Into the Maelstrom Part I: Dry Gulch

11.6 KB
No rating
(1 Review)
Board Count
17 / 18
Submitted By
2 years, 2 months ago (Dec 08, 2021)
Bug Report, Review

Into the Maelstrom Part I: Dry Gulch is a Western adventure where you, a traveler lost in the desert, come across a ghost town and have to somehow find a way to civilization.

On one hand, it's rare for a ZZT game to tackle a Western theme, and even rarer for a game of this apparent vintage (looking like the early 1990s, especially with its BBS ad) to include a view of the surroundings in indoor boards for extra atmosphere. On the other hand, the gameplay includes twisty fake-wall paths on boards filled entirely with same-colored normal walls, which demands a "show fake walls" cheat from modern players with less patience; and a progression that's not entirely logical. To elaborate, the goal is eventually reached by talking to some outlaws in jail, but you don't actually get the information you need from them in jail. Instead, you have to first free them by killing the Sheriff with little motivation except that they have the info you need and his desk has the keys to their cells, then you must follow them to their hideout, break in, and confront them in their basement before they'll tell you anything. Even less logically, you can only talk to one of them before they all suddenly disappear, and only one of them tells you the info you need, so if you talk to the wrong one, the game is unwinnable. Finally, the pile of sand blocking the only road out of town cannot be shoved away, even though you can physically do so, until you learn the info you need, which then magically allows you to do so. You then get an optional mine with a stash of goodies, which then doesn't matter because the next board up finishes the game on a twist ending that comes out of nowhere but is the only thing to reference the "Into the Maelstrom" part of the title.

Or at least it would if the ending board were actually connected to or from anything. Oops.

Game-breaking glitch aside, the overall result is a game that has some neat ideas for the time, but is gravely unpolished and doesn't hold much substance for the little time you spend on it. Skip this one.

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