Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Adventure of the Week: The Beast of Torrack Moor (1988)

It's that time of year, when I like to play something that fits the All Hallow's Eve theme, and a recent reader recommendation brings me to Linda Wright's The Beast of Torrack Moor, originally published by Marlin Games in 1988 and re-released by Zenobi Software for the 128K Sinclair Spectrum ZX computer.  I've played Ms. Wright's Cloud 99, and enjoyed her atmospheric writing and sense of humor, so I'm looking forward to this one.

This is an investigative adventure with a monster theme, set in the English countryside.  A brief prologue wakes us up and sits us blearily at our desk at work, where a strange envelope arrives.  We work at a small regional newspaper, it seems, with an editor who's pressuring us for a decent story, something beyond the usual local interest coverage the Lowsea Gazette usually features.

I generally encourage interested readers to sample these adventure games before reading about my experience, and I always do so when the game is of sufficient quality to merit your time.  This is one of the good ones -- the 128K Speccy was a great platform for text adventures, with a decent amount of text onscreen and plenty of memory for prose and illustrations, even without a disk drive.  The Beast of Torrack Moor uses illustrations to great effect, providing vital clues within them, and Ms. Wright's writing is atmospheric and polished.  I got stuck in a few places and was grateful for Dorothy's CASA walkthrough, but it's not an overly difficult game, though it does have its share of old-school fatal dead ends where missing something early on makes it impossible to finish.

Whatever you decide, when you proceed beyond this point, beware... there are sure to be...

***** SPOILERS AHEAD! *****

As the story begins, our area of the office contains a desk and a black swivel chair, as well as the aforementioned envelope.  Doors lead south to the street and east to the office of our editor, one Mr. C.D. Slime.  We have nothing in INVENTORY, but we're wearing some thin trainers, your denim jeans and a lilac shirt.  The player character is never given a specific gender, but I'm going to assume we're a female reporter for this one given its authorship.

The desk has a drawer and, possibly, woodworm.  The parser refuses to let us OPEN DESK, but OPEN DRAWER yields a bus timetable, a pencil, an electricity bill, and a notepad.  The bill has been paid, the notepad is full of illegible scrawlings, and READ TIMETABLE produces a barely legible graphic illustration, indicating a bus to L??? Street at 9:48 and somewhere else starting with a P at 10:48.  The strange envelope is addressed to LOWSEA GAZETTE, LONG STREET, LOWSEA, so we'll surmise we're on Long Street and the 9:48 bus is about to arrive in seven minutes, in my playthrough so far.

The letter is from one Rose Myrtle of Puddlecombe -- how convenient, it appears we can take a bus there -- advising us of a rumored strange beast seen on the Moors, a large black animal believed to be mauling the local livestock.  This sounds like a potentially exciting story, and we have no other obvious adventuring options, so we'd probably better try to get on that bus.

It's 9:50 as I get outside, after trying to tell Mr. Slime where I'm going to no obvious response, but fortunately the bus is still here.  But it's too cold to stay outside, and we're automatically returned to the office.  EXAMINE CHAIR yields a thin anorak, and now we can WEAR ANORAK and BOARD BUS.  Off to Puddlecombe we go at 9:57 AM!

We may have just made the bus, as we find ourselves standing on the Green at the center of the tiny village of Puddlecombe at 10:58 AM.  Ernest, the Torrack Moor Ranger, recognizes us as a reporter he's talked to before, and warns us that the Beast is not worth investigating, before he trundles off north.

A picture of the signpost here indicates High Street is to the west, Church Street to the southeast, and the Moors to the northeast.  The church clock has chimed 11 o' clock, and a mobile library has pulled up nearby but hasn't opened its doors yet.  There's also a notice-board here -- it tells us the mobile library will be on the Green from 11 AM to 1 PM, and that the Ranger can tell visitors about Torrack Moor if they visit the cottage on Moor Lane.

