Ollie Ollie Oxen Free

I found this to be an engaging, interesting puzzler, even if some of the puzzle work began to get a bit repetitious. The premise of the story is that you are a teacher in a school that has just been attacked -- there's a war going on -- and now you've got to find the surviving children under your charge and bring them to safety. (I note that, while one of the other teachers is mentioned as a casualty, the game is careful not to say that any of the children have been killed....) Because the protagonist is (supposedly) injured and still gasping from poison gas, he has to depend on the children he rescues to carry out the tasks of gathering the others and getting out.

Some of the puzzling is made ingenious by the limitation of having to depend on the students for the physical work. They have limits: one has a broken leg, and another is so psychologically attached to her stuffed toy that she only ever has one hand free to do anything. And since the students have to hold hands with each other to ensure the group stays together, that generally ensures that this last one must always be at the end of the chain.

The fiddliness also comes from these limitations. There is an inventory limit, of a sort: each student only has two hands, after all, and can therefore only carry two things at a time, at most. Some students have backpacks, but keeping things in these supposed hold-alls is not an automated action. Given the number of students and the number of backpacks, it is perhaps easier to keep track of objects if they're not automatically stored away; but it's still tedious having to constantly putting things in and taking things out.

And it's tedious having to get the students to all take each others' hands. I wished so much for a "get all" to do this for me.

Tedious fiddling aside, the characters were charming and well-drawn. The writing and atmosphere did pull me in, and I felt properly engaged with the story. On the whole, definitely one of the higher points of the comp.

Two eggs, sunny side up; farmer's sausage, home fries, strong coffee, and a bit of fruit on the side -- a complete and hearty breakfast.