Lock & Key once again proves Adam Cadre's mastery of the IF genre and his uncanny ability to invent unexpected but always pleasant twists that make his games very difficult to pigeonhole, but also a blast to play.
I had a tough time deciding whether or not to discuss the game?s neat twist here, because it could be giving away too much. But I decided to mention it anyway because the ?typical IF? fa?ade that the game begins with is quite short, and the neat ?gimmick? is basically the whole game. So be warned: if you want to discover on your own the neat trick that makes this wonderful game a not-so-IF-anymore classic, stop reading this review and go play it NOW.
Okay, here?s the beef: the game starts off like a typical IF game ? you are a master robber who has been caught and thrown in a dank cell a fantasy/medieval-style dungeon. After you figure out how to escape (HINT: look at everything ? the walls, the ceiling, etc.), the game turns into something completely unexpected: a cool dungeon-building exercise similar to Dungeon Keeper and the trap-laying portions of The Wheel of Time, where you are given a number of traps and 100,000 crowns to buy them with. It?s not really like those games, though, because there is only one correct solution. Your goal is to figure out the correct sequence of traps that will eventually kill Boldo, the pesky adventurer who keeps escaping your traps. Think of the babel fish puzzle in Hitchhiker?s Guide to The Galaxy, but much more complicated. The game uses the multimedia capabilities of Glulx interpreter sparingly but effectively, with an attractive graphical blueprint of the dungeon you can use to lay down traps.
I had a blast playing Lock & Key, although it?s a but unfortunate that the game was linear ? with the number of traps available I was hoping for alternate solutions. I can?t think of any major gripe to make about the game, except that it?s quite short, and may annoy anyone who dislikes trial-and-error-and-restore games. Still, the gimmick is wonderfully unique and interesting, the text is well-written and funny (especially the descriptions of Boldo and the guards who unwittingly aid his escape), and the puzzles difficult but fair (you are constantly given hints as to whether you are going in the right direction or not). Overall, Lock & Key is another fun, short, and unique game that every IF fan simply must play. Two thumbs up, way up!