Sentencing Mr Liddell

Let's start with the bad points and get them out of the way. First off, the implementation is really sketchy. There are objects pointed out in the text -- the plaque in the cargo car, for example -- which are not implemented. The train car roofs were not even described. "Get all" is blocked, and not in a sensible way: the default message says that "there are none available" even though it's clear that there are. I suspect that this last point was to deal with the possibility of the player "accidentally" finding the missing china with "get all" during the tea party fight scene, but there are ways of handling these things that don't involve messing around with "get all". And then, although it would appear that the game wants the player to have a choice in the hero's behaviour -- that is, how the hero treats his family, how he solves the problems, and so on -- there seems to be precious little elbow room to allow him to do so. As such, it became a frustrating exercise of following the author's exact plans without deviation, even though I am sure that the author wanted the very opposite.

Granted, the version I played was the original version, released at the beginning of the comp, so a fair amount of the implemetation issues may have been dealt with over the course of time. But somehow I doubt if all the issues can have been dealt with.

This thing had some fascinating potential, though. The family, though derived from Carroll's characters, was well-imagined, and the parts dealing with Catherine were generally well-written. Though I couldn't quite tell, I suspect that there may be some subtle and complex tracking of the hero's behaviour involved -- or, at least, some subtle and complex tracking was certainly planned, if not perfectly carried out -- all of which culminates in the available choices in the epilogue.

Perhaps the Carrollian influence only extends to character inspiration, but I wonder: our hero, "Alistair", is clearly supposed to be Alice; but, in his ongoing feud with his brother Leo, it is suggested that he is also the Unicorn. Another point in favour is the Scottish connection -- the Unicorn on the British coat of arms represents Scotland, and Alistair is a Gaelic variant of Alexander popular in Scotland. There's a rich mine of symbolism here, for the Unicorn, outside of Carroll's stories, is also associated with ideas of purity. Is Leo's combativeness an attack on our hero's inherent goodness, or does our hero need to *become* the Unicorn -- attain purity -- in order to be a credible opponent to Leo?

The story and game, at its core, is good. It is only that the game has been pulled from the oven before it has had time to properly rise. I would love to play around with the game more, if the implementation issues were cleared up.

If I were making breakfast for this family, I suppose I must give them white bread, brown bread and plum cake (all of it somewhat doughy) and drum them out of town. Then chase them down with copious pots of good Darjeeling tea with milk and sugar.