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Must Escape! Reviews
Author: Robert Street
Date: 2005

Reviewed by C. Henshaw

1. Does it set the scene? 
The first paragraph is a bit awkward in its wording, but the laboratory description that follows on from it is compelling, and sets the scene quite well – a scene of destruction caused by you, with imminent consequences. Adrenaline on reading the beginning – high. 

2. Is it well implemented? 
There is nothing worse than not being able to examine everything in an introduction. I like to get into a game slowly, look at everything, think about what’s going on, what kind of game this is going to be, etc. Must Escape! ticks these boxes to begin with – I can examine most things in the lab, and the descriptions of static objects continues to set the scene of chaos. 

There are problems with room interaction though, that starts to get frustrating; although there is shattered glass, pools of liquid, etc. on the floor, ‘x floor’ returns ‘The floor looks normal.’ There is no description for the walls or ceiling, which would help round out this important first-contact room. Also, there is nothing that can be taken or picked up in this room – it’s essentially an empty room (unless I missed something, and knowing me I probably did). 

‘X me’ returns the bog-standard ADRIFT response – a bit disappointing considering I’ve just sabotaged an enemy base, trashing its laboratory. Also, I’m a bit surprised to be holding nothing, since, again, I’ve just sabotaged an army base! 

Exiting the room to the west, the action begins. The explanation is a bit strange – a prescribed ‘you have to do this now’ scenario, which can be useful at times, but here is pretty obvious. There’s an enemy agent, and nowhere to go (except back into the lab). So you have to fight… 

Now this is where this game gets interesting for me, because I’m highly in favour of trying new methods in IF to engage the player. There is a basic diagram of two stick figures, in a fight pose, with health levels underneath. You are given a series of commands, for right, left, punch and wait. When I first saw this I thought ‘what fun! Some graphic involvement!’ I give lots of credit for this. Left and right moves you across the screen (so its actually forward and back), and if you are too far away your punches miss. The graphics shows these changes in movement, and it shows who’s punching who. As it turns out, there’s not that much interesting about it, it’s slow, and the graphics are just too basic to be exactly riveting. However, I think there’s a lot of potential here (how cool would some old fashioned POW! and BLAM! balloons be!). 

3. Do I want more? 
Not at this point. This intro would need a lot more work put into it to make me want to keep playing. Although the idea is interesting – interactive fighting – it needs more character build-up, a more comprehensive narrative, and better graphics. The single-minded plot – to fight your way out of a tricky situation – would be fine if the interactive gimmicks were better implemented. 

Score (each out of 10): 
Scene setting: 5 
Implementation: 3 
Appetite whettage: 1 
Bonus points: 5 for attempting something new in ADRIFT 
Total: 14 (less than good in practice, but has potential in theory) 

Reviewed by David Whyld

This started well but then seemed to lose its focus too quickly. You're a saboteur, apparently, who has just succeeded in his mission to wreck an enemy base. Only you’ve been detected and must escape before you're captured. 

This could have been quite an interesting intro to a game but what follows is a very clumsily done fight between you and a guard. The game ends the moment the fight is done, making Must Escape remarkably short even for an intro. 

I’ll grudgingly admit the fight was interesting. It consists of graphics of each of the combatants which move back and forth across the screen as they fight. A nice touch, although I felt it could have been handled better. 

Did it make me want to play the rest of the game? Not really. When all is said and done, there was too little here to really judge what the rest of the game would be like, and if it involves any more combat I definitely wouldn’t want to play it. A nice idea in the short term, maybe, but anything longer with quickly devolve into tedium. 

Personally, I felt this would have worked better if set at the start of your mission and you were given the opportunity to enter the enemy base and maybe plant a few bombs along the way. Setting an intro at what seems like the middle or end part of a game just didn’t work very well. This played more like an excerpt than an intro. 

Do I want to play the full game? No. 

Reviewed by Stefan Donati

Robert Rafgon entered the Adrift Intro Comp 2005 with two games. This one, 'Must Escape!', was placed sixth. 

For a relief, the game starts right in the middle of the action, which in this case takes place inside the enemy's base, in a laboratory. The player's character, some kind of agent it seems, has successfully destroyed all experiments in the lab. His attempt at staying undiscovered was not equally successful, though, as a loud alarm is ringing in the background. You must escape! And with only one exit, this proves to be an easy but also dangerous decision. Subsequently, you are spotted by a guard and drawn into a fight. After a victorious slugfest, you're still on the run, knowingly that you've won a battle, but not the war. And so the intro ends. 

The use of a combat system to fight the enemy agent was refreshing, although the knowledge of close combat skills the two opponents possessed appears to be limited to punching. That said, it was quite fun and neatly done. However, it hardly can be called a fair fight, as the player has an enormous health advantage. I suppose this was done so that the intro could end properly, and explains why my (deliberately forced) death returned only a standard 'you are dead' message. 

The writing is to the point, and as fast-paced as one should expect from an agent game. The plot still keeps much in the dark, I would have welcomed an additional room with some more information about the player's character, his mission or the enemy. With so little information it's hard to tell if the story will develop independently or become an agent thriller blockbuster kind of game. 

'Must Escape!' is a good game, but alas a little bit short. I'm not sure how well the combat system would work for a full game, but if the author continues the story and avoids the dangers of clichés, it has great potential. 

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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