Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics
SalesBundles
Jobs
A jam submission

Present QuestView game page

A Visual Novel Life Simulator Mini Escape Room Christmas Adventure
Submitted by Errol (@elumir) — 9 days, 22 hours before the deadline
Add to collection

Play game

Present Quest's itch.io page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Overall Enjoyment (not an average)#14.1794.179
Beginners Tutorial (Optional)#14.3934.393
Fun#24.0714.071
Puzzles#24.0364.036
Story#24.4294.429
Graphics#34.7864.786
Interactivity#34.0004.000
Christmas Spirit#93.5363.536

Ranked from 28 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Development Time
22 days

Native Language
English

Opinion of Adventuron
Love it!

Parent / Child Team?
No

Prior Coding Experience
First Game Jam, and first Pixel Adventure game (but have coding experience)

Leave a comment

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.

Comments

Host(+1)

Well done on your win Errol.

Developer

Thank you, Chris! ^_^

Submitted(+1)

Others seemed to like it very much, but it didn’t click with me.

I think the main problem is the dissonnance I felt between each part of the game.

  • The name Present Quest implies a game where the goal is to collect presents, but it’s not the case at all, so I think it’s not well chosen.
  • The various stats implies that there will be some management in the game (which tells me that I should make sure I’m never hungry and that I should think to save regularly), but I had the feeling it was very difficult, if not impossible, to starve or run out of energy (the game always forces you to eat when you are hungry). Moreover, I didn’t find it enhanced the rest of the game (all this UI makes me more detached from the story and the emotional impact.)
  • The shift in tone and mood was pretty brutal. I know, the game warned me, but since the game is not advertised as such (for me, “Present Quest, a visual novel Christmas adventure” with cute graphics is not a game that will have such a mood swing), it’s a bit jarring. Maybe it’s the point of the game, to show that anything can happen suddenly, but then I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a Christmas jam.
  • The puzzles were too arbitrary, unlikely and disconnected from the plot to my taste.

I also found the puzzles too difficult, and Pel was not always really helping, because while I knew what to do, the answer I was finding did not match. (For example, for the bus puzzle, she tells me I should follow the line to make numbers, but I already understood that part; it’s just that the numbers I was finding by doing exactly what she was saying didn’t give the right answer, so I guessed semi-randomly in the end. The game states that Pel eventually gives you the answer, but that’s not true, she only tells you how to find it.) And for the puzzle requiring some 80s culture, I wasn’t even born at that time, so it was not too evident/easy to find the answer (fortunately, Wikipedia exists :p).

On the good sides, it was well written and the characters were compelling. And technically-speaking, the game was really impressive, with all that UI and animations.

So for me, while a good game, I don’t think it worked as a whole, neither as a Christmas game. Or maybe I’m just not the target audience, since it looks I’m the only one thinking that.

Developer

Thanks for the detailed comments! And I totally understand where you are coming from, and to be honest, I don't think you are the only one who doesn't like the game. I'm sure there are many who dislike the game, for similar critiques. :)

In fact, I even went into this jam knowing the game I am creating wouldn't be for the jam's audience. For the rating of 'overall enjoyment', I'm pretty sure I'd be scoring low across many players. :D However, I wanted to create this game, and I wanted to attempt to meld escape room like puzzles with a narrative. It's a difficult thing to do and although I'm somewhat happy with it, I know it's not perfect by any means, and as you said, you found it disconnected. 

Many people have asked about the title, and a few want the title to reflect what the game is really about. I'm still thinking on that, because I didn't want to telegraph the plot twist. The title, the graphics, and the UI was put there so people would be distracted, as Terry would be, from what the real ending is. And the shift and tone would be very brutal, just as it was for Terry.

However, I also know people who want to be able to figure out the ending (like a good detective novel), and were displeased about that as well. I have heard from a number of people it was too jarring.

Also a good question though, is such a game appropriate for a Christmas jam?

If anything, I have had the chance to get involved in a lot of discussion about the game. Discussion on its merits, discussions on its failings, and how people feel about what the game is attempting to do in general. And I always enjoy such discussions!

Submitted(+1)

Actually I didn’t dislike the game, I still enjoyed my play, but I don’t think it really fits the jam.

I didn’t want to telegraph the plot twist

I understand, but there’s a difference between “not to telegraph” and “straight up lying”! :p (I guess I’m exagerating a bit.)

