Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lure of the Temptress [GAMES]

Normally I'm very appreciative of Good Old Games for making some of their stock free, but I feel they owe me money for playing Lure of the Temptress.  I can safely say it's probably the most annoying, frustrating game I've ever played.  I won't say it's the worst game ever--The Wife makes fun of me for reading Retro Gamer, and there's talk in there about games so buggy they can't even be completed--but Lure of the Temptress has to rank up there somewhere.

At its core, LotT is a standard point-and-click "adventure" game with a generic medieval theme.  You control a character who has taken it upon himself to free a small village from the domination of an evil witch.  Not winning prizes for originality, even if the game writers think they're clever by treating their own plot with contempt.  Anyway, the reason LofT is both innovative and infuriating is because it contains the first incarnation of Revolution Software's "Virtual Theatre."  Virtual Theatre is a concept that would be used quite well in a later game, Beneath a Steel Sky; the idea is that everyone in the game has their own lives to attend to, so instead of standing in a fixed position waiting for the player's character to stop by, they go to work, go shopping, have conversations with other computer-controlled characters, etc.  The idea of trying to make the game world "realistic" is a good one, but in LofT it's a disaster.  The main problem is that whenever two characters physically bump into each other, something that happens with annoying frequency, they stop, say "excuse me", and then wander all over the screen.  The screen is thus likely to be filled with annoying chatter, and any attempt to get your character to go somewhere is a long and frustrating process.  It's bad if there's two characters on the screen, but just wait if there happens to be four or five!  Even worse, for some reason the movement routines are off, and just telling your character to talk to another character on an otherwise empty screen could involve long, circuitous, senseless walking that ends up not working.  Something simple, like opening a door, could take four or five tries.  It's like a terrible comedy sketch, and it's the first game I've played where I thought Rifftrax should have a go.

I'm a completist at heart, and found I could only stand the game for a few minutes at a time.  Because the movement system is so annoying, the normal sort of exploration and trial-and-error of adventure games is definitely not fun.  With my patience at a minimum, I happily resorted to walkthroughs more readily than normal.*  But in any event, I have now finished the game and never have to play it again.  I have learned a valuable lesson: just because it's free, doesn't mean you have to take it.


* Places I got stuck:  (1)  Finding the forge: It's obvious when you know what to look for, but I kept walking past it and had to rely on a YouTube walkthrough!; (2) The alchemist equipment: I examined the diary loads of times, but never whilst in the laboratory--and that's the only way the burner becomes visible; (3) Getting Luthern to drink what's in the flask to empty it out; (4) Talking to Ultar twice to get the gargoyles' names; (5) Looking through the window just when the Skorl is revealing his plan.

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