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Botanical Gardens - Review

Review by Jonathan O


Last edited:

This is quite an entertaining game once it gets started, with a (rather linear) plot involving some genetically modified plants. However, it can be quite frustrating initially, as it's hard to know what you should do. (It may be that when originally published it had some documentation which helped you with this.) In common with other games written with the Adventurescape system, the things you need to interact with are almost all shown separately from the location description; this does make it a bit easier to cut down the possibilities of what to do and where.

Those who hate mazes will be relieved to find that the one in this game is extremely easy to map, being completely rectangular. An annoyance, though, is that sometimes an exit shown onscreen turns out to be impassable - why not just remove it from the list of exits? I also found it annoying that the NPCs are almost always referred to by the silly nicknames Nitty and Gritty - why not just use their surnames?

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 3/10)

As with other games written with the Adventurescape system, it's just a two-word parser. An annoying feature is that if you type more than one space between the two words, or enter a space after a single-word command, you will not be understood - only a little extra programming would have been needed to fix this. Also common to Adventurescape games is the use of just the first four letters for verbs and the first three for nouns. The rather clumsy input ON COMPUTER is needed at one point, and similarly OFF SWITCH at another. Apart from that there's just one example of guess-the-verb, which may be soluble by looking at the source code (I haven't tried this).

Atmosphere (Rating: 5/10)

Not bad, although the fact (mentioned in the main review) that generally you cannot interact with things mentioned only in the location description rather affects this negatively. It gets better as the game progresses, with events such as a shooting to move things along.

Cruelty (Rating: Polite)

Early in the game it is hard, if not impossible, to be killed; later you are more likely to die, especially in the endgame. It's not easy to get stuck otherwise, although entering the wrong code at one point can be disastrous - but I think that would be obvious if it happened to you.

Puzzles (Rating: 3/10)

The biggest puzzle (apart from working out what to do to start with) is getting through a window, which is tricky without being all that interesting. The one maze is easy to map, and there is a set of codes which are very straightforward to read.

Overall (Rating: 4/10)

The middle and ending are quite exciting (if you play online you might find that not being able to save is quite a nuisance, as you will get killed rather easily). A lot of the locations in the Gardens are just scenery.