And the shift and tone would be very brutal, just as it was for Terry

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the shift to be brutal, in fact it works OK in the game, but again, maybe not for this Christmas jam.

For the rating of ‘overall enjoyment’, I’m pretty sure I’d be scoring low across many players.

You placed first! So I guess people mainly rated the overall enjoyment according on the technical/graphical/writing achievement than on the Christmas spirit. (I have to tell I’m a bit disapointed with my own placement.)

Developer

I'm trying to figure out how you're quoting... OH! It's under the Paragraph symbol...

I don’t think it really fits the jam.

Understood. There is something to be said about expectations, and I did completely mislead with the expectations I set.
And yes, I am surprised on the results! I am thankful some people enjoyed my game though!

Host(+1)

Maybe "present" refers for the protagonists quest to find his present reality?

I also find that hiding the intention of the game requires somewhat of a bait and switch. If you are thinking presents and Christmas, then you might not be seeing the foreshadowing because you are so focused on what you think the game is, rather than what it was always intended to be.

I was quite shocked with the reveal, and watched a youtube playthrough, where the youtuber was reduced to tears. The tone shift is brutal, but I think within the story of the game, and from the POV of the protagonist, it has to be brutal. The trigger warning I would replace with an age gate warning. I do think the trigger warning somewhat reveals something of "the twist", in a game that otherwise would appear to have zero twists.

It's not a typical "text adventure" game at all, and if I were rating it purely as a text adventure, I would probably rate it quite low.

With regards to judging, "overall enjoyment" is vague enough to allow judges artistic license on why they enjoyed something. An emotional connection, together with a shock twist, together with rather fun (but few) puzzles, is enough for myself (and others it seems) to find the game enjoyable.

I really like object based puzzle games, and this isn't one of those. I don't think my enjoyment of this particular (well written) game would change my overall preferences, because I don't think that someone could take this template and apply it to more games of the same ilk either. It needs many ingredients to work just right. A criticism I would have is that I would have liked a few more puzzles - a bit more meat on the bone, but in order to receive the emotional payoff, I think that leanness actually works in its favour. 

Probably not a game you'd want to play with your 8 year old on Christmas Eve, but as a game for adults, I found it a very refreshing change.

Developer
 The trigger warning I would replace with an age gate warning.

Ohhh, age gate. Hmmm, I should look into putting that in too. I do know someone who played it with their 8 year old.

Submitted(+1)

Loved the very creative puzzles - the hint system worked very well and I definitely needed it in a few instances! Echoing previous sentiments that the linearity of the text adventure game came off unusual at first, but I think the story beats made it worth it. 

Developer

Thank you, Quizlock! And yes, a number of people brought up the linearity, which was imposed because of time, as opposed to design. I'm normally not a fan of linearity myself either. Ha!

Submitted(+1)

I really enjoyed this unusual, linear game.  (I was a little confused by the ending - had there been a time skip or was the earlier game all just Terry's imagination?)  Totally flummoxed by most of the puzzles at first but the hints are great.

I'm an '80s pop music fan too so loved all those touches :)

Developer

Hi, Dee! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, there is a time skip at the end. Having said that, people have been giving me alternate theories that consistently fit with what has been presented, so I like hearing everything!

And I'm all for '80s music. :D

Submitted(+1)

This might be the black sheep of the game jam! Right off the bat, it's impressive that you managed to create such an off-target but still polished and enjoyable game with the Adventuron engine. The graphics are very well done, and really fit the mood of the rest of the game. At first I thought it was going to be almost a straight visual novel, but it quickly started to remind me more of the Professor Layton series; a bit of story, a bit of exploration, a puzzle, and then repeat.

It did seem strange to me just how much Pel had managed to insert herself into your time at the office, even once I read the epilogue. And despite all the indications given on the game's page and in the game itself, I didn't want to call her because it felt like asking for a hint to me, and I wanted to solve the various puzzles on my own. However, I don't think that anyone would be able to solve the password puzzle without calling her at least twice! Still, I had a very fun time with this game.

Developer

Hello, Verdant! Thank you so much for playing! And you are correct, you need to call Pel for the first puzzle. I wanted to normalize that it's okay to call her. (And also, a lot of people didn't realize they could continue to call her, so I mentioned it multiple times). I do, however, understand the need to not ask for hints. Hah, I'm the same way!

