Graphics - %
Sound - %
Fun - %
Depth - %
The game is too easy for hardened adventurers but the rest of us will enjoy the linear hand holding nature of the narrative and the great production values. If this game does not get you into adventure games then nothing will.
User Review( votes)
Having reinvigorated the classic text adventure scene in 2018 with his science fiction based title Hibernated 1: This Place is Death, Stefan Vogt is back with a new graphical text adventure that aims to make the genre further accessible to the general retro gaming community.
The Curse of Rabenstein is the first release by Puddle Soft (formed by the remaining active members of Pond) and follows the path of some great Level 9 adventures, represented with modern day production and design values that better align themselves to meet today’s casual retro gamer’s expectations.
Set in 1862, you play the role of a traveller returning from Zurich. While taking the exhausting return trip across the Rhine, your carriage suddenly stops in the middle of nowhere and you find out that your Coachman has lost his way. While he takes some time to find his bearings, you decide to take a stroll around the forest but an unnatural encounter sends you in a panic running back to your coach. It might be best if you find a place to settle in for the night.
If you have never played a text adventure before or (like me) if you haven’t had much success with the genre in the past then The Curse of Rabenstein does its best to make things as easy as possible for you with the use of two word parser logic. For example, if you want to get your horses to the nearby stable, all you need to type in is RIDE HORSES and, assuming the stable is unlocked, the game will progress with the horses placed in the stable. Some commands are interchangeable, such as GET and TAKE, and the parser only uses five letter abbreviations so if you want to speak to your Coachman you can simply type TALK COACH.
The game world within The Curse of Rabenstein is not large and as such there is no need to keep a map to track your location. The game is quite linear and provides plenty of subtle hints to guide you along the right track, which ultimately goes a long way to avoid frustration that goes along with being stuck at one spot. This all makes the experience quite engaging to the beginner adventurer as you are able to visit many locations without necessarily having executed any commands that progress the storyline.
Getting back to the story at hand, the narrative sees you heading into the nearby town of Rabenstein to explore locations such as a graveyard, a church and the local inn as you look to find a place to stay for night. As you talk to the local villagers and the resident priest, you get a sense that all is not right with the town, especially when you investigate the distant screams from your Coachman. It’s not until you do get a good night’s rest that you start to realise exactly what is going on and that all is not as it appeared from the previous night.
Vogt’s storytelling is easy to follow and quite engaging as you look to unravel the mystery ahead of you. Those experienced with text adventures will have no problem completing The Curse of Rabenstein and, perhaps, will be disappointed with how easy it is to complete. The rest of us will love the game for not making the puzzles too cryptic, not allowing our character to die and for giving us the sense of how enjoyable adventure games can be.
The decision to add graphics to this adventure is very sensible when it comes to attracting newcomers to the genre. Every location is accompanied by an attractive and well drawn image of the environment in front of you. Naturally, the Amiga graphics will be more vibrant and detailed than the C64 version and this ultimately did draw me to spend more time with the Amiga version (the story, puzzles, outcomes, etc are the same on both versions). In case you are wondering, the game does not have any sound at all, and that’s a pity as playing the game with an inbuilt eerie tune would definitely enhance the overall gaming experience.
Overall, The Curse of Rabenstein is a very good adventure game aimed at the casual player. I enjoy that Vogt has progressed the commercial sensibility with his game design so that his work can be enjoyed by more people, and as a result I will certainly be looking forward to his future releases.
Programming & Story: Stefan Vogt