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Happy Valley Reviews

Author: Lumin
Date: 2008

Reviewed by OtisTDog

I found myself with a few free minutes this evening and thought I'd try the latest on IFDB. I ended up spending at least an hour with this game, which was surprisingly engaging.

The genre claimed for this work is "fantasy", but it's more comedy than anything else. It has a chattery, bantering tone that did a lot to endear this game to me, and did so quickly -- which is important because I very nearly quit after the first move. (Let's just say the command "read sign" did not produce a very promising result.) The text is frequently silly, but it only crosses the line into *too* silly once or twice. It made me chuckle on a few occasions.

The game proclaims itself as geared for a novice, and it mostly lives up to the promise. Puzzles are not difficult in terms of a thinking challenge; they are immediately recognizable as the "insert tab A into slot B" type of artificial roadblocks that litter both IF and other role-playing games. This is frequently reinforced by the fact that, in many cases, uses for objects are strongly suggested in their descriptions, often with comic effect.

Some puzzles were difficult, however, in terms of implementation choices. Object implementation is fairly rich -- perhaps too rich in some places.(Spoiler - click to show)At least one critical object is only discoverable after examining a seemingly-already-adequately-described scenery object in the first room... and then examining something mentioned in that object's description. This seemed like an artifact of the programmer having some fun, and it was not in keeping with the description style of the rest of the game. On the other hand, conversations were implemented so sparsely that they barely existed. If you don't hit on certain keywords, the NPCs issue only unmodified default responses.(Spoiler - click to show)This was particularly frustrating in dealing with the first NPCs I encountered, outside the mines. They did not react to keywords based on the nouns in the area, and for several minutes talking to the foreman gnome got nothing but "no response" results. I eventually went back and read what he first says and found that keywords there get real replies. After that, conversations went more smoothly.

Fortunately, the author includes a walkthrough, but, unfortunately, it is in the form of a series of commands to win the game a certain way. A better hint system would have been nice, since I did find myself consulting the walkthrough at one point (see first spoiler above), and in doing so, I inadvertently saw the solution for another.

All in all, I liked this game, but I think it needs significantly more polish before it can be considered complete as an introductory piece of IF. A real novice would probably have been confused and frustrated by the numerous small bugs and issues I encountered, and anyone turning to the walkthrough for help would have a lot of potential fun ruined.

Keep an eye out for future work from this author. There's definitely potential here.


Reviewed by Dannymac247

I enjoyed the concept of this game VERY much, it was laugh out loud funny at parts and the once it was clear what I was trying to accomplish the path to the win was very interesting.

The game could still use some polish, however. An entire room is invisible unless one choses, on a lark, to try walking in an unlabeled direction. Another puzzle involves a box that never appears in the room even after it is supposedly triggered, though it doesn't need to in order to solve its puzzle.

Despite these bugs, the game is fun, the concept is great, and there is a feel good ending. Fun stuff.

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