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The Reluctant Resurrectee Reviews

Author: David Whyld
Date: 2007

Score: 4 Otters

Reviewed by Mathbrush

This game was influential on my own writing. In this game, you play as a disembodied eyeball which must solve various puzzles on a desk and on a fireplace mantel.

It's creative and its fun. However, I found the interactivity frustrating, and so I never completely engaged with the writing and the concept.


Review by Emily Boegheim 

You're an eyeball.

You're also the King, and expected to rule the kingdom despite your currently disabled condition.

That's the premise of The Reluctant Resurrectee, and while it's a well-written and humorous story, the implementation leaves something to be

As an eyeball, most normal actions are closed to you. You can't TAKE things, you can't PUSH or PULL them, and so on. You'd think this could lead to some interesting puzzles, but there are no great "Aha!" moments here. There are a few verbs you can use, not hard to figure out, and most of the game can be solved by trying these on every noun mentioned in every room description. Not that the puzzles are really bad; they're simply bland.

Not all the verbs you'd expect to be implemented are implemented, making an otherwise nice puzzle extremely irritating. And once something I expected (judging from the room description) to be one object was actually implemented as two, making it easy to miss an important clue.

It's very easy to lock yourself out of victory. It would have been a lot easier if it were not for a bug which allowed me to pass from the desk to the mantel and back again as often as I pleased. These kinds of limitations wouldn't be such a problem in a better-clued game, but are terribly inconvenient in The Reluctant Resurrectee.

Still, it's not all bad. The writing is good (apart from typos such as "mantle"): not laugh-out-loud funny, but smile-funny. There is a tendency toward text-dumping, especially at the end of the game, but the text-dumps are worth reading so I'm not complaining too much.

This could be a fun game. But at the moment, it needs a lot of work.

Score: 6

Reviewed by J. D. Clemens

This game is a sequel to "Back to Life... Unfortunately" (which I have played and found amusing). Here, though, the object is not to kill off the PC (as it was there), although you can die and get the same sort of responses. Doing this will lower your score, though, and can prevent an optimal ending. As a result I ended up undoing my deaths (although it is amusing to see how the environment changes after various deaths). But that isn't really the point here...

I enjoy playing unusual PC's and here the PC is an eyeball. This is handled reasonably well (although the lack of a body did seem to be drummed in a bit too much at the beginning), and leads to a number of novel approaches to puzzles. And this game is mostly about puzzles (which I like). For the most part the puzzles are reasonable and have sometimes amusing solutions. One thing that did irritate me a bit is that you have to pretty much examine everything to find some clues (and make sure to "read" as well as "examine"), and there was one place (in the hole) where two words which I initially took to be synonyms turned out be distinct things which needed to be examined separately.

I did get totally stuck at one point because I didn't know one of the necessary commands (rot13: ohzc). Maybe this was hinted somewhere that I missed, but the other eyeball-specific commands seemed to be clued pretty clearly.

I was let down a bit by the ending sequence, which involved reading a lot of conversation topics and making a few choices to decide the fate of the kingdom. A few of these you make explicitly (and need to use some hints found by examining everything earlier), but some of them are made for you automatically during during conversation nodes. Maybe this just illustrates the lack of utility of an eyeball...

There were a couple of parser problems (but many seem to have been anticipated); having to refer to "crumpled pieces of paper" took me a long time to realize. I also got a number of scoring messages at the end to the effect that my score had increased by a certain number of points to a total of 100 (I suspect this may be an ADRIFT issue due to the score being updated before any messages are printed or something).

Overall I enjoyed this a lot; it's light-hearted and the puzzles are interesting.

Score 8

Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

This is another of David Whyld's numerous games, so I guess it's not that surprising that this is another of my standard David Whyld reviews, subtype 2B (semi-humorous puzzle game review). I really do try to give each of his games a fair shot, but I'm not sure I have ever found one that really satisfied me. I used to think this was basically a series of coincidences, but I am starting to think it's a fundamental difference in taste about the kind of games we like (or at least the kind of game he likes to write and I like to play).

