Island in the Storm

All right. Simply based on the walkthrough, there appears to be some solid puzzle design going into this. I'm looking at the list of things that must be done to get to the ending, and I'm thinking, "Gee, that looks like fun. I want to play this."

It's a relatively old school sort of story, where we're looking more at the puzzle than at the story. That's fine; a lot of us like that sort of thing, and this isn't exactly Scott Adams austerity. There IS a story going on in there, for all we're focussed on just getting from A to B. There are also a few issues with the overall architecture of the game, however.

First things first, the user interface. Text is presented in coloured boxes of varying widths, I suspect either to maintain a certain number of lines per box or else to maintain a certain proportion to the text boxes, and resulted in the entire game playing out only on the left half of my screen. Perhaps I'm simply used to the convention of fixed widths with varying heights, but this felt a little uncomfortable to me. Still, not a big issue. I'm sure there are some people who will like this.

Then there's the conversation system. It's the "Ask about" model with some very specific topics, but the game helpfully gives you the correct syntax for each topic as they come into scope, which you must then type out -- though sometimes a mere keyword would suffice. Okay, I know this isn't the first time a game's done that, but I always wonder: why not just give us a conversation menu and let us pick a number? For a game as conversation-light as this, with so little conversation branching, surely a simple "Talk to" command would have been better?

Finally, the map. There are a lot of what I call "corridor spaces": rooms whose only purpose is to connect one room to another. It's inevitable that a few of these must occur in every game, but it's always best to keep them to a minimum: no one is interested in remembering a complex series of directions just to get from A to B, and whatever wonderful scenery descriptions you may have are not going to be read after the first visit. It's exacerbated here in that many of the descriptions look similar enough that I felt forced to read things I'd already read before (which is tedious) just to be sure of where I was.

I'm focussing in on the details here, and looking at them now, I honestly feel like I'm not being fair. I guess the truth is that the little things add up. It's like a breakfast quiche with a bunch of small things wrong about it -- maybe the crust is singed, or maybe there's not enough cheese -- no single one thing being particularly onerous, but they're all baked together in a single quiche, see, and you've got to eat it that way. It's an ambitious recipe foiled by a dozen minor issues.