Ad Verbum: a successful IF form experiment
If you like Interactive Fiction at all, I would like to draw your attention to Ad Verbum, a marvellous game written in 2000 by Nick Montfort. When I first downloaded this, I really didn't expect it to be any fun at all |AMP|emdash; I prefer IF that is more a story than a game, and I generally detest puzzle-heavy games because they tend to get me stuck early. As Graham Nelson puts it, an adventure game is a narrative at war with a crossword puzzle; in this game, the narrative doesn't really put up much of a fight at all. And I love it! Because the puzzles in Ad Verbum are really good puzzles.
In Ad Verbum, the adventurer's day labor corner assigns you the job of clearing out the mansion of the Wizard or Wordplay. You basically have to remove all objects from all rooms in the mansion, and place them in a container. Sounds easy? Well, it would have been, weren't it for the fact that all commands have to start with the same letter as the name of the cardinal direction the room is in. Now, that is one blatant breach of the rule that players should never have to 'guess the verb'. And the upper stories of the building sets even more restrictions on the commands you can enter.
I admit that I had to use the hint system extensively to complete this game. But I have an excuse. Which is that I am not a native speaker of English. I strongly suspect that mr. Montfort must have used a thesaurus when writing the game, to cover all synonyms of 'take' and 'exit' that starts with a specific letter. But I managed to complete at least a sizable portion of the puzzles unaided, which is more than I can say about other nominally 'puzzle-light' games. In short, an incredibly funny game, worth a few hours of your time.