We can travel E to enter the library, operated by a Miss U.B. Kriett, where we espy a local map.  We can't READ MAP unless we have a ticket, the librarian informs us.  As we examine other possibilities, to no effect, Miss Rose Myrtle arrives.  ASK MISS MYRTLE ABOUT LETTER produces a smile but no response, and SHOW LETTER TO MYRTLE is also unproductive.  Hmmmm.  EXAMINE MYRTLE establishes that she is A sweet little old lady, with grey hair and blue eyes, but apparently a very short memory re: her correspondence.  I hope this whole Beast business isn't just her way of complaining about local rowdies!

Exiting the library, we try to head south, but the way is blocked by a closed door that turns out be locked if we try to OPEN DOOR.  So we'll head west into the High Street, as winds blow and clouds loom overhead.  There are some notices stuck on the doors here -- the Estate Agent is open from 9 to 5, and an establishment known simply as The Stores keeps the same hours but closes for lunch from 1 to 2 PM.

We'll head north into the offices of Connum and Fleesum, the Estate Agents.  The youthful desk clerk offers nothing comprehensible in the way of remarks, and we can't BUY HOUSE, so we'll move along for now.

On the south side of the street we can visit The Stores, a shop with inflated prices and a talkative parrot perched by the door.  Items on offer include a 35mm film (black and white), a can (of baked beans), and a torch (the battery-operated British variety.)  I BUY CAN, and then try to BUY TORCH, but I haven't got enough money.  So I'll have to try come up with some more, I guess.

We'll head further down to the west end of the High Street, where it meets the road from Lowsea and branches off into a narrow lane to the north.  A building on the south side of the street is occupied by MR. A. BITTERN, VETERINARY SURGEON, open 10 to 5.

We can enter the vet's waiting room, where a receptionist prevents us from going further south; we must have an animal in need of attention to proceed, so we'll come back later.  We can't travel further west on the road back to Lowsea on foot, so we'll head north onto Quarry Lane.

There are some pebbles here, which we can take before we continue north to the Old Quarry.  There's not much to do here among the blasted rockfaces, but there's a small shack to the west -- unfortunately, it seems the door is closed and latched on the other side, so perhaps it serves as an exit from some other location, or else we need to break the window somehow; my bare hands prove insufficient.

Making our way back to the village green, we head north to The Puddle Arms, a pub open 11 AM to 11 PM, VOTED BEST INN 1865.  I really like Ms. Wright's way with words inside the pub, where we see that "several stools are perched precariously in an imaginative line."

The publican, described simply as Plump, doesn't seem interested in talking -- this community is rather tight-lipped -- so we'll continue exploring the map.  Walking southeast of the Green takes us toward the church, as we noted earlier, and we find a poster along Church Lane promoting a JUMBLE SALE 2 PM HERE TODAY.  So we'll probably want to visit later on, it's about 12:30 in my playthrough at this point.

South of Church Lane we find a pretty garden, and Myrtle Cottage, with a bell by the door.  There's another garden southwest of Church Lane, the Vicarage Garden, and we see the Reverend S. Ermon passing by, as he gives us a brief nod.  We can't enter the vicarage -- Ms. Wright's genteel approach makes it impolite and therefore impossible to just OPEN DOOR and barge in -- but if we RING BELL at Myrtle Cottage, Miss Myrtle answers and invites us inside.

We can't SHOW LETTER or SHOW ENVELOPE to any effect, or generically TALK MYRTLE, but if we TALK MYRTLE ABOUT LETTER, we learn that she has seen the beast again, near the farm, a big, black, fast-moving animal she saw jumping over a gate.  She says that the vet thinks it might be a wild cat.  I can't seem to prod her into any other meaningful conversation, so we'll move on for now.

We can travel northeast from Church Lane to a path leading north to the east end of Moor Lane.  There are passages in several directions here, so we'll head east first, to the farmyard where Farmer Lamb seems worried.  We can ASK LAMB ABOUT BEAST to learn that he saw it recently, and it took one of his ewes the other night.  The farmer encourages us to confirm his story by talking to the vet, as the Ranger seemed useless when he reported the incident.  Visiting the barn to the northeast proves uneventful, and we should probably finish exploring town before we head east along the public footpath to the Moors.

