Spring Thing ’11 – Sean Huxter’s The Promise!

April 19, 2011

ASCII dinosaur by Celeste Fowler.  I considered doing something like “what if Jane Austen wrote Dinosaur Comics?” but it didn’t really go anywhere, and I realized I didn’t want to spend more time on the buffer than on the review.  Plus I’m not sure I could easily find a woodcut of two happy nuptial dinosaurs perpetually about to step on a chaise and four.  If this greatly disappoints you, write one yourself.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  I’m certainly not it.

                             /                             \ 
                     ___/ /  | work yourself to death      |
  \                 |  /\/   |and I stick a horn into you! |
  \\                \  o --/ \ ____________________________/ 
   \\    /---\------/\   __)_/ /                              
   \ \__/ '           `  _/ --/                                
    \     \    '         |                         
    \______\   \   `     /
        /   \   \--/   / \                                  
        /  / |  |  |  |  |                                  
        |  | |  |  |  |  |                                  
        ---# --##  --## -#

[spoilers begin here]

Harsh life of perpetual winter, eh?  Right, I can get behind that.  Lemme just put a few more sweaters on.

Oooh, a reputation score!  That is one of my favorite stats to track.  (I like games in which I get to be the Big Goddamn Hero and Yes Yes We Know Save Everybody.)

Dang.  Mom’s not sounding so good.

Hmm, so there’s sort of a quest system with these promises, looks like?  That could be fun!  Game’s already looking pretty solid.

Ack!  People keep asking me for things!

>ask angson for string
Angson checks around. “Sorry, Wil. I don’t have any wick string. You can probably get some at the Ropewalk. And while you’re over there, you can bring me some net mending line.”
“Wil, I still need that mending line. Could you fetch it for me?”
Dude, of course you still need it!  You just asked me for it two seconds ago!  I am not magic!  (Wait, am I?  I guess that hasn’t actually been established.)

Wait, where do I get the plank from?  You know, Nicole Kidman used to do chores for an entire village, and she wound up snapping and slaughtering everybody.  (Although I don’t think Wil has to deal with gang-rape.  Boy was that movie depressing.)

Dear >G,
I love you.
someone who just dipped a wick in some wax about six times

“Ah, thanks Wil.” She looks at the mangled candle you’ve brought. “What happened to it? I really can’t use this, Wil. I’ll have to get one myself later.”
Wait, what happened to my candle?  Scrollback, do you know?  Oh.  I guess I was supposed to cool it, huh.  I am the worst son!  I am the worst son ever!

Do we really need all these rooms, like, the paths that lead to the chandlery and carpentry and such?  They look nice on the map, but I’m not sure they add anything to the actual game.  (On the plus side, it is nice to have a map, especially since Wil would know where all this stuff is.)

>ask angson about log
“Oh, we usually stack logs up near Your Hut, Wil, as I’m sure you know.”
Oh, I didn’t, actually.  I went all the way up to the forest and then there were wolves in it and I was all eek wolves I’m not going in there and the wolves were all what’s your hurry tasty bacon and um yeah.  My Hut you say?  I will look There Then.  Thanks.

>hug mother
You hug your mother. She hugs back, saying “Thanks, Wil. I needed that.”

He’s stumbled in from the north. He is dressed like no one you’ve seen before. His unfamiliar clothes are soaking wet, tattered, torn, filthy and bloody. He stumbles on bleeding feet, collapses, but soon rights himself, however unsteadily. He gasps: “I must see your Elder!”

You point to the Elder who stands, feebly, and says: “This man is a harbinger of war. The hordes have attacked his village and others along this coast and he claimed that their intention is to raze every village to the ground!”
Well, fuck!  I’m all invested in this village now, after doing twenty points worth of chores for these people and hugging my mom and everything!

Hmm.  Part of me wants to try reading this letter I promised I wouldn’t read, to see what happens, but the other part is worried about spoilers, so I guess I’ll make a save file here and try it later.

