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The Hole Reviews
Author: Eric Schramm
Date: 2004

Reviewed by David Whyld (InsideAdrift 31)

Okay, I'm aware this is a game by a newcomer but even so, faced with that kind of blurb describing the game I'm not inspired to play it. A blurb is generally the first thing a potential player sees of a game. It ought to grip the playerís attention, make them want to play it, not indicate that a) itís your first game, b) several improvements are in the works (which doesnít say a lot about this version) and c) makes you sound like you're apologising in advance for the game.

Shelter actually revolves around you moving into a new house and finding a hole in the garage. For some reason that I never really grasped, the player thinks there's something decidedly untoward about this hole and immediately contacts the realtor to complain about it. Then you contact the previous owner of the house. Then you set about finding out who they bought the house from. Why? Is a hole in your garage really that big a deal? Granted, if the hole was so big your garage was likely to collapse into it I could understand your concern, but this seems to be nothing more sinister than a normal every day hole.

Anyway, you set out to investigate this hole. Or try to anywayÖ

I got stuck right at the start of the game. I was in the garage, I had a rope, there was the hole, but that was about as much progress as I could make. I couldnít leave as apparently there werenít any exits. I could examine a few items (though a good number of what I could see wasnít described and just hit me with ADRIFTís default response for whenever you try to examine an item that the author hasnít covered), and of the four hints available none were the slightest help to me. Some referred to items I hadnít discovered yet and puzzles I wasnít even aware of (a common problem with ADRIFTís built in help menu). In despair, I turned to that old chestnut: cheating. And thatís when I discovered that there was actually an item in the garage that wasnít mentioned anywhere in the room description. As this was an item necessary to get anywhere in the game, I'm not sure how anyone was expected to make any progress here. How were they even supposed to figure out it was there in the first place?

My problems didnít end there. Once Iíd taken a look at the item that was mysteriously there and yet not there, I discovered Iíd gained a couple of items. Neither of which I managed to find any use for. Cheating yet again provided me with the means to get a bit further. Unfortunately, this was along the same lines as the last time I got stuck: another item that I needed to make use of wasnít mentioned anywhere. Heck, even when I knew it was there and even when I'd used it, the game still wouldnít acknowledge it was there.

That was as far as I could make myself play the game. Sorry, I understand itís a first effort but this game isn't even playable. Items necessary to progress the storyline arenít mentioned anywhere and the only way to actually beat the game seems to be by cheating. Makes the whole point of playing it kind ofÖ pointless.

As well as all the other negative aspects of the game, the spelling and grammar definitely needed some work. While the text wasnít so riddled with typos as to make it unreadable, there were certainly more than should have been caught by even a brief proofread. Sometimes two sets of dialogue by different characters would be on the same length which didnít help matters either.

My advice: take the game down, fix the problems with it, turn it into a full size game (6 KB is smaller than most of the games in the recent Three Hour Game Competition, and just two rooms shows a distinct lack of effort), come up with a decent blurb for the game, get it tested, and then re-release it.

1 out of 10

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