There's a small house to the southeast of Moor Lane, which we can't enter at the moment, and an attractive garden to the north where the impressive home of Dr. A.M. Sawly sits.  We can't enter the home, but we can travel into the side garden to the northeast and see the doctor inside the conservatory.  I try to KNOCK DOOR, but he doesn't seem to hear us.

The west end of Moor Lane adjoins a Scout Hut to the north, with a locked door for which we don't have a key.  So I'll head back down to the southeast to visit the church, as it's now 1:56 and almost time for the jumble sale to open.  The church porch to the south features a notice board indicating that Miss Myrtle is on flower rotation duty this week.  I try to KNOCK DOOR, but nobody answers.  To the east of the church is the cemetery, and a bench which on closer examination holds a carrier bag.  This proves to be perfect timing, as when I try to pick it up I have run into the game's inventory limit; it's become very handy to be able to PUT CAN IN BAG, for example.

So where is this jumble sale?  It's 2:31 PM and the church is still locked up?  Ah, there's a church hall directly east of Church Lane by the sign.  The sale is crowded with old dears pushing and shoving in order to get the best of the bargains, and we see Miss Myrtle and Reverend Ermon here.  Trying to quiz the clergyman about the Beast only yields an errand -- he's left a box of books in the Scout Hut, and gives us an iron key so we can fetch them.  Miss Myrtle is promoting a raffle to win a rug, only tenpence for a ticket, and we apparently have enough money to buy one so we'll do that.

I run over to the scout hut, which is in fact a boy scout facility.  The cardboard box is there, as expected, and contains the old books as well as a battered pan, which we'll take for our troubles.  The books are boring and weathered, so I'll just deliver them to the sale -- nothing obvious happens after I DROP BOX there, however.

What now?  We haven't visited the actual moor yet, so let's take a look out there.  A field east of the farmhouse has paths leading east and southeast, and I find Farmer Lamb here, though he has nothing new to say.  A meadow the east features a strong smell of rotting meat.

South of the meadow is some rough pasture, with a gate leading east and a deep ditch to the west.  The ditch is man-made, full of stagnant water, and there's a  man lying on the bank, groaning.  I try to HELP MAN, but the parser advises us to get a doctor.  The doctor is still in the conservatory, and still doesn't hear our knock.  I try to BREAK GLASS or KICK DOOR to get his attention, but that doesn't help.  I try to KNOCK WINDOW, PULL DOOR, and SHOUT DOCTOR, all to no avail.  I guess the fellow in the ditch will have to cling to life on his own a little while longer.

The rough pasture's gate is chained shut and can't be opened.  The man in the ditch appears to be a twitcher, that is, a birdwatcher; I had to look that bit of U.K. slang up!  I ASK MAN ABOUT BEAST, and he asks us to fetch a doctor as he thinks his leg is broken; he fell into the ditch while trying to take a photo of a rare woodpecker, so this is not a Beast-related event.  I try to ASK DOCTOR ABOUT MAN, but he can't hear me from outside.  I ASK LAMB ABOUT DOCTOR -- and the farmer tells us he's deaf, but a good doctor.

The doctor has his back to us as he potters with his plants.  CAST SHADOW is unrecognized by the parser, and WAVE DOCTOR is understood but ineffective.  I try to THROW PAN and THROW KEY, but oddly enough, THROW PEBBLES is the one that works -- he doesn't hear them, but sees them falling on the glass and comes outside.  I then try to TELL DOCTOR ABOUT TWITCHER, but of course he can't hear.  DOCTOR, FOLLOW ME and LEAD DOCTOR don't do the trick either; I then WRITE ABOUT TWITCHER and SHOW NOTEPAD TO DOCTOR, with similar non-results.  I finally manage to SHOUT DOCTOR ABOUT TWITCHER -- he's not completely deaf, actually, and now he rushes off to aid the injured bird-watcher.

