Mark Hatfield (2008)
In Berrost's Challenge
you play an apprentice that's thrown out of the tower for
not having what it takes to be properly molded into a wizard; but Berrost is giving you
one final chance to learn his spells by hiding them throughout the small village. The
old master gives you a list of clues to work off of, but it's a bit abstract, so you
might find yourself turning to the hints to get through this one.
This is primarily an under clued puzzle-fest, which makes it a little hard to play, with
lots to explore. The village is small enough that you don't have to map it out, but a lot
of objects are hidden in the room descriptions so you'll have to read everything carefully
to make sure you don't miss anything. There is an inventory limit in this game, and I never
found a bag holding, which is a shame because it takes place in fantasy setting. It also
has hunger puzzles and sleep requirements, but these are handled quite well, adding to the
verisimilitude while not being to difficult to get around.
The biggest problem I had with the game was the clueing, or lack there of. It didn't point
me in the right direction. Like if I was doing something right, but was lacking a certain
item, it didn't let me know that I could do it, just under the right circumstances. The
game also has way too many guess-the-verb puzzles. There were a number of situations where
alternate solutions would have gotten me around this, but they just weren't coded. Play
testing helps with this, and it was tested, I just wished more people had gone over it.
Also, the game can be put into an unwinnable state, so save often; and it could've used a
few more synonyms, while some automation would have helped it out too.
In the end I enjoyed this game. I really liked its design. Things like hunger and sleep
where handle in some of the best ways I've ever seen, but it also feel down with too many
guess-the-verb puzzles that were under clued. But all of this can be tightened up in a
second release, and I'd love to see the game polished to the point that it becomes easily
playable. This game has an Infocom feel about it. I loved it, and even with all of the
problems that it has, I gave it an 8.