Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

IFComp 2012: J’dal

Posted by Tracy Poff on November 10, 2012

J’dal by Ryan Kinsman is an entry in the 2012 ifcomp, in which the player is on a quest to retrieve an artifact from a mine.

(This post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.)

J’dal, unlike most modern IF, recalls the appellation ‘text adventure’. The PC, J’dal, is, if I understand correctly, a drow in some fantasy world. She and her adoptive father, Wendal, together with two others, Stolas and Roderick, have been tasked with collecting a magical artifact from a nearby mine. After a meal and a good night’s sleep, the party sets off, led by J’dal, whose ability to see in the dark is very useful in the unlit mine.

The game is pretty much on rails. A couple of situations admit multiple solutions, but the possiblities are very limited, and I can only find two endings–either the PC dies, or she is successful, and either way the game ends quickly. The puzzles are pretty straightforward, although it did take me a few tries to work out exactly how to word my solutions.

The game could really benefit from a little more depth of implementation. There are missing objects, and some of the descriptions are rather lacking. The characters don’t have much to say, either, so we can’t really get a very good picture of their motivations, except in broad strokes. There are also some bugs–the dead beart’s body is inaccessible, for some reason, and the behavior when the PC is wearing her blindfold isn’t good, for two examples that caught my attention.

J’dal is pretty short and pretty sparse, but it’s not bad. If it were cleaned up, and fleshed out a bit, it could be a nice, if short, little fantasy adventure. I can imagine recommending something like this to new players of IF.

I struggled with what score to assign this one. It’s unpolished, short, and easy, but I did enjoy it, which is more important. I’m giving it 5/10, which is actually on the higher end of my ratings this year. I may be rating this year’s games a little harshly. Perhaps a revision of my scores will be in order, before the competition ends, but I’ll wait until I’ve played a few more to make that judgment.

Play time: 38 minutes.

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