Game Info:

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Escape the Gloomer
Developed by: Soma Games, Clopas LLC
Published by: Code-Monkeys
Release date: November 16, 2018
Available on: Windows, macOS
Genre: Text-based Adventure
Number of players: Single player
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending
Price: $6.99

Thanks, Soma Games, for sending us a review key!

Redwall is a book series and setting known to many. Woodland creatures such as mice and otters live and adventure through medieval forests and towns, protecting the animal citizens from wicked snakes and rats. Festivals and wars punctuate a life filled with difficult battles against all sorts of danger, brightened by scouting missions, feasts, and, in Escape the Gloomer, clandestine treasure hunts. The Redwall series has a history in interactive media, seemingly responsible for Ghost of a Tale, Mouse Guard, and even some works that are officially licensed rather than cribbing the concept. The Lost Legends of Redwall games are unique for being official products of the books’ publisher, and it shows. The action is violent, with dismemberment and character death the norm. Language is flowery and grandiose while still being intelligible to a child. Escape the Gloomer reflects all the inclinations of the Redwall series, for better and worse. The text interface does not hamper or help what would be a straightforward adventure game regardless, but shockingly buggy game logic drags it out longer than necessary.

Effective voice acting and good scene-by-scene writing elevate the plot, notable for exceptional blandness, to an enjoyable time. I used to think story was paramount in a game like this. I’m not so sure anymore. At least, “story” is too broad a word. Character interactions are well-written, as is scenery description. Flashbacks and narration of a time-lapse were the highlights, writing-wise. The plot itself is weak. An otter named Gillag has been tasked with sneaking into a castle to recover an ancient property deed. The point of entry is a cave guarded by the deranged rat Gloomer. Gillag will need to sneak past Gloomer, into the castle, and back out again. That could be exciting, were it not for one particular cave, where Gloomer lives. This cave has a lake in the middle fed by a waterfall. To the left of the waterfall is a sandy shore and gate leading up to the castle; to the right is a rocky pile. Across the lake is a small island, then a pile of decaying fish. Gloomer is madly chasing…. Oh, I’m sorry; lost myself for a moment. This game described that cave to me a lot. Far too much (albeit in better words than I just used to describe it). Despite the story ostensibly involving sneaking into a castle, most of the game felt like it took place in and around that cave. Finally, Gillag gets into the castle. He shortly finds himself back in that cave. The plot is mostly how to get into and back out of it. Despite good writing on a microscale, the story as a whole was less than gripping.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Escape the Gloomer

Strong Points: Good voice acting; quality writing and background art; no fail state
Weak Points: Shallow plot; little reward for experimenting with different in-game actions; some buggy logic in understanding text input and game progression
Moral Warnings: Bloody animal violence and drunkenness described

Escape the Gloomer is a text adventure. Every action, from looking at a door to lighting a torch with a tinderbox, must be typed in. There is no character movement save typing something like “enter tunnel” in its thesaurus-dictated variations. Most areas have unique accompanying art which can be seen behind the text. It's simple but good. What Gillag sees and how the world around him reacts is displayed in text and read aloud. Each character in the story is voice-acted almost as well as the narrator. Unlike old Sierra text adventure games, Escape the Gloomer is proud of having no fail state - the player character cannot die or lose - giving the player every chance to explore the game without risk. It’s unfortunate that there is little to do in the world. Flashback and room descriptions are interesting enough, but player interactions are rarely more engaging than gathering X and putting it on/in Y. The plot may sound fun to read, but most of the time playing it is spent running in circles in a large cave.

Sometimes the text interactions were glitched. The hint system sometimes advised the use of items and locations Gillag hadn’t found yet or, perhaps, had already made full use of. Typos are critically important to interaction with a text parser and come up more than they ought to, though rarely. When the player is given control of a different person, Gillag is incorrectly still referred to as the point-of-view character. These issues were not a great detriment to the game, but they were uniquely frustrating in a game which only allowed interaction via text. Sound effects are nothing special, and music is forgettable in the few instances it exists.

The Lost Legends of Redwall: Escape the Gloomer
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 66%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

I’m surprised to see the game advertised as “Suitable for ages 13+” on Steam. The hints, the clear voice acting, the story, and the admonitions to use words more creative than “move” seem appropriate for a game targeted at a learning reader. The action includes fighting and death, with some bloody details. However, the writing is not overly explicit. At least one character gets drunk during the story. The background illustrations might be frightening to a young child; however, I don’t think they were gory.

Save for the developing reader demographic, a good audience for Escape the Gloomer is hard to identify. A Redwall book tends to have a more engaging story, and other adventure games often have better interactivity. The cast of this game should get together and do a Redwall audiobook; that would be a more efficient use of their skill. That said, if Redwall excites you, then this game should be enjoyable. It feels like a true Redwall story, which it is in many ways. Interface and game logic issues are annoying but not deal-breakers if the premise of an official Redwall interactive story suits your fancy.

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Sam George

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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