Linus Åkesson (2018)

Blurb: "I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man." -- Chuang Tzu

Tethered is a game told from multiple viewpoints, hence the quote from Chuang Tzu. The game starts off with you stuck by a crevice, with your climbing partner Judith dangling below you from a rope. Getting free from the situation starts to get a little strange in the second part, and I was never able to advance the game to the third part even following the walkthrough from the beginning.

The game is written in its own complier, DIALOG, outputting a zblorb file. It seemed to work fine in Gargoyle on Mac OS Mojave, but I also noticed something missing by the end, and I couldn't advance to the next part. I could be the interpreter or the language, but I don't see the advantage to using your own complier even if it does output to zcode. It's too easy for it to fall apart on a system it wasn't tested on.

The first thing I noticed out of the ordinary was how the game handles ambiguity. Instead of asking something like, do you mean the left hand or the right hand on a collision, it gives numbered options for the left and right hand. So you have to press a 1 or 2 to see either in conflict. This seems wrong in a text adventure. At least for me. I don't want something boiled down to a choice like that.

Another thing that seemed strange was the implementation of a red herring as part of the rope. You can TIE ROPE creating a lasso. When you do this, you can't complete the rope puzzle. After tying the rope, you can throw it trying to latch on to something. But you never do. Seeing it work like this, I thought it was part of the solution. Only to turn to the walkthrough to find out that it's not. And like I said, leaving the rope tied breaks the rope puzzle.

When I went down a level, the next part started to feel a little like "Shade" by Andrew Plotkin. But I wouldn't truly know. After banging my head on this area for a while, I looked at the walkthrough finding an object that wasn't listed in the room description. A closet. But I could open it, and take the toolbox from it. But that was as far as I could go. I couldn't go back up. The game was broken.

And I tried. I went through the walkthrough step by step, doing it all in order and it didn't work. I didn't see the closet and I couldn't go up. Which looks like it jumps to a cut scene by looking at the walkthrough.

Tethered is a bold attempt by Linus to write his own compiler. But on my machine it failed. I couldn't get to the third part of the game. I know the author is going to talk more about the compiling language after the comp is over, and maybe he could make some improvements, but there are so many different interpreters, for so many different OSs, that it becomes hard to test a new language fully. In the end, this is a competition about games, and this one was broken for me.

Score: 6