IFCOMP2014: Arqon: A Criminal's Journey review

Arqon: A Criminal's Journey by H. J. Hoke placed 39th in the 20th Interactive Fiction Competition IFCOMP2014. You can play online at ifdb. This series of blog posts are mini-reviews I wrote as a fellow author to document my impressions of other games.

Spoilers below

You play the part of Arqon - a criminal basically forced to work as an assassin for the bureau of magic. It took me awhile to get used to which commands worked - probably my lack of familiarity with parser games. I encountered a few bugs:

In the room before meeting the hermit the description said I could go up, east and west but exits said I could only go west and up.

After killing the Hobgoblin and meeting the hermit:
*** Run-time problem P47 (at paragraph 663 in the source text): Phrase applied to an incompatible kind of value

I almost couldn't make the game work after that. #sadface And just as I was starting to have fun...

Ok, I managed to get past that bug and a misspelling of hermit as "hermet". Then the game was over. And just as I was starting to have fun.

A few things: a criminal recruited as an assassin ... yeah maybe. Your inventory being left intact after being imprisoned... nope. The mayor hanging out a few levels deeper than the dungeon... nope. If the placement issues were fixed then this could be enjoyable enough to play in a larger version.

The writing could do with some proof reading and edits. I didn't mind the combat, but I blanked over the combat text since it didn't seem to matter.

The verdict: skip this game unless there are major updates.