The Crisis of Dersenia by Tech-14 Software, Doug Harrison(1994)

The Little Ugly Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Let the frigging kingdom go to hell. Where are the chicks? It's not interactive fiction without wanton, gratuitous sex and violence!

The Little Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: I've never actually played this game. Too busy making the world a little safer and better for all. Got a problem with that?

My Verdict: This game is well-written, solvable but not too easy, impeccably designed and debugged, and it can even boast of a fine plot that would not make a bad novel, indeed.

The Review...

Part of the reason I wanted to create this site was so I could spread the word about great games like this one. As far as I can tell, nobody's really heard of this game. Well, I take that back: somebody wrote in a letter to SPAG about it, but it seems like nobody's written a review of the game yet. Five years after the game's release, here I am, and here's a review. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive as I loaded this game up and began to read the copious introductory remarks. The story seemed, shall we say, not entirely original, which it to say it could be quite original put in proper hands, but most people would probably make such a story horribly cliched and dull. You are put in the role of a court philosopher of the kingdom of Dersenia. The king has asked you, his most trusted advisor, to discover why the kingdom is being ravaged by all imaginable catastrophes. If it is possible, the king would also appreciate it if you made everything right once again...naturally. The natural disasters which have fallen upon Dersenia have devestated a once mighty empire, and reduced much of the kingdom's citizenry to banditry. I was wrong to think that this game might turn out cliched and dull, but I will grant that I think the introduction is probably the worst written section in this game. It comes off sounding a little too simplistic and generic - the game is far from being either of those two things.

I continued to play the game. I liked it more and more as I progressed. I explored the castle, taking a wrong turn at first and winding up dying of thirst in the prison while looking for clues. I started again, this time checking out the other exit, where I found an unlimited supply of water to my great delight as well as a helpful container. The room descriptions of the game were not show-offy attempts by a writer of more flash than substance. Rather, they were to-the-point, concise, and unpretentious; descriptive where description was needed to give the game atmosphere and to enhance its novel-like qualities, but no superfluity. The first section of the game is quite easy. You simply pick up a load of objects and explore till you are ready to branch out into the wild blue yonder and figure out how to fix the world up nice. The "real" game begins, in my opinion, with the "dream" sequence wherein you are visited by a lovely goddess who explains all that is wrong with the world, and how you can solve everything. This dream sequence was brilliantly written! It would have been well fitted for a novel! It was at this point that I realized this game was no ordinary adventure. This was a game I was going to spend a few hours on, and thoroughly enjoy every second of it.

The game is not spectacularly hard for the enterprising gamer who has no objection to saving often and keeping a notebook handy. There are a great number of items in the game that can be used in a variety of different ways. Be very much on the lookout for ways to use the bundle of objects you'll no doubt be carrying. Use logic. And refrain from using logic. You'll come to the answers sooner or later. I have confidence that, like me, you will find the game to be extremely well written and well presented, the puzzles to be not terribly easy but quite sensible, and the interpreter-less gameplay to be stunningly simplistic and wonderful.

Simple Rating: 9/10

Complicated Rating:

Story: 8/10

Writing: 8/10(Would be nine were it not for that introduction I still consider a bit iffy...)

Playability: 9/10(Never did a DOS game feel so good to me. Who needs Inform?)

Puzzle Difficulty: 9/10

Parser Responsiveness: 7/10(If the game has a slight weakness, this is it. The parser isn't about to give you any responses if you're just dicking around, but most adventure game parsers are the same way.)

Complicated Rating: 41/50

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