The Dink Network

Legend of the Dink III (The) - The Fall of Imperial Seth

A port in Port Village. From the COTPATD project.
September 3rd, 2009
Score : 5.0 fair
This dmod is supposed to be a demo of an upcoming full version of the game, so naturally it only includes the first part of the story. Unfortunately, I can't say it whet my appetite too much.

But first, the Good:

Having Dink start out with good weapons, four health potions, and hellfire is a nice touch: instead of working your way up from the bottom, you work with what you got.

Meeting familiar characters from the original game also adds a nice sense of familiarity to the game. This draws in players of the original game.

The ploy of having a house in view when you first emerge from the tunnels is a good technique to lead players in the right direction, in an otherwise open map where you may easily start feeling lost.

The Bad:

First, the conversations are full of spelling errors, typos, and grammatical errors, and the like. There is a difference between deliberate slang and genuine typos; the former can add a lot of atmosphere to the game, but the latter is just distracting and prevents you from immersing into the game. In this day and age of global online communities, it is really no excuse not to find someone who can help you spellcheck and proofread if your native language is not English.

The scenery is also not very well laid out. It's pretty, for sure, but there are many hardness issues, and too many pointless screens with nothing special in them. There *is* a certain value to scenery screens---the main purpose being giving the player a sense of space and adding to the atmosphere. But having too many of them is unnecessary, and tends to make the game boring. There are also tiling errors, which are visually very distracting. Again, detracting from the immersiveness.

Next, the conversations try to imitate the humour of the original Dink game, but ends up being vulgar for no good reason. The original was much more entertaining, and as other dmods have shown, it is possible to retain that or even do better---but this one fails. The author would do well to note that often, subtle references, like in the original game, are much more funny than in-your-face f-bombs and vulgarity just for the sake of it. F-words aside, there is also much depth lacking from the conversations. What the characters say feels like filler material, rather than helping to add personality to the people you meet.

Then the puzzles. While it's understandable that a demo must necessarily be short (it's only a demo), the puzzles here feel like they were thrown in just because otherwise the player would just walk straight to the finish in 5 minutes. They are poorly motivated, and require an arbitrary, predetermined sequence of things to be done. For example, finding a wallet ... requires talking to right person (which essentially requires you to walk all over the map talking to everyone just to find who knows the right information), and that person essentially says that he saw it in the forest and just walked off. Very arbitrary. Then you finally get to the location where the wallet is, you witness a slayer jump out of some bushes, grab the wallet, and disappear. And here's the annoying thing: the wallet only magically appears after you talk to the right person, presumably because otherwise the player would miss the story. If you wander into the area by accident, you would see no wallet, and nothing to indicate that there was a hole behind the bushes large enough for a slayer to fit through. This makes the puzzle feel very contrived, like the author was forcing you to do things in the preconceived sequence even though there is no real logical reason things *had* to be done in that order. There was no possibility of the player stumbling on the cave, and, seeing nothing to be gained at that point, leave, and later when he realizes that the lost item was there, remember the cave and bingo, the solution occurs to him. It's moments like this that makes puzzles worthwhile; unfortunately, the author missed out on the opportunity here. Furthermore, the statue in the cave felt really out-of-place, as did the fence. There was no reason for that unlikely setup, except that the author wanted the add a riddle to prevent the player from reaching Big Mutha Slayer too quickly. I must say I have a lot of pity for that beast; no wonder it was so obese, if it was confined into that tiny area for who knows how long, waiting for some hapless hero to show up and need to find a wallet, and then waiting for one of its smaller ilk to steal the item and hand it over the fence. I guess all those other slayers must be household servants bringing food to Big Mutha to keep her from starving to death behind a picket fence that, by all reason, should've been immediately torn apart by a beast that size.

The second puzzle wasn't *too* bad, but again, it was a matter of talking to every single person in town to find that one guy who knows what you need to know. This wouldn't have been so bad if the NPCs were at least entertaining to talk to, but unfortunately, the humor has worn out after the first time.

The third puzzle was ... well, I suppose *some* people find it funny, but in all honesty, it was just another arbitrary task randomly thrown into the mix so that the player couldn't just walk through to the finish. There is a lack of the sense of discovery, the sense of plot development, that engages the player. If the rest of the game is going to be like this, then I'm sorry to say that it doesn't sound very appetizing at all.