“Waiting for the Day Train” is a simple game about exploration, written in the style of a pre-Infocom text adventure.
Gameplay: The puzzles are largely ones of collecting items and using them in different places. It’s a simple game with a compact map, and the brevity of the game prevents the sparse environment from wearing out its welcome. The puzzles are a bit surreal but clued strongly enough not to be frustrating. 4/10.
Mechanics: The game is a classic one that doesn’t involve any novel mechanics. Its focus is exploring a crazy-quilt environment with useful objects in odd locations (the first puzzle, for example, requires finding a chainsaw hidden under a rock). Along with the telegraphic prose of the game, that style of play reminds me of the earlier Scott Adams games. 4/10.
Presentation: As sparse as the main text in the game is, there are nevertheless quite a few embellishments to the game. There are photographs accompanying each room and a soundtrack, although the latter is short enough to get repetitive quickly. There’s a frame story and an introduction to the game, with 8-bit-style graphics and a more verbose style of prose. The juxtaposition of the two is odd, even given the two worlds of the setting they represent, and the introduction is a bit long for a sequence that’s entirely non-interactive. I didn’t run into any guess-the-verb issues, though the syntax involved in dealing with the stepping stones is a bit odd, and the exits listing is helpful. 5/10.
Tilt: There’s a simple puzzle about magpies that block your path. +1.
You might enjoy this game if: You find the setting the author described in the game’s introduction compelling.