Berrost's Challenge

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.