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A Witch Tale Reviews

Author: Dan Blazquez
Date: 2008

Reviewed by Abbi Park

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?
I thought it would be kind of a fairy tale.  'Twas.  I really liked how the game's title looked on the intro screen.

2. How did the author do within the restrictions?
Wonderfully.  One (at least one) of the events was there just to fill space, but that was fine.

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?
Good.  The puzzles were straightforward, and moved the story along.  It worked perfectly.

4. What did you like best about the game?
It was fun.  I liked the writing style a lot.

5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?
The tense kept shifting.  It's fine to switch between acting like it's the present and like you're telling a tale of the past, but it would be better to add in clearer breaks between them so that it's not like:  I'm sweeping the floor to clean up my mess.  That's what I have to do when I make messes.  Little did I know that my fairy godmother would appear later that night.  (Of course the writing style wasn't bland like that)  I would have appreciated a different message when objects weren't described, as well.  It shouldn't confuse the player character to be asked to describe something when the object is right in front of them.

6. What stood out most to you from/about this game?
Nice lightly humorous tone.  Painted colorful pictures.

7. How did this game compare with the others in the competition and/or what set it apart?
Most simple (in a good way) story-type game.  It was simply enjoyable.

Any other comments?
Fun game.

Reviewed by revgiblet

Harriet Potter and the Restricted Game Comp.

AWARD:  The "Most CHARMING Game" Award

Is it just me or did anyone else think "Harry Potter" while they were playing this?  I mean, a girl with an unusual identifying feature suddenly finds out that she's from a family of Witches when a mysterious old stranger arrives into her life?  Come on.  It can't just be me.  And those Skitterlings, they seem to have been filtered directly through the mind of JK Rowling.  Surely someone agrees with me.  Surely?

But none of that matters really, because I'll just come out and say that I thought that this was something of a special game.  'Special' might be too pretentious a term to use about IF, so here's another word to use. Charming.  It's a charming game.  Well, that one might sound just a bit too patronising, but I can't help it.  The game is just so...charming.  There was something magical about it.  It made me feel a bit like a child again, and if that isn't magical then I don't know what is.  I could feel the inane grin on my face as I played.  I could feel myself having fun.

I admit, that I was a bit underwhelmed when I first began playing.  The simple title page was a nice touch, but the opening 'puzzle'/dialogue neither grabbed or entertained me.  In fact, it seemed superfluous.  It almost felt as if...as if the author had thrown it in to meet some task/event requirement imposed on him from an invisible but omnipotent source.  Surely not?  But don't worry about that.  The game really starts in the forest, and that is also where the magic starts.

It's hard for me to identify why I enjoyed this game so much.  I think the individual components are so strong that when you put them together the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  The 'rite of passage' story isn't unique, but the twist at the end is rather...here's that word again...charming.  The employment of text formatting to identify items that you can interact with was an inspired idea in a game where the restrictions limit the player's involvement with the world, and the use of this in the game's puzzles was also excellent (Though I must confess that one of the puzzles asks you to say the three words that are identified as being different, but the total number of words that you are looking for is actually five).  The characters are classic fairy tale, but no-less endearing for it.  In other words, this game was a pleasure to play.

This was the first game that I played, and this was also the game that made me realise that the restrictions of the competition were not going to hinder the authors as much as I thought that they might.  I was quite surprised at the amount of game that had been fit into the limited framework.  This was something that would continue to amaze me as I played all of the entries.

What else can I say?  I think that a little part of me had fallen in love with this game by the time I sat down to write this review.  Despite the fact that every other game idea that pops into my head could usually be filed under the genre "Horror", I'm something of a romantic at heart.  This game bypassed my need for Zombie Ninja Pirates and plugged straight into the part of my brain that responded to The Emperor's New Groove.  So, once more for luck.  This game is utterly, utterly charming.

Reviewed by Lumin

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?

I was completely won over by the character before I'd even gotten to the second paragraph of the intro. The opening was just wonderfully...well I think revgiblet summed it up best, it was charming, and I'm happy to say the rest of the game followed suit.  

2. How did the author do within the restrictions?

Seeing as I barely noticed there were restrictions while playing this I'd say he did pretty well. Like my other favorites, A Witch Tale feels like a complete (if small) game in its own right.  

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?

I really enjoyed the puzzles at the bridge and the clearing; I realize they were done out of necessity to work around the restrictions, but they were still something unique I've never seen in an IF game before. (Which is a little strange, come to think of it...you'd think in a medium that's all about words and puzzles I would have run into more actual word puzzles...)    

As for the storyline, it was...adorable? :P (just trying to avoid the 'c' word here since I'm sure Dan is sick of it by now...)  I did feel the ending fell just a tiny bit flat....not to say it didn't work fine as an ending, I just wasn't all that thrilled with it as the ending. The lack of an alternate one is pretty much the only time the task restriction became obvious.  

4. What did you like best about the game?

The writing and atmosphere, definitely. Everything was very fairytale-ish and cha--um, enchanting? I only wish the game were longer as it's been far too long since I had a nice big magical forest to explore. I'm going to steal from revgiblet once again and say that there's just something about that that makes me feel like a kid again...blame C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?

I was a little put off by the tense switching helga mentioned, and except for rare exceptions I'm a little traditional in that I generally have a hard time getting into games written in first person. Of course that's not really something that needs to be 'fixed', just a matter of taste.

Any other comments?

No comments, just a question: Dan, any plans to release an expanded version somewhere down the road?

Reviewed by Duncan_B

PROS: Strong writing and character development.  A fun fairy tale with a Kyrandian sort of feel to it, minus all that mucking about with birthstones, etc.  A good intro made the controls clear and easily accessible to the player.  Clever use of formatting streamlined the game.

And let’s face it— enchanting as all get-out.  Hard to believe it’s a “first game.”

CONS: Mostly minor gripes that just made me feel like a buffoon.  In the first room in the forest, the player is told “I can only move west” when what you really have to do is move north… in desperation, I tried south and east… I gave up on it and came back to it later in the comp when, with a clear head, I re-read the room description…

The game makes good use of ADRIFT’s conversation system, but at the same time the limits of that system sometimes blatantly interfere with the game (e.g., try asking the witch about magic words and you get the big-wall-o-text spiel about magic that has no real relevance to the game).  While most of the conversation was manageable, the “ask X about Y” will almost always feel awkward, and to me will always come off as a bit “eh.”

Event descriptions (i.e., hair falling, sounds of nature, and “Leif is here…”) kept displaying in-line with regular descriptions, which bothered me.

Some grammatical gripes… spelling errors, tense switches, missing or misplaced apostrophes.

No help/hints.

OVERALL: Basically what everyone else has already said.


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