IFComp 2009 review: Eruption by Richard Bos

The author of Eruption spends quite a lot of words explaining his motivations to enter the comp. Apparently he figures that either there is the usual amount of crap submitted so that his game places somewhere in the middle, or there are a lot of good games so his game places at the bottom. While some amount of realism is healthy, you can't help but wonder if the game would have reached higher if the aim hadn't been so low.

The gameplay consists of object hunting in a tropical island (for some reason at first I assumed it was the Pompeii and expected Roman soldiers and pilums and stuff). It's pretty straightforward with little plot, but at least there's a background and even a feelie, so it's not completely bland.

I had troubles figuring out what the exits were at many of the locations. I think this is because there were too many directions mentioned in the descriptions so I had to really read and understand what they meant. For example, see what happens if I highlight all the directions in this room description:

This beach lies between two large outcrops of rock - foothills of the volcano to the west - and the sea to the east. In the rock to the southwest is your cave; the north-western ridge stretches all the way to your north, where a shack stands on a promontory. The Island Path runs from the south, around the foothills, to the northwest across a cut in the rock. There is also a path north up the cape, and a staircase ascending the volcano

That's a lot of directions in one paragraph (plus a mention that up is also a direction) and it's very difficult to pick them out from there. In addition the map is full of one-way paths and paths that change direction (so if you go west, then east, you don't end up where you started), so the topography is much more complicated than it should be considering how relatively few locations it has.

There was one puzzle I struggled with because I completely misunderstood an item's description (you would think that if you lug around a cloth that has a pair of oars wrapped in it you would notice that there's something inside the cloth). Otherwise it was quite straightforward and easy -- not complete crap, but not exactly shining either. Just like the author intended.

4 thoughts on “IFComp 2009 review: Eruption by Richard Bos

  1. I enjoyed that it was technically solid, bug-free, spellchecked, and consistent in style and writing throughout the game. I also enjoyed solving the puzzles, apart from the one mentioned. And I enjoyed not having anything specific not to enjoy.

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