Sweet!  Magic amulet!

Um, when I CLIMB ROPE in Cistern Clearing, it takes me down into the cistern, shows me the room description, then takes me immediately back out of the cistern.  How about DOWN?  I hear DOWN is nice.

Slowly, from out of the blanket of flame-coloured fog, a head emerges – an evil, dragon head, its snarling mouth open, its teeth flaring, flame shooting from its open maw. Following the head, a scaly neck, then a low, wide body, and – a sail, a large square sail, billowing in the strong wind. The sound of many men chanting in time as oars hit water assures you this is not some ancient sea beast, but a ship – a raider’s ship.
Gentlemen, you are free to soil yourselves.

The sound of screaming men slowly fades out as the marauders slip, one by one, beneath the waves, never to be heard again.
Oh.  Well, that went rather better than I was expecting.
Then your heart sinks to your gut as you see another dragon’s head emerge from that curtain of vapour, its mouth aflame, slowly coming towards the Village.

Oh, man, choice time… do I break my promise, or let this dude kill me?  In real life, I would break the shit out of that promise.  But Wil isn’t going to.  (Wil has more save files than I do.)

She then turns her gaze on the Horde raider standing, stunned, over you.
“You, however, are a very bad man.”
You are so fucked, buddy!
The wolves overtake him and tear him apart.

I enjoyed that!  The map and the magic amulet kept things pretty navigable, the narrative unfolded nicely (the raider ships coming out of the mist was a great oh shit moment), and I was never  — and this is a thing I super appreciate — at a loss for what to do.  Hmm, any downsides?  There’s a bit more map than seems entirely necessary.  Gylna doesn’t want to talk about very much.  It took me a while to stumble across SEARCH STONES in the cistern, and I was only looking there in particular because I’d had to solve a puzzle (well, lower a rope) to get into it, so I figured it was probably important.  (Hmm, I wonder if there are multiple nitre sources in the forest?  There’s that area across the bog I never explored…)  Those are all pretty minor, though.  Oh, hey, what happens if you open the letter?

Dire times are upon us, and I have need for your son to enter the forest. We both know you can provide him protection from danger. The survival of the village is in your hands, Elke.
Oh, is that all it says?  Hardly worth breaking a promise over, then.

Yeah.  Good game!


  1. Woo dinosaurs! Who says commenting on strangers’ blogs is a waste of time now?

  2. Thanks for writing such a kind review. The others I have read (I think I was able to find 3) each tore me a new one. So now I feel like I have four uh… ‘ones’.

    It seems that someone didn’t get the idea that the main antagonist in the story is a petulant, self-centered child with awesome powers who has already proven she will take rather unkindly to having her heart broken, since she already plunged the entire land into perpetual winter because your father broke a promise to her.

    And you saw how angry she got when you explained how he abused her gift in order to KILL the very animals she was sworn to protect.

    It seems that no other reviewer ‘got’ that this is one goddess you don’t want to mess with, and if you make a promise, you had better damn-well keep it.

    She doesn’t care you’re being chased for your life, she doesn’t care one damn bit. If you had entered her valley after making a solemn promise, she would not stop to listen to the reason, you KNOW that whatever she did would be far worse than what she has already done, to the dire detriment of your village, and indeed, your own father, whose death is clearly due to his broken promise.

    So thanks for not ripping me to shreds on this one. It was hard enough to read lengthy diatribes about how fucked-up it is to demand a 10-year-old keep a promise, let alone go on and on about how promises are meant to have some leeway – sure, if you’re not making it to an all-powerful god who holds grudges like no human can.


    Well, I’ve entered two competitions now, and I came in fifth in both. Sure, one was in a field of 35, and one in a field of 6, but I like to think that it has a kind of internal consistency. 🙂

    BTW, I’d love to send you a feelie pack. Send me your address to the e-mail you’ll find in-game.


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