It's not the ADRIFT parser issues, although those are still mildly annoying here (when clearly a lot of effort has been spent to work around them). It's not the writing either — his sense of humour doesn't do much for me, but I can at least recognize it as humor and am okay with it in that sense. No, I think it's something more general about the game philosophy: he writes games like I have a week of free time to spend on them, and I play like I have fifteen minutes. This isn't specific to Whyld's games — I play everyone's game like that — but I think the philosophy clash is especially problematic here.

Like, shortly after the game starts up you find an instruction sheet. A magically-encoded instruction sheet. Decoding it requires solving multiple puzzles, and until you do, there's no real way to work out what the goal of the game is. Whereas I am the sort of guy who believes the player should have a goal to be working towards starting on the first turn of the game and should continue to have one every turn thereafter (even if it's not the same goal).

Or take the various markings hidden around that you have to collect. Finding secret whatsits is great as a puzzle for bonus points, but being required to scrutinize every single part of every single object makes me grumpy. Especially since most objects don't have the markings, so it's usually unrewarding. But I'd guess Whyld thinks this kind of aimless exploration is great and an end in itself — there are all sorts of places in the game that require doing the same action over and over again, sometimes with no obvious encouragement, and multiple easter eggs to reward the people with the persistence to try doing everything to everything.

On the other hand, I am interested in story and puzzles and general game structure, and so some things that presumably don't bug him at all stick out a mile for me. Like there's a bit at the end where Whyld mixes up the southern barbarians and the eastern plainsmen, the difference between which I'd carefully noted because I was sure it had to be significant. Or that the author's note asserts the game can't be made unwinnable — while that may be technically true (though I have my doubts), it's also true that it's easy to lock yourself out of the good endings and, in fact, lock yourself out of being able to understand much of anything about the endings at all.

So, yeah, another of this kind of review about this kind of game. I do give points for the chutzpah involved in the situation of the PC, though (and it is probably especially funny to people who played the game this is a sequel to). And hey, no inventory puzzles.

Reviewed by Emily Short

David Whyld is an extremely prolific author, so while I’ve probably played five or six of his games at this point, this makes up only a small portion of the large total. I have mixed feelings about the ones I have played. Whyld writes in ADRIFT, and while the ADRIFT community is always indignant about the way the rest of the IF community regards their authorship system of choice, the fact remains: there are annoying problems that occur in just about every ADRIFT game ever written, because of the way the parser is implemented. Variant names of objects are often not recognized, or not recognized in every context. Whyld is an experienced author and usually does a pretty good job of dealing with these sorts of problems, but I still ran into a few cases (the crumpled pieces of paper, in particular) where the game claimed objects weren’t present when they clearly were, or where commands didn’t work as they ought to have done.

I also haven’t played the game to which this is a sequel.

Finally, I don’t always entirely match Whyld’s sense of humour: sometimes it works for me, and sometimes it just feels slack or overdone, or relies too heavily on a kind of general sarcasm without many really witty lines. I’ve quit a few of his recent entries in other competitions because, within the first few moves, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for the narrator’s attitude.

So I started this up with mixed expectations. The introductory menu didn’t entirely comfort me, either: there is a lot to read here: backstory, prologue text, about-the-game stuff. Some of it I felt was almost spoilery, and I would rather have been allowed to discover it as the course of the game progressed. 

Still, I think this may well be my favourite Whyld game. 

The problems I generally have with ADRIFT were kept to a minimum, and though I couldn’t find a way to make the game display graphics, it otherwise played nicely with Spatterlight, my MacOSX interpreter of choice. 

