The Hall of the Fount of Artois

Simon Ellis (2008)

In The Hall of the Fount of Artois you've been hired to rid Pierre Artois of a family curse, but the game feels like a generic adventure where you're walking around some house picking up everything you can find. There's very little agency, and the self-coded application makes for a frustrating game. Oh yeah, there's a time limit on the whole thing too.

The writing for this piece is pretty standard for this type of game, but the overall design doesn't give you any direction to go in. Just about everything is under clued. The game understands very little, and I ended up struggling with some of the simplest things to do. In the end I turned to the walkthrough, following it to at least see what the story had to offer, which is very little. There could have been a few more synonyms, especially for the movable objects, and on top of all of that, there's an inventory limit. Let's not talk about the maze.

This game was created with a home-brewed parser, but it didn't understand things like script or restart, and restoring the game brought my computers to its knees and didn't actually load anything. Certain shortcuts weren't implemented like 'x' for examine, and it didn't understand pronouns like 'it'. Also, the verbose command doesn't exist, and you have to 'look' in the room to see the description again. You can't even 'undo' a turn, and why the game doesn't understand something like 'read letter' is beyond me.

For all of the work that went into creating this application, the time would have been better spent coding it in Inform or TADS. People like to run games in their own interpreters, using their own color schemes, and having this as a stand-alone executable only hurts it. Z-Code and TADS files are also cross-platform, where an executable locks you into a windows environment. But in the end it would still be a poorly clued exploration game. I gave it a 1.