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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2005, Mike Snyder

Third-place winner in the 2005 IF Competition, Distress is a fun, short sci-fi game that offers several clever (but hard) timed puzzles and a great twist at the end. Although it may seem boring and standard for the first 10 minutes, if you stick with the game long enough, it begins to grow on you, and the more you play, the more interesting the puzzles become. Dan Shiovitz’s concise review explains:

“When I first tried this game, I quickly put it aside in irritation. I wasn’t really sure what to do although things seemed urgent, daemons kept going off, and a monster kept showing up and killing me. Bah. But when I put it aside I made the mental note that maybe I hadn’t given it a fair shot, so a week later I started Distress up again, and I’m really glad I did. Ok, yeah, it does have a lot going on probably more than the author realizes, since he knows which daemon messages are important and which are just color, but the player doesn’t. But once you get a handle on what’s going on, it’s much easier to pick out the moves you need to make and the messages you need to pay attention to. Although I still think it’s too easy to get killed at the beginning, Snyder clearly put a lot of work into beta-testing. The game requires a number of somewhat exotic commands, but the parsing of them is very smooth and I didn’t have any problem making myself understood. The other parts of the game are also quite solid: the puzzles aren’t too hard but they’re satisfying once you understand the world-logic; the storyline is interesting and the game is the right length to handle it; and the ending is slightly unexpected while still following logically from the rest of the game. This comp is woefully short on puzzle games if you’re in the mood for one, Distress is definitely worth putting the time into.”

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