Head for the hills, boys and girls, jmtb02, (John Cooney of Armor Games), is at it again. This time you won't be concerning yourself with traffic lights or suicide prone obsessive elephants. Instead you play the role of an adventuring llama, in the aptly named, text-based adventure/interactive fiction, Llama Adventure.
Yes, you are a llama. You have no choice about this. You may think you are a human, or a monkey, or a twelve-eyed alien from the planet Grunkia, but what you think is irrelevant. The man behind the mirrored glass tells you that you are a llama and if you know what is good for you, you will believe him. Following any and all instructions given to you is also not a bad idea if you enjoy things like breathing and not being dead.
As a llama, you find yourself in the first of a series of rooms, at the end of which is promised pastures of green, edible freedom. But before you can enjoy the fruit (or more appropriately grass) of grazing heaven, you must solve the puzzle of each room. Fail to adequately solve any of the puzzles and you will go from being a perfectly healthy llama to a dead llama. No pressure.
As in any text-based adventure or interactive fiction, Llama adventure is played by reading the text and typing commands in order to do things like look around, collect items, and perform actions. Unlike the average IF, though, the interface for Llama Adventure has some visual and aural cues to make things easier. Keywords that the program recognizes are highlighted in different colors, and when you type them in, an audible chime signifies a recognized command.
This means that, should you find yourself erupting in a ball of scorching flame, you have no one but yourself to blame.
Analysis: This is a piece of interactive fiction for those who have never been very good at interactive fiction. If you've ever found yourself stymied or intimidated by the interface and sheer volume of commands on display in your average text-based adventure, you will most likely appreciate the lengths to which jmtb02 went in order to streamline the process. Not only are keywords nicely highlighted, but some erroneous commands are answered with alternative commands that will work. Thus, Llama Adventure distinguishes itself as one of the most accessible text adventures out there.
Also commendable are the well thought out puzzles. They are for the most part quite logical, challenging but not ever quite impossible. The key characteristic at work for the harder ones is deception and misdirection. Cooney's great talent here is not in making a difficult puzzle, but instead getting you to look the other way for a relatively simple puzzle.
And then there's the ending. I wouldn't want to give too much away, but if you are like our own Psychotronic, whose mental wavelengths are a little disturbingly close to those of jmtb02, then you'll probably get it right away and enjoy a little chuckle. I, on the other hand, had to go through five phases not entirely unlike the five stages of coping with death. First there was frustration, then puzzlement, then despair, then anger, followed by a grudging understanding. I'm still waiting for forgiveness to come along, but it seems to be running a little late.
Yes, jmtb02 does love to skewer us, and does so perhaps a little too sharply here. But whether you get the ending completely, or walk away with a sour taste in your mouth, you can't deny the fact that Llama Adventure is quite an accomplishment in a genre that has always experienced accessibility issues. It's easy to manipulate, fun to play, and if you can take a joke you won't mind Cooney poking fun at you a bit in the end.