VR Gambler

The game itself is a simple RPG simulation: kill monsters, get their loot. The framing story is that this is in fact an RPG simulation hosted by a casino, and the objective is to make it out with as much loot as possible because that translates into real money in the end. So immediately we have a justification for the situation and a clear objective. Good.

I rather like RPG simulations like this, as I think I've said elsewhere. I like seeing my character level up and kick virtual ass. And the simulation seems ... not too bad at all, really. It's pretty generic, but the frame story gives it a certain something that informs the aesthetic and adjusts our expectations. It also provides for justified breakage of the fourth wall. There's no opportunity for grinding: each monster appears only once, as far as I can tell, so, generally speaking, by the time you face any one opponent, you're probably already as strong as you can get. And it always feels like a challenge.

I first played this on my netbook, not on my desktop, and unfortunately it appears that my netbook does not have enough computing power that the game can respond to my commands in a timely fashion: I didn't notice it at first, but the wait got very gradually longer as the game progressed. This is ... kind of preposterous, given that IF is generally of a format that should have been playable on a PC from the 1980s, and my netbook is assuredly more powerful than that. At one point, I timed a gap of a full eight seconds between hitting enter on a command and when the game finally responded to it. In parser IF, even a gap of a quarter-second feels like much too long, so eight seconds is beyond the pale. It made for a phenomenally, mind-numbingly boring experience.

Later on, deciding I wanted to give this game a fair shake, I tried again on my desktop at home. This time around, the time lapse didn't become noticeable until very close to the very end.

I don't think this is a fault of the author, unless there's some sort of messy snarl in the code that's causing the time lapse, but I don't know ALAN and can't speak to it. I just know I've never seen ALAN stall like this before. Take away that time lapse, and I enjoyed the simulation just fine, quite as much as I've enjoyed any RPG simulation to have been entered in the comp over the years. It's nothing special, honestly, but it seems competent, and there are a few little tricks involved in the story so it's not all bashing things with your chosen weapon. I did think the ending felt a little anti-climactic, quite possibly because, story-wise, we never really had a real conflict beyond our ambition to get a good score.

It's an ordinary breakfast: bacon and eggs with a side of toast, and filtered coffee to round things off. You may have to wait a bit before the waitress refills your coffee, though. Hopefully you don't get the waitress who keeps coming back to clarify details of your order.