An ambulance rushes past me as I head back to the ditch, and when I arrive, the injured man is gone, but there's a camera here which may come in handy if we ever track down the Beast.  I check out the pasture gate again, and this time think to CLIMB GATE, reaching a steep path on the other side at the same time it starts to rain.  We're getting drenched, and are advised to don a rain-proof garment.  I return to the scout hut, but am already pretty soaked; it's 6:27 PM, and a lot of other establishments are now closed.

Fortunately, Miss Myrtle welcomes us into her cottage, and it turns out we've won the raffle and are now in possession of one large rug, very warm by the look of it.  It's now getting dark outside; I try to DROP RUG and LAY RUG or SLEEP in several places, but that doesn't prove useful.  Can we get into the old shack by the quarry?  I still can't BREAK WINDOW WITH PAN or with anything else I have in inventory, it seems.

At 7:35, it's getting too dark to see anything at all, and as I try to move around, I eventually fall and break my leg.  The Ranger bundles me off to the hospital for a lengthy recuperation, and this adventure is unhappily at an end.  I have achieved only 15 out of 150 points in 548 turns, and will have to do much better on the next round.

Restarting from a mid-afternoon save, I run into the Ranger in Moor Lane.  He again says the beast is a "load of waffle" and in his opinion "a large fox" before wandering off.  I visit Ye Olde Tea Shoppe south of the Green, where there's not much to do but BUY TEA and take the plastic teaspoon afterward.  I EXAMINE ANORAK to confirm it's not rainproof, and EXAMINE POCKET to find my reporters pass and some coins.  I COUNT COINS and discover we have 60 pence at this point, so funds are very tight.

I can't afford to buy the torch in the store, but I do finally succeed in getting the Estate Agent to talk when I ASK AGENT ABOUT HOUSE.  He gives us a yale key so we can check out a property called Ivy Cottage, between Church Lane and Moor Lane.  We can READ DETAILS from some papers he provides to learn that the property is listed for 180,000 pounds.  I also EXAMINE DESK and learn that the agent's name is Ian Connum. 

So where is this house?  I have to EXAMINE HEDGES along the path between the two adjacent lanes to discover a gate to the southeast.  An overgrown garden greets us, and there's a brick here which may come in handy for breaking into the shack.  We enter the cottage to find ourselves in a decrepit living room; there's a large rucksack here, empty but useful for carrying things. 

We can enter a kitchen to the south, where a drawer has a broken handle that falls off as soon as we try to OPEN DRAWER.  The parser suggests we may need to lever it open somehow, but I seem to have nothing of use on me at the moment.

Let's open the shack with the brick if we can -- and after I shuffle inventory around, having actually filled the bag and now needing the rucksack to support further lading, I do manage to BREAK WINDOW WITH BRICK.  But as I try to OPEN DOOR, we're warned off for fear of cutting our hand.  So now we're going to need some kind of protection, it appears.

I search around some more -- EXAMINE STOOLS in the pub turns up some matches, but no gloves.  I spend my nearly-last 50p to BUY BEER in the pub, feeling refreshed, but the publican seems no more talkative than before.  No one responds to a knock on the church door, but I am able to enter the vicarage.  I try to ask the vicar about his watercolor paintings, but he sends us off to fetch the books again, as I haven't done that since restoring.  He does say the Beast is a mystery, and he's never seen it himself; he thinks the ranger is a lazy pain in the neck.  I ask him about the church, and he says he's lost his key, but Miss Myrtle has one and should be going to the church about noon.  It's 5:01 PM as I learn this, so I have a feeling I'll need another restart.  Before I do, though, I ASK MYRTLE ABOUT KEY -- but she won't let us have it, so I will indeed restart, having learned quite a bit about Puddlecombe though not much about the Beast so far.

With a fresh start and some a priori knowledge, I open the letter and take time to TELL EDITOR ABOUT LETTER before taking the bus.  He encourages us to track the beast down and get a photo, staying overnight if necessary.  He also gives us five pounds for expenses.  I also have a chance to ASK EDITOR ABOUT CAMERA, but the photographer's off sick, so we will need the bird-watcher's equipment later on, especially as I'm pretty sure five pounds won't buy any new equipment.

