IFComp 2007: Lord Bellwater’s Secret

Sam Gordon brings us skulduggery in a Victorian manor. Spoilers follow the break.

Here’s another standing tradition: the one-room game. You’re a servant skulking about in your master’s study looking for evidence of foul play in the suspicious deaths of the previous Lord Bellwater and one of the housemaids. (The protagonist is mainly interested in avenging Elsie’s death, though; one gets the impression that if aristocrats want to go around murdering each other, that’s their own business.)

The study is a nice thick soup of information: the first half or so of my time playing the game was spent unearthing a series hidden compartments containing documents giving a mixture of backstory and clues to finding the next hidden compartment. The writing is good. The detail is there. His Lordship’s bookshelves, for example, contain 1200 books. You don’t need to examine them individually, but you can if you want to, and the game gives a good illusion that they all have individual names and descriptions. I don’t really believe there are 1200 titles, but there are certainly more than I had the patience to read.

The second half of my time was spent on a single puzzle, escaping the room after accidentally waking the household at the end. I tried multiple failed approaches to this before hitting the hints. I can imagine liking the game a lot less if I got stuck earlier than this, but I didn’t.

Interestingly, the game keeps track of your location within the room. If you do anything with the desk, you automatically step over to it, and the room description changes to mention what’s sitting on the desk. I like this device. I recall something similar in Shade, another one-room game. I don’t think that was exactly the same as this, but I could be mistaken.

Rating: 7

2 Comments so far

  1. Merk on 24 Oct 2007

    I was fortunate that I figured out exactly how to escape the room before I actually *needed* to escape the room. In retrospect, I don’t know how I did it. I wasn’t following any clues. A whim just led me to the right starting point, and when I poked around, I found what I needed. I immediately tried doing the *exact* couple of things you have to do with that item, and in the end, was told that I still needed to gather more evidence. So, when the time came to get away, it just meant repeating what I’d already done.

    That might be why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I never got stuck for long, didn’t need hints or the walkthrough at all (although I went there later looking for some kind of “better” ending that doesn’t really exist), and had a pretty good time of it.

  2. ralphmerridew on 26 Oct 2007

    It has about 45 different books implemented.

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