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Tenebrae Semper Reviews
Author: Seciden Mencarde
Date: 2010

Reviewed by David Whyld

This began with a frustrating little puzzle that prevented me leaving the start location until I had all my stuff, while quietly remaining silent on exactly what I needed to take with me. It was a puzzle made worse by ADRIFT’s buggy item carrying limits that prevented me picking up certain things – like a pen – because my hands are full. Oh, and if you pick up a pen, then drop it (as I did when experimenting with what items were necessary), you can’t pick the pen up again. Nasty “puzzle”. I ran into the same problem later on in the game when I returned to the room and then was prevented from leaving because one of the required items was no longer in my possession.

There were other annoyances – items listed in the room description not being examinable, typos, misleading exit messages, guess the verb and the like – but it’s easier to forgive these considering the three hour time constraint imposed by the comp. Nicely written, too, which was an added bonus.

Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out most of the time what I was meant to be doing. Even with the Generator open and actively cheating, it was difficult to guess what my next move should be and often I’d be left stranded in one location with no idea of what I was meant to do next. On the occasions when I did manage to make progress, this was usually done after trying every single thing I could think of doing. Not so much solving a puzzle as hitting upon the solution by sheer persistence.

Overall this seemed a little too ambitious for a three hour camp and the rough edges really showed.

2 out of 5

Reviewed by J. J. Guest

Comments: This is quite a large game for a three-hour comp, and I feel that some of the time put into creating rooms and scenery objects might have been better spent in playing through and testing, particularly in making sure the game was well enough clued. Unfortunately I had to turn to the generator several times to find out what to do. I didn't get very far, but I'd be very interested in playing a more polished version of the game. Verdict: over-ambitious but promising.

Reviewed by Wade Clarke


This is currently a disaster that never clues the player as to what they should do. I definitely would not progress this game any further until this demo has been improved to show that it's going to work.

Problem one - When we wake from our dream, we do not know what class we are about to go to. This is the only knowledge which would indicate what books we should take with us to prevent the "You haven't got all your stuff get" message. So we have to randomly guess which combination of books and items we need to take with us, boringly picking up and dropping different combinations. This problem needs to be fixed no matter what, but I would suggest the author considers removing the inventory limit from his game anyway. Almost nobody appreciates having one in IF.

I was annoyed when I looked at the calendar, as I did not get the only thing from it I wanted - a message telling me what class I was about to attend.

Problem two -Whenever we automatically move to a new location, the new location description should be printed out automatically. We should not have to type 'look' again.

Problem three - when we get to class, there is no indication as to what we should do. No chair is even mentioned, so 'sit in chair' will not occur to anyone.

Problem four - Again, when we get to Lauren's room, there is no clue that we should examine her bed. The character demonstrates no surprise at finding that his book has teleported beneath the bed sheets in a room with no people in it.

If we stand outside the room and type 'exits', it says we can only go north, which is untrue.

Summary: the idea of playing a student and getting ready to go to class in some detail, and beginning to find mysterious things, is a good one, but this demo fails to exhibit the most basic IF design common sense and thus is completely aggravating.

The writing absolutely has to guide the player as to what might be expected of them at each point in the game, and the appropriate objects must be present and also made apparent in the writing. (E.g. a chair to sit on in a classroom). I hope the failings are just the result of being rushed for this competition, because while the detail of the game world has increased, the game execution is a big fall from what had been worked up in the Forest House games.


Reviewed by BlueMaxima

Comments: First room seems buggy (had to drop and pick up the pens). Endings unreachable, should have been, really. Good writing, more or less, but spoilt.

Reviewed by Eric Anderson

SCORE: 0.47
Comments: could not get out of the room. The dream sequence too short and not separated from waking up. Examine failed several items. Started to "fix" some of the code, then decided against as author might have other
things in mind, just incomplete programming.

Reviewed by Duncan Bowsman

This year, I've decided to associate a song by Rush with each game along with its score.

SCORE: 4 shadows out of 10.
Song: "Subdivisions"
Comments: -No hints.
-I assume I'm supposed to wait for class to start at 12:30? Unfortunately, the clock is broken so time is stuck between 12:00 and 12:09.
-Being stuck in a time bubble with no clear idea of what to do, no escape, and only a college algebra textbook is suitable enough for horror, but unfortunately the game just feels incomplete.
-Apparently one must only sit on a chair to escape that.
-The author requested a transcript from me, which contains most of my complaints about the game. In all, it should be considered more an open beta than a finished work. Players be warned. Below are some of the most
salient issues...
-It's possible to get stuck in one's dorm after returning to it (don't have all of your things).
-Inventory limit is far too small.
-Science Hall and the later Forest Path are inaccessible as it stands (Science Hall cannot be gotten back to after returning with the notebook).
-The writing is all abstract and overly cryptic, which makes it hard to understand what exactly is going on. Lack of understanding of conflicts, motivations, and general reasoning of things in some places makes it hard for
the writing as it stands to be very compelling.


Reviewed by DCBSupafly

Comments: great tone, great eerie feelings, especially enjoyed the clocks, but trouble navigating and trouble determining how to advance story.

Reviewed by Mel Stefaniuk

Comments: This game has a lot of promise but I think it just might have been too ambitious for the three hour time limit. Room descriptions are well done but there's still a lot of instances of not being able to examine objects that can be seen in the room. It's also vague as to what you're supposed to do a lot of the time, I had trouble simply getting out of the dorm room at the start and eventually had to look at the generator to figure out what exactly I needed to be carrying to be able to leave. It has an intriguing story but I think more time than 3 hours is needed to really achieve everything it's trying to do.

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