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Dung Beetles Are Aliens Reviews

Author: Duncan Bowsman
Date: 2009

Reviewed by James Webb (as revgiblet)

What makes this enjoyable is the humour and formatting combo - the old presentation one-two.  The game is very pleasing to the eye as DB has made every effort to ensure that the layout of the screen adds to the atmosphere of the adventure.  The ASCII graphics (they may be ASCII but one could hardly call them crude) are splendid.  However, the downside to this is that the game practically demands that you play it in the ADRIFT Runner -indeed, I couldn't even get to play it in Gargoyle without it dumping me out of the game when I tried to leave the MAWINDEX terminal.  Hardly a major complaint - that the game is designed to run best in its natural environment - but one that may mean that those non-Drifters who like to use Gargoyle etc. will face the harsh glaring light of discrimination.

DB's prose makes the kooky B-movie sci-fi setting works very well.  Add this to the generous layer of polish and this intro certainly seems to inspire the player to try the full-fat version.  There are a couple of other comments that I would wish to make.  Firstly, the intro is 'unwinnable' - or at least it tells you that it is while you are playing.  This is clearly, no doubt, due to the fact that the first 'puzzle' appears to require the use of more than the three rooms and this is not allowed by the competition.  I don't like being unable to reach an 'ending', even in a competition like this.  The second comment is that if I were playing the full version of this game I would be doing so to uncover more witty writing and messages on the MAWINDEX and see extra cute ASCII art.  It wouldn't be because I cared about uncovering the Dung Beetle conspiracy.  This may be a flaw in the introductory nature of this game, or it may be because the concept doesn't really grab me.  Either way, it shows that it's tricky to develop a killer hook within the constraints of this competition.  And trust me on this, if I'm an expert on anything it's failing to deliver on expectations.

I really like DB's writing and style.  He shows talent at such things.  He also has an edge in that he already knows how to make ADRIFT dance to his tune, despite being a relative nOOb.  His first complete, non-comp restricted, non-based-on-an-obscure-film game will be a beauty I reckon.

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