Monday, 21 October 2013

Captain Verdeterre's Plunder by Ryan Veeder


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(Version reviewed: 1st update)

Ryan Veeder, winner of IFComp 2012 with Taco Fiction, brings us the tale of Captain Verdeterre's Plunder. This is a short and brisk Glulx treasure hunt in which you must locate and throw as many worthy valuables as you can into your sack before the ship sinks. The rising water acts both as an overall time limit and a series of separate time limits related to particular puzzles, with items on the lower decks becoming inaccessible sooner than those higher up. You only find out what items are really worth once you clear the game with them in your sack, and this will dictate when and whether you expend time on collecting them the next time you play. Flavour comes via the descriptions of the pirate booty, as well as from the running commentary on your treasure-hoarding efforts by the eponymous captain, a talking rat who's a bit of a jerk, though an amusing one.

The design of the game is dense and clever. The action moves quickly and is punctuated by suspenseful messages about the rising water, making for a fun and polished optimisation challenge. That said, due to the game's smallness, my knowledge that probably 100+ other people are playing it at the same time as me, my belief that I know how I would solve the game's problems and my confidence that I would indeed solve them if I just got out a piece of paper and did the work, I didn't feel compelled to put in the effort of doing that work. I played the game a few times to solve the major puzzles, then I started reading others' reviews of it to hear tales of their high scores. If you want to put in the work yourself, you'll get a stronger aftertaste. I'm content to say that I had fun with this small, quality game.

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