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Neighbours from Hell Reviews
Author: David Whyld
Date: 2004

Reviewed by Cannibal

If you play Adrift games then there is a fair chance the lion's share of those adventures will be penned by David W. If you think his brand of humour and mimesis-breaking style is not to your taste then you will often miss out on a cracking selection of games. 

Neighbours From Hell opens with the simple plot of you living next door to the Crumms. They are the worse neighbours in the world. In fact, they are even worse than that. Having suspected that they are responsible for murdering another set of neighbours you decide to employ a few amateur detective skills and try to find enough evidence to take to the police. 

Within a few moves I was able to locate a number of objects (including a nose and an ear!) which led me to conclude that I might not be looking to collect evidence against the Crumms as just to collect body parts instead. As with other David W adventure's the discovery of said body parts is delivered in typical humorous fashion. I also found early on that I had plenty to examine and search in order to discover hidden items and further body parts. Try it! You need to look under things as well. There is quite a wealth of items to search for. Everything I tried seemed to have at least 1 level of description. I tend not to go beyond that. Perhaps the author forgot to describe minute particles of grime but so what - it won't effect the game. 

There was a puzzle - this is quite early in the game so can hardly be considered a major spoiler - where an object is concealed in a hole brimming with murky water. I was able to retrieve the object by using a pole which I found hard to believe (until I examined the pole and realised how I was able to snag the object on it). My most hated verb "use" reared its head at this point - "use pole" - and I couldn't find an alternative - "search hole with pole" for example. The main reason I despise the verb "use" is that it tends to be the one I turn to when I can't think of any other verb to try. I wonder if other players feel that way about it. 

There is a nice trick later in the game - something I employ on a regular basis in all my unreleased works - where examining something once (a static object, in this instance) leads to the discovery of an item. So, the player is happy and off he goes to use the item somewhere else not stopping to think there might be a second item hidden. This is another form of a puzzle the IF author can use. It's akin to when a player enters a location and spots an object he generally believes that is the purpose of the location (to hold the object) and then moves on to the next part of the game (forgetting to go deeper into the location to see what else it might hold). Equally, if you search an area once, you tend to thing you have found everything. I missed the second search and was puzzled for quite a time until I realised there was a clue in the initial search to try a second time. 

So, back to the plot, how many body parts do I have now??? 

I nailed the Crumms in the end (they don't actually feature in the game) which is a shame because I never actually felt they would turn up (bob the dog is an amusing sequence) and this would have increased a bit of tension (perhaps a series of random events or someone even knocking at the door or one of the Crumms returning having forgotten something). It could have added an extra twist that I wouldn't have seen coming. 

Overall, I found Neighbours From Hell an enjoyable and pleasing outing with decent descriptions and enough puzzles set at the right complexity level. The game doesn't take itself too serious - surprise, surprise - but it is not as madcap as other DavidW affairs - the humour is delivered at a steady pace. It could have benefited from an additional twist or two near the end (one of the Crumms returning, perhaps) and I don't like the exits displayed as they were (i.e. Exits are north, south and west). That aside no real grumbles. 

Strangely, when playing this, I kept getting a very strong retro feel about it which is probably the way I would sum up the David W catalogue (a kind of retro text adventure meet new IF). 

As a footnote, this game is also available for Quest. 



Reviewed by Eric Mayer

This explore the weird house game is hilarious but explaining would give too much away. It is a puzzle fest and there are different levels, not only of losing but winning, so it is replayable. The amount of gameplay packed into 15 kb is remarkable. Take a look at the unpassworded .taf file. Strikes me as a wonderful example, especially for the concise construction of tasks in Adrift. Definitely taught me something. 

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