The bus arrives at 9:44 AM and we're on the Green at 10:45 this time.  I can COUNT MONEY this time to see that we have 6 pounds 60 with us.  The library isn't quite here yet, so I take a moment to fetch the carrier bag for convenience.  The librarian again tells me I need a ticket to look at the map -- and this time I ask her about this ticket, and she says I need to show some ID.  The Reporter's Pass isn't sufficient, as it shows no address, but we have that electric bill, and this additional evidence earns us a pink ticket.  Oddly, I still can't EXAMINE MAP -- Ms. Kriett again says we need a ticket -- but I can BORROW MAP with it.  It resembles my hand-drawn map so far, with a large unexplored area to the east of the village.

I'm unsuccessful in getting Rose Myrtle to talk about her letter here in public, but I follow her to the church -- I can't OPEN DOOR or KNOCK DOOR to any effect, but I can freely walk south into the church nave.  A table here contains some leather gloves, which Miss Myrtle says we are welcome to, as some tourist left them ages ago.  She still won't talk about the beast or her letter, however; it seems that conversation has to take place at her cottage.

I search the grass in the meadow this time, finding a dead sheep as the source of the rotting odor, and TELL LAMB ABOUT SHEEP.  He attributes it to the Beast, and gives us a large key to an old shepherd's hut down by the river, where we can shelter for the night if we go out on the Moor.  Good to know.

I get the camera and the brick, and this time succeed in opening the shack up thanks to the leather gloves -- we WEAR GLOVES and can then safely OPEN DOOR.  There's a huge chest here, containing a hammer and a leather pouch, which contains... gunpowder?  Not unusual for a quarry, actually.  I buy the can of beans and the torch, and still have 4.10 available.

I also luck into intercepting Ermon at the sale after I pick up his box of books, and he gives us some sturdy shoes for our trouble.  I replace my thin trainers with the sturdy shoes and feel much better equipped to proceed down the path east of the gate now, but I still don't have any rain gear.

We have some other puzzles to resolve first, anyway.  We can probably pry open that drawer in the ivy cottage now that we have a hammer... and yes, we can OPEN DRAWER WITH HAMMER (though PRY DRAWER WITH HAMMER doesn't work.)  We find a tin opener in the drawer, probably useful for that can of beans if we have to camp out later. 

I now examine the kitchen door more closely and see that it's bolted, not stuck -- I UNBOLT DOOR and we can now visit the back garden, where we find a ladder and an outhouse.  Some leaves rustle, and we find a tortoise there -- we can take him along -- and we also find a trowel in the outhouse.  I try using the ladder to reach the second floor of the cottage, as the stairs are unsafe and impassable, but my attempts to DROP LADDER and CLIMB LADDER and LEAN LADDER are unsuccessful.  I try to LEAN LADDER AGAINST WALL, to no avail, but am luckier when I LEAN LADDER AGAINST STAIRS instead.

This allows us to reach the bedroom above, where we can acquire an unlit candle and a blue vase.  I try to TAKE VASE, but it's too big to fit in the rucksack, so I DROP VASE and it shatters.  I forgot that old adventurer's rule!  I'll restore and leave it alone this time until I know I need it for something; I will take the candle, for now.

I am still going to be wet and chilly at this point, but I am pretty sure I'll need the matches so we'll return to the pub. There's nothing on the bar, and the publican remains untalkative, so I finally consult a walkthrough to learn that I need to SHOW PASS TO PUBLICAN.  Now he's ready to gab, though his comments seem to echo Reverend Ermon's word for word; I think this is just memory-constrained writing, not a sign of mass hypnosis or a village conspiracy.  What does change here is that, as I exit the pub, the barman tosses me a rainproof kagoule coat left by another tourist weeks earlier.  So that puzzle is solved, though it's not the most logical one in the game.

