Beat The Devil by Robert M. Camisa(1999)

The Little Evil, Ugly Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:You know, I like this game, but it's kind of a shame that there are all these beautiful demon babes running around that you can't mess around with. What's up with that? Doesn't Robert Camisa know that we IF players have certain "urges" that we need satisfied inside a virtual environment? We are only men, Bob.

The Little Nice, Nice Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Say, how do you get the last point?

My Verdict: Wow, this game is really, really good.

The Review...

I've finally done it. It took me 1,112 turns on my third attempt, but I did it...I won! All 101 points are mine...ALL mine! I feel so proud. What is totally strange and bizarre is that though this game, on paper at least, seems to be one of the contest's siller entries, it's really in fact one of the best games I've played in a long while. The plot is this: you agree to sell your soul to the Devil in exchange for a beautiful lady named Gwyneth whom you have your eyes on. The Devil almost goes along with it, but then decides he doesn't really want your soul: instead, he presents you with a challenge. You can find a way to defeat the Seven Deadly Sins(Gluttony, Lust, Pride, Envy, Greed, Sloth, and Wrath) who populate Satan's new Mall of Hell and get Gwyneth in return, or you can fail and become a permanent addition to the help at the mall. Creative! I mean, really, you know Robert Camisa is one smart guy to come with all this stuff: there's an entire mall available for the player to explore, full of all sorts of goofy shops filled with all manner of demonic beings and unusual objects. Although the author claims the game is "not that hard", don't listen to him for a minute, for he's clearly blowing smoke up your ass. This game is very challenging. It's not so much a "guess the verb" or "find new and unusual ways to interact with NPCs" type deal as it is "pick up a whole ton of objects and then figure out what to do with them." And boy, it ain't easy. I for one got totally obsessed with sticking the pill inside the sundae and it did not occur to me for a long while that I might have to do something else with the pill first. However, no matter how frustrated and disenchanted I became with the difficult puzzles, the game itself never ceased to entertain me with its quirky humor and superb atmosphere. I am quite grateful to Camisa for including the unconscious demon salesgirl, whose advice consistently led me in the right direction - without her pithy sayings, indeed, I feel I would never have been able to complete the game. In lieu of a hint system, this was the next best thing. And I have to admit, it's a lot more fun getting hints from a demon salesgirl than it is from typing the "hint" command. Demon salesgirls rule!

What about weaknesses? I'm having a hard time thinking of any. Well...yes, there is one problem I have with the game: the parser! Inform games ain't sposed to be this frustrating. No "use" command?? No responses to very sensible attempts to manipulate objects in appropriate ways? That's messed up! I definitely think that this sort of a game which requires such judicious use of objects in various ways should have a kinder parser. Nothing drives a player to suicide quicker than a lot of "That's not a verb I recognize" messages. On the other hand, however, I can't say that the parser really bugged me a whole lot - the game was good enough to make me shrug it off and persevere. I'm just warning the newbies.

I hope I'm raving about this game enough. Simply put, if this game doesn't finish in the top five in this year's competition, this world is a horrid, unjust place that should be shattered into a billion pieces by the next asteroid that comes our way. This is like, pure entertainment! It's beautiful!

Simple Rating: 9/10

Complicated Rating: 40/50

Story: 7/10

Writing: 7/10

Playability: 8/10

Puzzle Quality: 8/10

Parser Responsiveness: 4/10

Special Ratings For This Game

Originality and Creativity: 8/10

Satanic Content: -2/10(Sorry, but just check out what Satanism did to heavy metal. You don't want crap like that ruining IF, do you?)

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