writing throughout the whole game. There's not much in it as far as puzzles are concerned, but the story leaves already enough space and ideas for a further and thrilling development. 

Still, I also found a few negative points. Spelling was generally good, and the mistake I've found has been reported back to the author. And for my (maybe lazy) taste, the depth needed to perform some actions is too long. In order to see how much money Beghram carries, I needed to open the pouch, examine it, and then examine (count didn't work) the coins. As long as the author doesn't intend to make something special with the pouch (like punishing me for not having closed it afterwards), I think this are too many steps for such basic information. This love for detail left me even more wondering why I've been able to leave the Zoroastrian shrine even though I had closed the door. 

All in all, 'Silk Road Secrets: Samarkand to Lop Nor' is very promising and excellent written. I for one am really anticipating the release of the full game. 

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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