In regards to Pel being at your work, my wife has come to my work before, multiple times. Sometimes, she has to wait for me, and she may chat to other people. Similar with my daughters. :)

Submitted

Really cool idea. Implementation of the interactive story is very nice. The fact you have to ring the wife to get clues is brilliant. 

Nicely done. 

Developer(+1)

Thank you! Btw, one of my beta testers reminded me to put 'ring' as an alias. So many words you don't think of when programming parser-based games.

(1 edit)

It’s accessible enough for people new to puzzles. It’s whimsical and cute and keeps your curiosity piqued

Developer

Thank you so much! ^_^

Show post...

I loved the graphics and found the differnet IF concept interesting. I'd like to see more games in this style. 

It didn't feel too Christmassy but I only managed to get as far as the bus stop. I couldn't figure out how to plan my route. I assume the Christmas bit came later in the adventure.  

Calling Pel was an interesting way of dishing out hints but I felt she was a bit too patronising. No girlfriend would ever be that way.

Developer (1 edit)

Thank you! I'm sorry you couldn't figure out the bus stop. I've been tweaking the puzzles to make them more accessible, but I need to keep trying.

If you keep calling Pel, she starts to tell you more and more hints until the answer, if that helps.

Also, Pel is your wife. You tend to get more sarcastic when you've been married for a long time. :D

(2 edits) (+1)

great game, very nice mechanisms, puzzles and story :)

I was really looking  forward to give a gift to Pel :o

just a detail, at first I thought `RESET` accepted number (since there is no error) that we had to find, maybe it would be better to have `RESET -` but it's fine as it is with the tips of Pel.

also in the `hack` puzzle, I had an issue at one time (I reproduced in this transcript line 495: gist transcript), when it happened in the play-through I just called Pel and it worked again.

Developer

Thank you! Oooh, you put your transcript in gist... I should do that with transcripts, what a smart idea. 

And I just noticed you were trying to get to Gord's machine from Gord's machine. I thought I tested that, but then again, maybe I only tested Terry to Terry's machine. Good catch! Thank you so much! I'll get that fixed.

(+1)

This is a lovely looking and very well written game with quite an unusual format for Adventuron - one of the most original things I've seen done with it, in fact. I like your characters (Gord is hilarious - I could talk to him all day) and the relationship with Pel is sweet, if veering a little too far into the saccharine for my taste.  But I suppose this is a Christmas fairy tale after all.

Your experience of escape rooms really shows here: the puzzles are clever and well implemented.  Unfortunately, I found them just a bit too hard and a major interruption to the gameplay while I struggled to progress, since the player is locked into each puzzle until it is completed.  I'm not very familiar with these sorts of puzzles and found them a bit frustrating.  Pel helps (a really well implemented progressive hint system, and I enjoyed that you even provided a response to getting her name wrong which, of course, I did) but I would have preferred a way to leave and come back to puzzles, or skip them altogether. But maybe that wouldn't work with the structure of the game.

In any case, and despite those negatives, it is a very smoothly implemented and enjoyable game. Well done!

Developer

Alllooo, Christopher! Thank you so much for your comments. I was worried a lot about the accessibility of the puzzles and the audience this was intended for and did heavy beta testing, but still didn't find enough people who were NOT puzzle enthusiasts (since that's the normal audience I interact with).

At the same time, I didn't want my puzzle people to veer too far off from the task at hand (by being able to leave puzzles) because the adventure game format was foreign to them. 

So it was difficult both ways. Ha! Still, it was a fun exercise for me to attempt, and I learned a lot. 

(Also, the relationship with Pel is based on my relationship with my wife. And I know that it's a bit much for those around us. So I have to apologize to many people for sharing that to a wider audience. :D )

(+1)

Had an initial go on this game during a live stream, and really enjoyed it. Get the lowdown of the initial few activities here, Errol if it's too much of a spoiler please delete - it's just fascinating to see how the mind works with a new, fresh off the press adventure. We'll do a more focused playing of 'Present Quest' soon.

Developer

Thank you, Rich! And I've made some updates to remove the ambiguity of that first puzzle too! Thank you so much for looking at it.

Submitted(+1)

I love the concept and never even considered this style of game using Adventuron. The graphics are superb!

 I am really struggling to understand the bus map. I suspect it is really easy and I'm being a bit thick!

Developer (1 edit)

Thank you! And no! You're not thick! Keep on calling Pel for hints! :)