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The Test Reviews
Author: Matt (Dark Baron)
Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz
This is the game you would expect someone signing themselves "Matt, Dark Baron" to write, only much, much worse. Nevertheless, I have a certain affection for it, if only for the fact that it starts out with you sitting bored in maths (not math class — this is British) class only to discover: your maths professor is actually a time lord!! Just as you always suspected!! Then it goes pretty much directly into a series of thinly-linked puzzles that are stolen from other games, require you to solve a math problem (no doubt one just learned in maths class only minutes before!!), and/or are annoying. The prize for Most Annoying Puzzle Ever In The Entire World Including Anything You Can Name From a Phoenix Game goes to this game, for a puzzle that requires you to listen to a badly-recorded MIDI file of beepings in morse code and translate those (using the helpfully-provided chart) into letters. This is so unimaginably painful, all I can say is, it's a good thing the author didn't password-protect the game so you could pull it up in the editor and see what the command is. Anyway, um, Peter Berman is probably stunned by the brilliance and artistry of this game, but everyone else should probably give it a miss.
Reviewed by Matthew Clemson
It's Adrift. I had a bad time with the Adrift game I played last year, so I'm pleased to report that this is somewhat better, although still not a top-rank game. It's basically a linear string of vaguely maths-or-english based puzzles, plus one or two purely adventure ones (The first three puzzles mainly); not too tough, as puzzles go, but an interesting diversion. Spelling is on the whole poor, but the coding is reasonable; I encountered no major bugs or parser problems, although that might be because the game didn't stretch the parser much; most of the puzzles were trying a command which you get from deciphering a code, or explicitly told you what commands to use ("ring", for instance). Just once or twice I had problems (A decoded message said "say 'word'"; typing "say 'word'" didn't work, only "'word'" alone did). Nevertheless, as I said, the parser did what I needed it to do, on the whole.
I did encounter one fatal interpreter-crashing bug, but I'm not convinced that's not the fault of the interpreter rather than the programmer (Out of stack space).
Throughout the game it adopts a conversational style in addressing the player; and throughout I was never quite sure if I liked it. Sometimes it gelled, sometimes it jarred (I didn't particularly like the response to "ring 911" on the phone, despite being British).
The hints were used at times to inform the player; for instance, how to use the calculator. This apparently carries a points penalty in Adrift, so it seemed a little unfair that the player *had* to make use of them.
A word must, however, be said about the familiarity of the puzzles in the game; I recognised at least two from British educational adventures (Specifically the telephone puzzle came from L, and the Robot Guards act like the Triangular Men from Martello Tower while sharing their name with the Drogo Robot Guards found in L again). I feel I ought to dock a mark for that. It might just be a coincidence, but it's an impressive one if that's so.
The Comp01 blurb for The Test includes the following words of warning:
Warning: This game is hard and requires large amount of thinking power, do not attempt if you expect to complete it in 5 minutes. Hints are available, and for the faint hearted a walk through.
Warnings like this are a big red flag for me (even when they aren't run-on sentences), because they very frequently lead to games whose puzzles require authorial telepathy to solve. In addition, they carry a most unwelcome undertone of condescension, as if the author is sneering, Wile E. Coyote style, "Who among you has the brainpower to solve a game created by such a Sooper Genius as myself?" This implication of superior intelligence is especially hard to credit when the very sentences that express it are improperly punctuated and lack crucial articles ("requires large amount"?). So I went into The Test with my hackles raised, and my expectations low.
But, whoa! Apparently they were not anywhere near low enough. I don't mean to be harsh, but this game is just awful. The writing alone is enough to sink the game by itself. A sample room description:
You don't want to be here unless running on conveir belts is your kind of thing. You're in some kind of factory, in a think passage way standing on a conveyer belt, which is going backwards into a big machine which crushes stuff between gigantic steel teeth.
Okay, first of all: "conveyer"; "gigantic". Game, meet Dictionary. Dictionary, meet Game. Second of all, "a think passage way"? What the hell is that? There are some things even spell check can't save. Finally, how about mentioning some of the crucial items in the room? Like, say, maybe the exit door.
As it turns out, the puzzles don't so much require authorial telepathy as they demand an almost insatiable appetite for tedium. The solution to one combination lock puzzle requires that the player try every number, starting from 1, in sequence and try to observe a pattern in the lock's reactions. Oh yeah, sounds like fun. And they get worse from there. I can't think what would motivate someone to even attempt the game's last puzzle -- what possible reward could it have to offer? Maybe that's what the title really refers to -- it's a test of just how much you can put up with before you quit. I hope I passed, but I have a feeling most other judges will have caught on much quicker than I did.
Reviewed by MathBrush
This game uses the Adrift parser, which is inherently problematic.
It is a sequence of small rooms with really unclear puzzles, including a sound puzzle. The puzzles are really irritating.
However, this game did not come last in the competition. It's possible that hardcore puzzle fans may enjoy this game.
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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