Eric the Unready

1993 Legend Entertainment
Designed by Bob Bates
Reviewed 2004 February 14

Rating +3 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity moderate
Difficulty challenging Relevance strong
Interface 1st paned parser Real-time none

An evil witch is out to usurp the kingdom. The princess has been abducted, and it's up to you, the worst knight in kingdom, to save her and the throne.

A wizard tells you what you need to storm the witch's defenses: five magic goodies scattered about the land. With a couple of intro segments and the finale, the game breaks into eight mini-games. There's no great plot, just the fun of each zany locale. The humour is the point of the game, and it succeeds largely due to the great text descriptions.

There's a lot to do. Most challenges are fairly simple, but there are enough difficult challenges to satisfy grizzled adventurers. There's a game of concentration to play (boring) and a couple of quizzes (funny). Mostly, though, it's the usual lateral thinking with the inventory. One not-so-usual trait, though, is that you sometimes have to look outside the current place and time to figure out what to do; i.e., you have to pay attention to what's going on, where it will lead, and what's happening nearby. It's not a simple matter of looking just at the objects in front of you. This helps to draw you into the world, achieving a greater sense of immersion.

One down side to the challenges is that each segment (day) is timed. Each action you take advances time by a minute, and you have until 7:00 to complete the day. It's not a real-time constraint, just a limit on the number of moves you can make. In other words, you're encouraged to save, solve, restore, and replay optimally. The positive side of this is that a few challenges require synchronising your actions with the time of day. I never came close to the limit, so maybe it's worth it.

The interface is a strange conflation of text adventure with point-and-click graphic adventure. At heart, the game is a text adventure, although there are some graphic cutscenes. Each location has a small graphic, however, and most of the actions you need can be accomplished by clicking directly on the graphic, like a graphic adventure. The graphic is accompanied by a full text description, and there is a full text parser, so you don't really need the graphic. You can also build parser input with the mouse by selecting words from lists, if you're a poor typer or have an ice cream cone in one hand. It's unusual, but it works well, combining the strengths of the two media. I wish somebody would try a similar kind of approach with modern technology.

With droll writing and top-notch challenges, Eric is a fine adventure. It lacks a strong plot, but it's great fun to play. It might be too difficult in spots for some new adventurers, though.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.
David Tanguay's Game Reviews
Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.