Whyld makes good puzzle use of the main character’s physical limitations. This is something that has been explored before in IF — making the player into an animal, a small child, a ghost or spirit unable to touch things, or even [most extremely, and usually as a joke] an inanimate object — but he chose an interesting form here and developed it into a number of semi-plausible puzzles. There were several unique commands for this game, which I enjoyed experimenting with (though I wish that he had taken JUMP as a synonym for BOUNCE, or at least indicated when one tried JUMPing that BOUNCE might be a sensible alternative). I found a few of the puzzles to be too hard for me, but fortunately I was able to ferret the answers out of a hint thread on rec.games.int-fiction. I might slightly have preferred a built-in hint system like the one in “Fate”, but I know from experience how much of a pain that can be for the author, especially when you’re dealing with a game with multiple possible goals or endings. On the whole, Whyld makes the most of a contained geography, gets the player to think in new ways about what he can do with his limited agility and strength, and thus provides a play/exploration experience that is quite entertaining. 

The humour is sometimes overplayed, particularly when it comes to the characterizations; Whyld is a big fan of comic exaggeration, and will build an NPC around a single flaw, quirk, or character note. This is a perfectly valid technique, but often the exaggerations he comes up with are just too heavy-handed to seem funny, or he works the same joke too hard. The king’s thickwitted Protector and effeminate son fell a bit into these categories. Lord Verenor is a little better developed; the excuses he finds to execute more people are sometimes entertainingly inventive. And I did enjoy some of the narrator’s internal monologue, especially when it wasn’t restricted to painfully obvious variations on “gosh, it’s hard to do stuff when you’re an eyeball”.

There were some mechanical flaws. Most notably, Whyld apparently assumed that the player would read the primer quite early on in play: I think I locked myself out of ever actually reading the five scrolls because I visited the mantle and knocked them to the floor before I was able to read them. And the RECALL verb didn’t work, even though I was seeing messages that the game claimed I would be able to RECALL later, until I had read the primer. These glitches were a bit frustrating, and several times I wondered whether, despite the reassurances of the opening screen, I had somehow put the game into an unwinnable state. But it did come through all right.

Finally, I think I ran into a bug at the very end of the game, when it came time to tot up my final score. I had, I think, gotten most things right, and I reached a total of 80 partway through the calculation. Then I was told that additional points were being added, but the sum remained at 80. So my true score should have been more like 85 or 90, I think, but I didn’t get credit!

So: mixed feelings about the humour and technical execution, though these came out more positive than negative; I did like the puzzle design and pacing, for the most part. As to the story, it was a light-hearted wrapper for the game and nothing more, and to that end, it functioned just fine.

Reviewed By Lumin

David Whyld's 'The Reluctant Resurrectee' took second place in the 2007 Spring Thing, and is the sequel to an earlier, smaller work, 'Back to Life...Unfortunately'. While you don't have to play that to enjoy this one, it was plenty of fun in its own right and so I recommend it as well. 

When I played the first game I remember thinking how original the puzzles were (as a king who keeps getting resurrected against your will so that you can continue ruling, the goal was to kill yourself in various amusingly inventive ways until you could no longer be brought back), but 
even that pales in comparison to the premise behind TRR, which takes 'non-human protagonist' to a whole nother level. 

You're...um, unique form makes the traditional means of exploring a bit difficult, so the first order of business is learning some other ways to get around, preferably without dying. Unlike the first game, death is something you want to try and avoid here, though it doesn't end the game or 
anything; the ever helpful Chancellor Verenor is still faithfully by your (figurative) side whether you want him there or not. 

This time instead of trying to escape your problems by (re)dying, you have no choice but to man up and resolve a host of serious threats facing your kingdom, the reason you were brought back in the first place. 

While there are a couple of other areas you can access, the majority of the game takes place at...er, on your desk, and there are a variety of clever puzzles that involve you trying to manipulate everyday objects, collect information and just generally get around. Eventually there's also a way to summon and communicate with a few of your subjects, though this was part of a set of puzzles that I personally found a little difficult. (Then again sometimes my brain just doesn't get puzzles in general.) 

However, once I got past that little snag, the ending was plenty satisfying, and nicely paved the way for the sequel. 

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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