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Tears of a Tough Man Reviews
Author: Bruce Humphrey
Date: 2004

Reviewed by Andy Devil

Tears of a Tough Man by Bruce Humphrey is a short mystery murder memento game in which you are meant to restore your main character's memory by wandering around and triggering his recollection by doing various things. What might sound interesting is held back dramatically by writer's inexperience and ineptitude.

In a forum post, the author stated that he planned to implement multiple features missing from the final version but couldn't (for some reason) - it shows. (e.g. multiple endings) Grammar and spelling errors, whilst not overabundant, distract. Some of the puzzles are made unneededly tedious by poor syntax and logic. The in-game environment feels unnaturally constructed to the point of being ridiculous. Likewise, quest-important items just happen to be lying around in your path. The ending  (if you'd like to try this out, the point you're likely to miss is "x stains") does not really reveal or conclude anything.

To sum things up, Tears of a Tough Man is an author's debut work that does show some promise but in its ineptness cannot be salvaged even by mending and polishing.



Reviewed by David Whyld

This was originally to be entered in the time-limited comp but seeing as no other entries were forthcoming it was moved to the size-limited comp instead. Pity. In a comp in which it was the only entry it would might have won by default; in a comp with other games it’s sure to fare poorly.

“Tears of a Tough Man” – strange name for a game. But then a strange game as well. It features the intro and ending lines that were a requirement for the time-limited comp but it has them in such a way that it’s as the rest of the game was written first and then the lines added to meet the comp requirements. The start one could, at a pinch, be said to fit the storyline but the end seems to have been tacked on as an after thought. I didn’t really think the requirements for the time-limited comp were hard to meet but it seems that maybe they weren’t as easy as I thought. Well, I didn’t manage to enter a game in this category myself so I don’t suppose I should be the one pointing the finger…There were good and bad points to this game, although rather too many of the latter for my liking. One of the things you'll notice when you’ve been playing it for more than a few minutes is that it has a very rushed feel to it, and it suffers quite badly as a result. Little attempt seems to have been made to put a cohesive story together here and the whole thing is one confusing mess of real time play and flashbacks that don’t so much illuminate the story as confuse it still further. If there was ever a game which shouldn’t have been rushed to get it finished in time, it was this one.

On the plus side, it had lengthy descriptive text in several places which was reasonably well written and suggests that, while this game might not have been much to write home about itself, the author might achieve far better results in future if he makes more of an effort. On the down side, the actual location descriptions were minimal at best and contained no depth. Strange that such effort had been taken on one aspect of the game and yet was clearly absent from another, perhaps more important aspect.

Bugs? There were quite a few. The most glaring was the old tree I stumbled across in the forest which I was then able to pick up. Pick up an entire tree? Yep. Clearly I'm not only a tough man, I'm also a very strong one. Unfortunately, picking up the tree leads to problems of its own as you need to chop it up in the game to progress to the later parts and if you happen to pick it up or move it then you're told you can’t chop it and the game quickly grinds to a halt.

Puzzles? A few, but nothing worth writing home about. Most are of guess the verb sort and rely on trying one non-obvious command after another until something works. In theory anyway. I got fed up partway through and just looked in the Generator.

There were minor bugs in other places, not to mention a little guess the verb with the totem (‘destroy’ works but nothing else. Why not ‘smash’ or ‘break’?) The shack problems took some patience to figure out get through and the game’s its annoying habit of telling me I didn’t have anything to make a canoe when I didn’t even know I needed to make a canoe got a bit wearing. Why I would even need a canoe was never explained. Surely a man strong enough to pick up a tree could cross a river without the need for a canoe?

Puzzles? A few, but nothing worth writing home about. Most are of guess the verb sort and rely on trying one non-obvious command after another until something works. In theory anyway. I got fed up partway through and just looked in the Generator.

Problems? It’s the sort of game where the items you need to finish it are very conveniently lying around for you to find. A couple need to be made from other items but even these are so easy to get you might as well just start the game with them in your possession. Back in the days of Zork, having all the items you need lying around might have seemed like a good idea but things have moved on since then.

All in all, parts of the game were good but too many parts were bad with the bad parts outnumbering the good parts by a large margin. Re-written as a full size game with fully fleshed out locations, bugs fixing and a little logic applied this might be worthwhile. But in its current format it’s just disappointing.

