The Grand Quest review

I was glad that I didn’t wake up with amnesia.  Rather, I was given a lucid, but very brief, back-story about some legendary goblet.  (Apparently a different chalice goblet from the one I stole in Byzantine Perspective, but maybe not!)

This game is a puzzlefest.  I don’t really care for those.  I immediately resorted to the walkthrough, and stuck with it for most of the game.  (Also I’m not sure if it’s been beta-tested; I can’t figure out how to get credits.  There might be a bug, or a typo in the walkthrough.)

My complaint against this game is a lot like my complaint against _Gleaming the Cube_.  This is a better game than _Gleaming_, which is a non-game, but like _Gleaming_ it fails to give useful or interesting responses to wrong input.

That’s especially a problem because, like _Gleaming_, you’re locked in a room with the puzzle until you solve it, at which point you’re given a new puzzle.  So you can’t avoid a puzzle that you don’t understand, and you have no choice but to solve them all.

The walkthrough isn’t really a walkthrough.  It’s a help file giving you advice on how to solve the puzzles.  For those who don’t know the difference, it lies in the degree of instruction you’re given.

HINTS are little suggestions to get a player un-stuck.

HELP tells the player the overall thinking and strategy.

And a WALKTHROUGH gives the player the specific, exact commands to type in, from beginning to end, to solve the game.  Not having that was a problem, because this game was not well-stocked with synonyms, requiring some guess-the-word type puzzles.

(There follows what some would consider a spoiler.  I don’t think it is one, given the context, but if you want to play this game and solve the puzzles on your own, stop reading here.)

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S

For example, here’s the help file on the last puzzle:

You’ll need to put the cards into the slot in the left box to change them into new cards, which will appear in the right box. The cards they change to are determined by the order you insert them, and the state of the right box (open/closed). The correct moves are:

Open 4D 6S -> 5C 5C
(put the four of diamonds in the slot first, followed by the six of spades, while the right box is open.)
..etc..

And here’s the transcript from my game:

Casino Room
Two wooden boxes sit atop a stone table. To the north lies another gate.

On the green table are a Four of Diamonds and a Six of Spades.

>take four of diamonds
I only understood you as far as wanting to take the Four of Diamonds.

>get it
That’s hardly portable.

>x four of diamonds
I only understood you as far as wanting to examine the Four of Diamonds.

>x 4d
You can’t see any such thing.

>x cards
You can’t see any such thing.

>look
Casino Room
Two wooden boxes sit atop a stone table. To the north lies another gate.

On the green table are a Four of Diamonds and a Six of Spades.

>take all from table
Four of Diamonds: Taken.
Six of Spades: Taken.

>x six of spades
I only understood you as far as wanting to examine the Six of Spades.

>put four of diamonds into slot
I didn’t understand that sentence.

>put four of diamonds into left box
I didn’t understand that sentence.

>put four of diamonds in left box
I didn’t understand that sentence.

>x four of diamonds
I only understood you as far as wanting to examine the Four of Diamonds.

>put it in the left box
You put the card through the slot.

>put card in left box
You put the card through the slot. You hear a rustling noise.

>take cards from right box
You can’t see any such thing.

>x right box
A simple wooden box, with a hinged lid. It is open. Inside the box there is a
Seven of Diamonds and a Three of Hearts..

>take cards
You can’t see any such thing.

>take all from right box
Seven of Diamonds: Taken.
Three of Hearts: Taken.

Now you’ll notice that, although I followed the instructions, the magical card-mutating system didn’t give me the cards it was supposed to, which were supposed to be the 5 of Clubs and the … 5 of Clubs.

As far as I can tell, this game isn’t solveable.  I mean, maybe there’s a typo in the help file — it does have one elsewhere, where it fails to list one of the puzzles (= rooms) entirely — or, probably, the help file represents how the puzzle is supposed to work, and the puzzle-logic got away from the author.

update:  Victor G. solved this puzzle and really enjoyed doing it.  –He studied the pattern in the puzzle behavior and applied linear algebra to it.

It might be possible to work out the mathematical pattern to what this thing is actually doing with the cards, and thereby to solve this puzzle and the game.  But, more than all of the preceeding, this is the actual problem in this game:

I have no reason to want to solve it.  There’s no story.  There’s no reward for doing all that work.  And the puzzles aren’t even fun — not to me, anyway.

I would much rather know about this character than do these (to speak honestly from my perspective) dumb puzzles.  Why does he want this goblet?  What is it supposed to do for him?  How did he find out about it?  How did he track this mythical goblet that’s shrouded in mystery to this location?  Where *is* this location?  How does he square his obsession with the quest with having a wife and kid?  Why is the guardian of the chalice such a lunatic?

There’s all kinds of material for a story here, but no story.  Writing a story, and easing up on the restrictions placed on the character, so the player can explore a bit, are my suggestions for this author.

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Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 11:59 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it so frustrating to manipulate or even pick up the cards!


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