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Adriftmas Party Reviews
Author: Mystery
Date: 2002

Reviewed by David Whyld

In a way, ADRIFTmas Party is the first big ADRIFT collaboration game. Though written by Mystery, it has contributions from most of the regular ADRIFT forum members (myself included) in that they appear as themselves (or, for the most part I guess, the way they like the rest of the world to see them). The storyline follows the problem of none other than Santa Claus himself who has run into a spot of bother on Christmas Eve. His sleigh, complete with the reindeers, is stuck on top of Campbell Wild's mansion and Santa is stuck on the ground. Out there are a whole world full of people wanting their presents delivering and the only one capable of doing so… isn't capable of doing a whole lot right now. So into Wild Mansion goes Santa to discover a way to get back onto the roof.

How accurately the setting of ADRIFTmas Party reflects Campbell's house I don't know (and the big man isn't saying) but it's a well detailed set of locations, with a variety of static items in each location that are all examinable and many of which can be interacted with. Dynamic items are hidden cleverly amidst the static ones although their immediate use (assuming they even have a use) isn't always obvious.

One area ADRIFTmas Party excels in, as might be expected, is with the characters. There are twenty or so forum members wandering around and each can be talked to and questioned about a variety of subjects. Unfortunately, the usual problems that come into play when using the standard ADRIFT conversation format of "ask [character] about [subject]" come into play here. As one of the people who submitted a character (you'll find him wandering around the mansion looking for someone to antagonise), I had a list of subjects I knew other characters could be asked about but I imagine anyone lacking such a list would be hard pressed to know what to ask.

ADRIFTmas Party has a few bad points that overall bring it down quite a bit. There are a couple of strange responses to standard tasks that had me baffled (try examining the washing machine) and the amount of characters, who continually move from location to location throughout the game, means that ADRIFTmas Party runs quite slowly. While the slowdown never reaches the stage where the game becomes unplayable as a result, it can be pretty frustrating - particularly if you're in one location, have an idea about something you want to try out in another location and then have to wend your way (slowly, very slowly) to where it is you need to be.

I have to confess to not being able to make a whole lot of progress with ADRIFTmas Party. I was able to wander around the mansion, open lots of cupboards and doors, converse with the characters in the game (including a strange conversation when I spoke to myself for a few minutes!) and find several items - but beyond that the game had me pretty much baffled. There is no hints system so if you get stuck - as I did - then you're pretty much stuck for good.

Logic: 7 out of 10
Nothing illogical about the game although a door was listed in one location yet could only be referenced from another.

Problems: 6 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Slowdown was the major problem and even clearing the screen didn't help matters much. Also, the geography of the mansion seemed a little messed up in places.

Story: 5 out of 10
Amusing enough in its own right but it could have done with a little more fleshing out. Aside from wandering around the mansion, opening doors and chatting to people there didn't seem to be a lot to do.

Characters: 8 out of 10
Naturally, the characters are hard to fault. They're all based on real people (even if the things some of them say (one called davidw had some strange comments to make) are a little unusual to say the least) and only the difficulty of trying to think of what to ask them lets the game down.

Writing: 5 out of 10
Fairly well written although some of the locations could have done with fleshing out.

Game: 5 out of 10
Not a bad game although finding anything to do once inside the mansion is the biggest problem facing the potential player.

Overall: 36 out of 60

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