Hill 160

I wanted to like this. I really did. It's a World War 1 setting, and while I am really more interested in the decade that followed after, the Great War is vital to any understanding of that decade. And I'm perhaps a little bit reminded of my own "Sunday Afternoon".

However, there are multiple problems with this game. In the first place, it seems as though only the very narrow track laid out by the author has been implemented with any degree of care: attempts to deviate tend to not be understood, or to run into unexpected problems. If a verb is implemented, it is, as far as I can tell, only implemented for the specific situation where the walkthrough calls for it. The result is that I was left with a very low level of faith in the game's ability to understand what I wanted to do. It got to the point where, faced with a party of men bearing supplies that I wanted, I found myself turning to the walkthrough for a command that otherwise would have been second nature to me.

I do get the impression that the author meant to implement the most natural phrasings possible, hence "drop pants" where a more seasoned player might say "remove pants". The latter wasn't implemented, by the way. Here's the thing: what's natural to one is not always natural to another. There is a fairly standard mode of expression ingrained into seasoned IF players, which may or may not seem second nature to a newbie; meanwhile, newbies are likely to try a dozen different phrasings, half of which might be quite unexpected. An author should at least implement the standard form first, and then make allowances for possible deviations afterwards.

The text, meanwhile, was a little too dense. The author has done his research, and I think he is perhaps a little too eager to show it all off. While certainly a depth of research is desirable, this information should be more carefully dispensed. Not every detail needs to be described at the top level. A deeply researched setting is better expressed through the depth of implementation rather than by the verbosity of top-level description.

In spite of these shortcomings, I get the sense that the author has come to know his tools very well. If the implementation falls short, it is not because the author has bungled the code, but because the author has not considered the possibility of whatever action has precipitated the error. He has already incorporated a number of little tricks which, in my opinion, go above and beyond what is expected in the presentation of a game.

In short, this is a game with all the ingredients for a really good breakfast. We have oats and bacon and fresh eggs and dark-roasted coffee. It's just that none of it has been fully cooked yet.