My timing is different on this pass, only 4:31 PM as I climb the gate, but it starts to rain right on cue again.  I'm able to climb up the steep path to Torrack Moor proper now, where we see several paths that exploration determines run northeast, east and southeast.  This becomes a bit of a maze, with lots of paths in multiple directions that aren't called out in the location descriptions.

I do find some notable locations -- a group of Standing Stones to the east of the moor features a tree that's too unsteady for safe climbing.  A dangerous path southward reaches a cliff-face with a path down... a very steep path, as it turns out, and the sturdy shoes are not sufficient to maintain safe footing.  Fortunately, this mistake is not inherently fatal, and we're able to scramble back up to the cliff-face.

We can snag some birch bark from trees at the north edge of the moor, but then I find myself lost and wandering in circles after I pick it up -- this, it turns out, because I put the map away to free up the inventory slot.  I also find a stout branch in the bracken along the dangerous path, and now we're able to work our way down to the river's edge.

It's 6:55 PM when I get here, after wandering too long around the moors, and I head north to see a stone hut... on the other side of the river.  We can't JUMP RIVER or CROSS RIVER, but there's a damaged bridge at the north end of this area.  Should I have brought the ladder along?  That tree up by the standing stones might be movable -- I try to PUSH TREE, and the parser suggests scraping away some of the surrounding earth.  I DIG TREE with the trowel, making a small hole, but it still won't move: "Still won't budge!  Blasted thing, isn't it?"  Hmmmm.  Maybe this is a hint that we need to blast it.

I'm able to PUT POWDER IN HOLE, but not PUT CANDLE IN POWDER.  And as I'm doing this, darkness falls and I break my leg even though I'm not trying to walk anywhere when it happens.  Interestingly, a black, cat-like creature is mentioned, lurking nearby while I'm doing this, but it repeatedly bounds off and seems uninterested in attacking.  Perhaps this Beast is not so beastly after all.

I restore to a point before I got lost in the moors, and try again.  The candle's wick is noted in its description, and I am able to REMOVE WICK.  But I can't seem to PUT WICK IN HOLE or PUT WICK IN POWDER.  Ah -- I have to ATTACH WICK TO POUCH, otherwise it's trying to use the pouch as a container.  I try to BURY POUCH for good measure after putting it in the hole, but this isn't possible, nor is it necessary -- I simply LIGHT WICK, hide behind a rock, and the tree is toppled down the eastern slope by the small explosion.

Returning to the river's edge, we find the washed-out bridge replaced by the old tree and some rocks that fell along with it, and can now cross to the hut -- well, we can cross most of the way, we have to JUMP to the eastern bank when we run out of makeshift bridge.  The shepherd's hut is nearby, but I have to GET LARGE KEY out of the bag before we can enter -- unlocking is only automatic if we have the key in primary inventory and not hidden away in the bag or rucksack.  The hut is small but dry and secure.

I try to SLEEP now, but hunger keeps us awake.  I open the can of beans with the tin opener and put them in the pan, but can't seem to PUT PAN ON FIRE or PUT PAN IN FIREPLACE.  I try to HEAT BEANS, which seems acceptable to the parser, and learn that, of course, there's no fire built yet.

The stout branch is too large to fit in the fireplace, and we're told we need some paper to help ignite the birch bark if we try to light it directly.  The electric bill can't be used for this purpose; nor can the envelope, the bus timetable, or the details about the ivy cottage.  Ack!  All this useless paper remains useless.

So what special bark-igniting paper are we missing here?  I consult Dorothy's walkthrough again, and see that we're supposed to have a newspaper with us at this point.  Hmmmmm.  Apparently I was supposed to find it in the church chancel earlier.  While thinking about where to find it, I also think to check the camera -- and it has no film, so I have to restore and catch the church while Miss Myrtle is still there as well as buy some film at The Stores.

Next try -- starting from just after I arrive in Puddlecombe -- I also remember that I didn't claim the large rug earlier, so I grab that before venturing onto the moor.  I happen to run into Miss Myrtle on my way, and she gives it to me as the raffle winner, so that took a little less time than I thought it would.

