Monday, October 5, 2020


 “Happyland” by Rob Fitzel.  This classic detective yarn takes place on the sprawling grounds of an amusement resort. The map is wide but the written description of individual locations is not very deep, which is probably a good thing in terms of minimizing the number of red herrings. It is already a challenging and engaging parser game. After two hours of play I was able to make an arrest and get a conviction, but I was not able to tie up all the loose ends and will probably need to play for at least another hour before getting the “best ending.” I have not been tempted to use the walk through or hints. I really want to solve this on my own.

The style of play is familiar. Interview the suspects, search for fingerprints, analyze chemicals, show evidence to others and catch them in their lies. These are the same basic mechanics as the old Infocom mysteries, although the scope of this game and the number of NPCs is several times larger than those classics. This game also comes with a full color map and some other simple in-game graphics.  There were a few places I wished the parser had understood more synonyms. I especially would have appreciated a shorthand for typing the names of the multitudinous fingerprint reports. But overall the parser was bug-free and did not detract from my desire to solve the mystery.

This game has been entered in the 26th annual interactive fiction competition.  More interactive fiction can be found at the interactive fiction database.

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