The Ebb and Flow of the Tide (IF)

Peter Nepstad, 2006. Based (very closely) on the short story "Where the Tides Ebb and Flow" by Lord Dunsany (1910). Version 1.1. Tads.


A strange, evocative short quasi-horror IF very much in tune with the mix of horror and myth and dream-fantasy that Lord Dunsany is known for. Very closely follows the original story (as well as I remember the original story) and works out as a massively different type of game.

What is surprising about this game is the way the puzzles are laid out. Rather than fetch quests or get the key kind of deals, they almost all rotate around the scheme of trying out different senses. You smell and taste and listen and look at things. You feel things. The end result is a gameplay based around of sense information and ambient passages (lifted directly or modified out of the original work) involving scenery from "dead houses" and "crumbling walls" to "black barges".

Different, and sometimes at its own expense. The puzzles might require you look at one object, then look at a an object referenced by that object, then listen to something the second object is doing, and then smell something you heard, and then listen to something else. It works, and gets only mildly frustrating, but there is potential for problems. By keeping it short, and keeping the overall list of commands small, it stops most of the issues that would arise out of the implementation. Nepstad has basically crafted a game composed almost entirely of "guess the verb" syntax traps but made it playable and fun.

If there is any real complaint, it is that the parser will sometimes come up dry unexpectedly. Words that you are sure to be known ("Sea" and "ocean" come to mind) are missing and a few verbs don't quite do what you are expecting them to. Most of them are no biggies, but a few jolted me out of immersion.

The ending is surprising fulfilling for the short game, and the sensations it inspired are lasting. Fairly replayable. There are some events that I felt I could have done more with and so will need to give them a try.

87/100 (50=average) with its limited scope being its best and worst feature.


My Score

I got 100/100, which I suppose you must to win. Did not take that long, maybe about twenty minutes of playing.

Hints, Suggestions and Mild Spoilers (for what they are worth

This is a different game. You don't "go" anywhere. You don't open anything. Your character is, with maybe the exception of one move, passive. A point at the center of a sphere of perception. Read the ABOUT and the HINT for sure.

This game needs fairly specific inputs to advance, which you can get at by paying attention to objects mentioned. In some cases,you have to try the gauntlet of them all.

Written by W Doug Bolden

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