Okay!  Back we go to the shepherd's hut.  I get rained on again before remembering I need to visit the publican -- I also confirm that we need to buy a beer (making us broke now!) and ask him about the beast before he'll give us the kagoule.  Now, at last, I have built a fire in the shepherd's hut, heated up some beans, and eaten them with the spoon, so we can SLEEP at last.  Whew!

We awaken just before dawn at 6:01 AM -- the editor wasn't kidding about an overnight stay -- and step outside just in time to see a dark shape disappearing into the combe to the south of the hut.  We head southeast into Eldritch Combe, continuing into the steep-walled passage to discover a pool.

There's a ledge above, a thicket to the south, and some mud between the pool and rocks visible to the east.  EXAMINE MUD reveals paw-marks -- some large and some smaller ones?  Uh-oh.  I head south into the thicket, a useful hiding place perhaps, and from there I go northeast to reach the rocks. 

There's an animal carcass here -- the remains of a deer, clearly a recent meal for some large predator. Uh-oh-oh.  I have enough presence of mind left to PUT FILM IN CAMERA so we can take a picture of the Beast, should we encounter it.  Maybe we should take pictures of the carcass and pawprints?  Heading back to the pool to do so, I startle the Beast -- and her cubs!  The black,  four-legged animal roars and they all disperse into the darkness.

I can climb up to the ledge above the pool, and WAIT -- it takes quite a while, but eventually they return, a mother and two playful cubs.  We TAKE PHOTO OF BEAST -- and the story wraps up, with a reasonably happy ending as the panther and her cubs are moved safely to a wildlife park, while the Ranger gets sacked.  And perhaps there are more Beasts about...

I ended up with 135 out of 150 possible points, so I must have missed something along the way, but I'm satisfied with having completed the game.  I did check the walkthrough -- I missed taking the tortoise to the veterinarian, but that wasn't absolutely essential to finishing the story; my uneducated examination of the tortoise didn't suggest it was ill or injured, though if I'm honest I have to admit that I thought I might need to make some tortoise soup if the beans provided insufficient nourishment, and so didn't really consider taking the poor creature to the vet.

I really enjoyed the writing and construction of The Beast of Torrack Moor -- Linda Wright knows how to design an interactive story, and while there are some time-based events that can inadvertently be missed, other important occurrences happen logically and flexibly.  Most of the puzzles make physical sense, aside from a few parser challenges.  I had good fun with this well-realized story, even if it wasn't quite the horror-themed Halloween adventure I had in mind -- I'm always a sucker for a happy ending.


  1. that time of year, when I like to play something that fits the All Hallow's Eve theme

    I'm always baiting you with John Olsen's games -- howabout his first text game, Frankenstein Adventure? http://www.mobygames.com/game/frankenstein-adventure ... though actually I get the feeling that http://www.mobygames.com/game/sex-and-violence-vol-1 would be more up your alley.

    1. Hey, Rowan -- I actually covered John Olsen's Frankenstein Adventure for Halloween a few years ago -- http://www.gamingafter40.blogspot.com/2012/10/adventure-of-week-frankenstein.html -- but I agree I should play more of his work!

  2. Good to see you come back to the Spectrum! I played this game back in the day, and tried it again recently (it's available for Spectaculator on the iPad, which supports a bluetooth keyboard), but wasn't ever able to progress far. To be honest, I always found these time-based adventures a bit stressful, as I always feel I've missed something (which I may have done in a recent playthrough but not the current one).

    Any chance of you doing any Level 9 adventures in the near future? :)

    1. I do want to play the Level 9 games -- I confess to being put off a bit by what I remember as a buggy implementation of the Silicon Dreams trilogy on the Atari ST circa 1989, but I will likely take a fresh look after my schedule eases up a bit. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Also, if you're going for a horror theme, I suggest Rod Pike's adventures (the C64 versions are best, IMO, even though I originally played them on the Spectrum): Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman. All of them have 3 parts, but they're not too long or difficult; what they have is very long, atmospheric descriptions of rooms and events, and they *can* get scary.