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Terrified Reviews 

Author: Richard Otter (as Eric T. Dorrath)
Date: 2007

Reviewed by Shuarian (Stefan Donati)

Terrified by Eric T. Dorrath was written along the rules of the National ADRIFT Writing Month, i.e. the game was created during the period of one month. It describes itself as a traditional text adventure, which is a fitting term for the style of playing the game offers.

After a short intro, the player finds himself alone on a road. Examining the player character reveals that his clothes are covered in blood, as is the knife he is carrying. Thus it seems only sensitive to avoid the mob and police which both are searching the streets. Through small flashbacks the background story gets unveiled (I won't spoil it here). Being in the role of a criminal, the player has to dispose and eliminate all evidence which links himself to the crime. If stuck, a custom hint system is there to provide the player with helping clues.

All in all, the game succeeds at being a traditional text adventure. The writing is good, the puzzles are straightforward and the progress is well paced. Being the first game by Eric T. Dorrath (as far as I'm aware) it also deserves credit for being apparently solidly tested, as the game is almost bug free.

After finishing the game, I was well satisfied with it. Yet I feel the game could still be improved - some interaction with NPCs and a more fleshed out background story would have been nice, as would have been more detailed object descriptions. Also, the game is rather short, probably due to the limited time available for writing it.

I am, however, willing to forgive these missing points. In fact, I think the game is a good indicator of what one can reasonably expect from a game written in such a short period of time.


* That would be a 7 were the object descriptions a bit more vivid.

My thoughts on some specific points (with spoilers) or how to improve the game further

* An introduction screen would have been nice.

* As would have been a longer introduction. The current one reads well, but doesn't give much information. Also, the first line reads oddly poetic, will the rest of the introduction sounds normal.

* The flashbacks could have been more fleshed out - i.e. give more information on the involved persons, detail the action more.

* Adding to the above point, I found it odd how the crime itself seems to leave the player character unaffected - thus, in my imagination, the player character slowly became a cold murderer with no remorse.

* I liked the puzzles, they were all straightforward.  What I liked was the fact that there is almost no set order in which they must be completed. For example, I solved the puzzle with the rag and the brick only later on during the game.

* The description of objects or items are too often just repetitions of the description already given in the general room descriptions.

* Also, in some places, examining objects returns a 'Just scenery.' message.

* Trying to smash the window of the hut results in 'you might need that window'. Yet I was able to smash another window this way, and for entering the hut, the player actually has to smash the door.

* I really like the custom hint system. In the location 'the yard', the answer could have been a bit more elaborate (currently it just says 'nice washing').

* I understand that adding some NPCs might be tricky, given the appearance of the PC. Yet this could have been done later on, for example during an interrogation with the police, or when the player meets other people after he has changed clothes.

* Small oversee: It is mentioned (x blood) that the player's hands and arms are also covered in blood. Yet in order to win the game, it is not needed to somehow wash that blood away. Surely the police would notice the blood on your hands?

Reviewed By David Whyld (InsideAdrift March/April 2007 Issue 34)

The sole entry to the aborted NaAdWriMon (National ADRIFT Writing Month) competition I organised, Terrified is a very retro game. Which is good and bad in equal parts. Good because it reminds me quite a bit of the games I played as a teenager, and any game that brings back fond nostalgic memories tends to go down well with me. Bad because it has a good number of the flaws which plagued a lot of the text adventures from the retro age.

The game begins with little introduction. You’ve been running, you’ve paused because you're out of breath and, somewhere in the distance, there's a mob after you. Why are you being chased? The answer isn't revealed until later in the game and certainly wasn’t one I had expected. I think I expected the mob to be a force of evil and the player to be a good guy wrongly chased by them. Boy, was I wrong there…

At times, this is a very unfair game. The player can die without warning and it’s very easy to unwittingly go the wrong way and put yourself in a position from which every move leads to your imminent demise. Fortunately, ADRIFT’s standard end game sequence is overridden here, allowing the player the option of UNDOing his last move. In a game where death awaits you around every corner, in the most literal sense, this comes in very 
handy indeed. Quite a few of its puzzles are of the variety that you'll only solve by blundering into them unawares, dying, and then realising next time round that you need to be more careful… so if you're someone who dislikes dying in games without warning, or likes their games to play fair, this isn't the game for you. More often than not, you'll only discover something you need to do after you’ve died.

Another common theme from the retro period is that most of the items needed to finish the game are lying around conveniently waiting for you to come along and pick them up. This doesn’t really do wonders for the game’s realism but I suppose it means that they’re easier to find this way.

Quite a few guess the verb problems let the game down on the whole. There are several occasions where a certain command will only work in a certain location – try it anywhere else and you get ADRIFT’s standard error message. The same error message it churns out whenever you try a command it doesn’t understand. So if you tried the command in the wrong location, saw the game didn’t understand it, it’s likely you wouldn’t think to try it anywhere else. At other times, tasks that ideally should have more than one way of being accomplished don’t work and the precise wording needs to be used. For example, there's a bonfire where you need to burn some evidence. BURN {ITEM} works but attempts to PUT or THROW the items onto the fire doesn’t. Likewise, attempts to burn any item that isn't required to be burnt just hits you with an error message. The first time I tried to burn something, it turned out to be the wrong item and when I saw the error message I assumed (wrongly) that I couldn’t burn anything.

Not a bad game overall, and the constant deaths are frustrating, but it might pass the time if you’ve half an hour to spare and have a fondness for the retro scene.

4 out of 10

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