IF Comp ’09 – Eric Eve’s Snowquest!October 23, 2009
Eric Eve is this year’s Big Name from which we are all Expecting Great Things. I’ve only played one of his other games, last year’s Nightfall, which had a couple nice features to keep the player up to speed with what the PC knows, but could have used some going the other direction, because man, the protagonist is thick. (Not stupid, mind you, just… you know how characters in pre-Scream horror movies were ignorant of genre conventions, and would often wander away from the others to get a beer from a dark basement while a serial killer was at large, and you’d find yourself screaming at the screen? Or how characters in romantic comedies get into huge misunderstandings and don’t speak to each other for more than half the movie, because somehow neither of them managed to use a noun, and you find yourself screaming at the screen? I found myself screaming at the screen, is what I’m getting at. “David! That ticking thing is a bomb! Don’t give it a biscuit!”)
I liked Nightfall, though, and I am prepared to like Snowquest, which I hear has a female protagonist, so maybe she will be somewhat less dense. There are a finite number of ways to find out, and the easiest one I can think of is playing the damn game.
Mostly Spoiler-Free Upshot: It was pretty good. That’s sort of all I have for you, upshot.
[spoilers begin here]
Whatever I’m after must be pretty important if I’m out here trudging through the snow for it. If I ever want something this badly in real life I will seduce a helicopter pilot.
Went through several verbs trying to pick this branch up off the ground and start a fire by rubbing it, but I’m willing to accept that as my fault.
And now I’m dreaming about a unicorn, which means I’m a replicant, or Tom Cruise. Wait, what do I mean “or?”
But only one who speaks the ancient tongue will be able to read it, and there are only two such people in the world: you and I.
I get the feeling this was our first mistake. If I make it back alive, ancient tongue classes are going to be mandatory in the public schools. Also, why are ancient races always so much wiser and more technologically advanced? Someday I want to read something where they’re just a bunch of fuckups. “We’ve unearthed another ancient aqueduct. Shame they never worked out not to put holes in the bottom, poor things. Still, the cock ‘n’ bas-relief is lovely.”
What’s heronweed? Let me look it up quickly in Convenient Flora of the Worlds… oh, it’s exactly like rope except it grows out of the ground! How fortunate! I shouldn’t make too much fun of it, though, as any adaptation that makes adventurers pick you up and carry you around is a great way to spread your seed.
Also, I just realized that rub-the-stick-on-the-other-stick-to-start-a-fire puzzle depends on the player having knowledge they themselves probably never ever use – how do you start a fire? I use matches or a lighter, personally – yet we all seem to pick it up somewhere, don’t we? If you stuck me in the wilderness somewhere I would have no idea what I could and couldn’t eat, or how to build a simple shelter, or find water, or protect myself from wild animals, but I would know, in the brief time before I died horribly, that I could allegedly rub two sticks together to start a fire. That to me says something very interesting about humans.
TIE HERONWEED AROUND ROCK should maybe work. I can’t work up the energy to be terribly vehement about that one, but it was the first thing I tried, and I think maybe it should work. Also, these puzzles are nice and straightforward, if not terribly exciting.
You find nothing in the skeleton but the bones it’s composed of, and a curious golden thread holding it together.
Well, there goes my agnosticism.
This is the second game I’ve played in which light coruscated off something. Snowquest has fewer twelve-syllable words overall, though, so I’m willing to forgive it.
> put bone in slot
The end of the bone is just too big to fit into the slot.
That is what I tell the ladies, but they seem to view it as a challenge. It must be all this Axe body spray I use.
Oh, weird, I’m back in the cave where I had that dream earlier? Well, all right, let’s try this again.
Huh. I just found myself dead in an airplane. Oh, okay, all of this was a vision of the future, shown to me by a mysterious stranger in an airport. I am supposed to fly the Book of Yashor to the Farpoint Weather Station, but now I’m not entirely sure I want to.
No, you won’t open the parcel, because you’re sure Stephen would never deceive you about something like that — aren’t you? At least you think you are — or should be.
Open the parcel, David! No, don’t give it a biscuit! Where are you even getting all these biscuits?
Stephen particularly stressed that these observations might significantly enhance scientists’ understanding of climate change and so help save the planet.
> enter car
You haven’t yet decided to leave;
Oh, I have. Jennifer hasn’t. Are all his protagonists like this?
Oooh, choices. Do I go see Agent Wolf, who could be evil, or deliver the package for Stephen, who could be evil, or just go the fuck home? I would just go home, but I’m curious what Agent Wolf’s got to say. Actually, I should probably have delivered the package, which probably really did contain important weather… thingies, and prevented the coming ice age. Oh well. I have a save file.
Y’know, if I were allowed to just open the damn package before leaving the airport, the choice would be easier, if much much less interesting.
Yeah, I don’t trust Wolf at all.
Wolf blocks your path.
> throw stick
That would be somewhat pointless right now.
Worked on the last wolf.
Hmm. If I fly to the weather station, I crash. If I give the package to Wolf, he shoots me. If I go home, all I get is “At least you have survived.” Clearly, I’m missing something.
Let’s check out the hint system. Oooh, option to disable hints! I think this far into the game I will be all right. Also, there’s a walkthrough, which is worse… hey, after going through all that, I get “Sorry, no hints are available at this time.” Boo!
He’s given you no reason to attack him as yet, and you’ve never been one for gratuitous violence.
Maybe Jennifer hasn’t. Would you like to see my pile of dead goblins?
> put parcel in plane
You put the large brown parcel into the Cessna.
I will go see him without the parcel, to see what happens.
(first taking the large brown parcel)
Ah, now I get a hint. “It seems you have another Wolf to overcome.” Thank you, hints. You’re helping. I’ve tried throwing the parcel, but he catches it. Also, I object to being told how good-looking he is while he’s pointing a gun at me. I don’t think we’ll be going on a date later.
Man, I don’t want to look at the walkthrough.
As you reach the end of the path, a branch scratches against your face. Reaching out to brush it aside, you absently break off the end of it and retain the twig.
Oh! Teach me to start reading words!
Okay, that worked. Sure are fast sheriffs we have in this deserted mountain wilderness, too.
Oh, good, I’m not dead and Stephen and I are going out for dinner. What about future me and her failed quest for the Book of Yashnor, though? I thought something I did in the present was going to save them. Then again, I didn’t die in a plane crash, so presumably that part of the vision is wrong, so maybe by getting the components to the weather station, I also averted the coming ice age? In any case, I would have liked some sort of closure on that. Oh, and what was that golden thread holding the skeleton together? Just thread?
As with Nightfall, I feel weird giving this game an eight, especially since I gave the game based on Nightfall a rather overexuberant nine, but, well, there we are. It was well-written, and competently put together, and not uninteresting, but just… missing something, and I’m not sure what.