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Self-Contained: Shifter's Box

Browsing the lovely pages at AGS I found this recent adventure release, Shifter's Box, by Ben Chandler, creator of the cute Annie Android. It's the story of a young lady, Sally, who discovers a mysterious box in the park. Prising it open, she finds herself dragged through into a series of other worlds.

It works nicely. Each location is one screen wide, so there's none of the tiresome traipsing that slows down many AGS games (including Annie Android, as it happens). The challenge is to find a new way to open the box, and thus a new area to explore, ultimately trying to get Sally back home.

The puzzles are pleasingly smart, if not especially tough. Each is well designed, and satisfying to solve - which, and I'll say it again, is something missing from 95% of professional adventure releases. I would love it, so very, very much, if anyone developing a professional adventure would trawl through the AGS archives, find the talented puzzle designers, and hire them. Perhaps that way we'd not see the key-lock-newspaper-paperclip puzzle ever again.

I'd like to have seen more puzzles require visiting previous locations to solve, since all are accessible throughout. It would have added slightly more depth. And there are quite a few 'look at' responses missing. But this remains a splendid little game, with some lovely pontificating at the end. And it's all doubly charming for the narration of Victorian gentleman, Ebenezer Leary. Worth a look.

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John Walker

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Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, we killed John out of jealousy. He now runs buried-treasure.org

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