IF Competition Discussion: Lord Bellwater’s Secret

Another comp game response: avoid if you’re judging and want to remain free of influences.

You’re a servant in an aristocratic Victorian household. Your late employer has died, his son has taken over, and your sweetheart (a maid) has fallen out a window under suspicious circumstances. It’s up to you to figure out what has really happened, through a late-night search of the mansion.

This is a one-room puzzle game with easy-to-moderate puzzles. It’s not ambitious, but it’s reasonably polished and has some amusing moments. Unusual verbs are also generally glossed explicitly, so guess-the-verb problems are kept to a minimum. Moderately recommended to those who enjoy one-room puzzle games in general.









I enjoyed this, in an undemanding way, for as long as it went on, but it could have been sharper both as a puzzle game and as narrative. The melodramatic story was hard to take seriously; I found it even harder to believe that the villain would be so obliging about leaving notes on how to defeat his own security system. This takes bad password habits (always a failing of IF villains) to a new level.

I did have some trouble with the cord-and-window puzzle, and had to go to the hints for that. Kudos for including a nice hint system, but this felt under-hinted in the main game narrative (unlike the several over-hinted combination puzzles, which didn’t require that much thinking once you’d managed to find the relevant components). It would have been nice to get progressively more instructive feedback as I tried unsuccessfully to interact with the window, the curtains, and the cord; as it was, the failure messages I got didn’t entirely explain to me what I was doing wrong.

Hooray for including a piece of cover art.

I was also impressed by the thorough implementation of the catalogued books: this is a minor point, but I spent a few minutes of the game just looking up 18th and 19th-century novels to see whether they’d made it into Lord Bellwater’s collection. (Apparently he has more of a taste for Austen than for Bronte.)

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