Ship of Whimsy
for Interpreter (Z-Code)

Mr Creosote:
Company: U.N. Owen
Year: 2011
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Misc. Fantasy / Nautical / Text-based
Language: English
Licence: Freeware
Views: 13830
Review by Mr Creosote (2011-10-14)

So you're on a ship... occupied by a few cliché fairly tale characters. Who or what you are remains unclear. Which, as it turns out at the very end, is kind of the point (using the term 'point' in a very liberal way). You see, the ship is not quite ready to sail off yet. It's up to you to complete the preparations, as the rest of the crew is apparantely either lazy or incompetent.

Very incompetent, in fact, as these preparations only involve:

- 'finding' two objects which are lying around in plain view (and giving them to the people asking for them),

- pulling one lever,

- and finally untying a rope.

That's the whole game. The reasons why it still took me more than a minute to finish were different ones. First of all, while on board, the game insists on using 'nautical' movement directions. Which is needlessly complicated, because the ship is still stationary, so compass directions would make perfect sense. The main problem, though, is that both on the ship and in the harbour, some existing exits are simply unlisted and can only be indirectly infered from another description. Seriously. Why?

There is nothing happening on the ship or around it unless it's you doing it. There is no plot; who is this fairy queen? Where does she want to go and why? There is no conflict, no task. The only logical thing for the protagonist/player would be to just get off the ship and walk away.

But even being nice and doing all those simple chores which the game apparantely expects the player to do, the whole reward is just a snarky comment. Which, in an unintentionally hilarious way, did not even make the slightest bit of sense in my playthrough, because the game logic, as it was obviously intended, broke for me. Since there is nothing to spoil, I will just say it: The ending is supposed to be that the ship sails away without the player. Yet, it is perfectly possible to still get back on the ship after untying it. So the whole thing ends with a nonsensical description of a location on board while the ending text talks about the ship being 'barely a dot on the horizon'.

That breakage (which will be easily fixed; otherwise, it is technically solid), the abundance of standard parser responses or the lack of implemented scenery objects is not really the main problem, though. Sure, this is not very immersive, but I don't care that much. The problem is that Ship of Whimsy is just completely devoid of anything. There is no plot and there is also no game. This looks like someone's programming excercise, not a serious attempt at making a game. Come on, 'U.N. Owen', at least after sailing off (i.e. when there is no way to escape from the confined space of the ship anymore) accuse everybody on board of a crime and then proceed to kill people off one by one!

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