3 out of 10 

Reviewed by Eric Mayer

Consider the location limited portion of the competition. Bruce Humphrey's TEARS OF A TOUGH MAN was the least accomplished game, I thought. (Note though that Bruce wrote the game in a limited time, for that section of the competition, which had no other entries, and so worked with a huge handicap) But even though the game was understandably short and sparse, the premise intrigued me and kept me interested, as far as I got: The last entry in your diary made you cry but, weirdly, you can't remember what it was or manage to turn to the page. You need to know what's on that last page. 

Reviewed by Woodfish

This is the first game I played of KF's Summer 2004 Minicomp - I thought I'd work my way up from the lowest filesize. The Minicomp this year had three divisions, and this game was written for the timed section - its criteria being that it must make use of specified opening and closing lines, and a 'fire extinguisher' object. 

Now, these criteria put me right off entering a game of my own into this section - I seriously couldn't see myself wanting to write a game which had the closing line "Suddenly the world seems a brighter place, and you feel there is a good reason to carry on". It just seems too cliche and complete. I was seriously dubious about the games entered into this category. 

And now it seems I was correct in my suspicions - timed criteria aside, Tears of a Tough Man, is a seriously flawed game which I found to be greatly disspointing from one of the forum's recently active drifters. 

Tears of a Tough Man's take on the given opening line is to have the player as the author of the diary. This in itself seems a bit contrived to fit in with the wording. We then find out, during the course of the game, that the player has been accused of murder. And I am a bit confused about the rest. Bear in mind that as I type this, I have just finished playing the game, so its events should be fresh in my mind. But the game was so hard to make sense of - its storyline being revealed in fragmented chunks that adds to confusion already piled high with rambling diary entries which are close to incomprehensible - that I am honestly not sure what it was all about. 

The actual gameplay does nothing to improve matters. The game consists of simple, generic "get object, do X with object" puzzles, unimaginative locations, and the usual case of handy objects lying about vital to the puzzles, and ONLY THOSE VITAL objects. Here's an example of a puzzle (spoilers abound). A length of rope and a piece of rope just happen to be lying on the ground as you come close to a pit which you have to scale down. Now I find myself in front of the pit. I can't see anything to tie the rope to. I try to tie the iron to the hook but it won't let me... I check the hints, and it says to bend the iron to make a hook (bear in mind the game gives no indication that you might need to hook the rope onto anything). So logically, I try to "bend hook". It won't let me. I try several various variations, and after some problems and walking about and looking in the generator, I see I need to "work iron" in the garden shed. So I now have a hook, and I try lots of variations on "tie hook to rope" but it still won't let me do it! By this point, I'm getting tired, so I look in the generator on final time, and see I need to type "tie rope to hook", not "tie hook to rope". Once this is done, just by holding it (not hooking it onto anything) I can manage to descend into the pit (where, to top it all off, a fire extinguisher is randomly waiting for me to put out a fire nearby). It's that kind of game, unfortunately. 

After these kind of puzzles - another one involved a tree which although being dynamic and free to move about (the player really must be a tough man) can only be cut with an axe in one location, then used to make a canoe - the game is then damaged even further by lack of object and task implementation, and severe GTV as I have mentioned already. 

The author (I am almost certain) is Spanish, but his English is actually quite good - there are few spelling errors, but a couple of grammatical ones. The writing has to be the best feature of this game - I'm not saying its good, but its passable. Okay, I'm being too harsh, the game is "passable", just not that good. The writing is often jumbled and ugly, but at times, it's pleasant. 

This game is unconventional in the fact that it doesn't have a single winning command. The game only ends once you have read all the pages of your diary, measured by a nifty meter at the bottom of the Runner. Another interesting feature is the Karma-meter at the bottom, which just seems to be an alternate scoring method. 

All in all, Tears of a Tough Man is not a terrible game. But it's not a good game. GTV, uninspiring puzzles, a confusing story, plain writing, and lack of interaction all add up to something which can't really contend in a competition such as this. I've heard the author say that he is aware this game isn't too good, but with comments, maybe he can improve it. My advice is DON'T. Spend your time on a better game, I think this one is a lost cause. 

Sorry if this seemed harsh, but it's what I thought of the game. Hopefully the other entries will be better. 


Reviewed by David Welbourn (11 Nov 2005)

It's not easy being a tough brute of a man. Everyone, including yourself, sees you as a monster. And when terrible things happen, you forget exactly what happened or what you did.

Fortunately, you're the sort of tough man who keeps a diary. If only you could read it, you might be able to come to terms with the horrible truth. You must hope that looking around and examining what you find will break down your inner barriers and let you read more of your diary. You must find out the truth.

Guess-the-Verb: EXTINGUISH

Rating: ***

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