Diamonds In The Rough
Ditr, as the game refers to itself is different from most games in regard to the story. More on the story later. This is an independent creation by Alkis Polyrakis and his Atropos Studios. The game engine, AGS, developed by Chris Jones has its limitations when compared to present state of the art engines. Considering AGS is available online for no cost it is widely used by independent game makers. After all most indies do not have the resources to develop expansive graphics such as the like seen in Frogwares. If you are aware of games like the Blackwell series then you have an idea of the "look" of DITR.
Don't let the graphics scare you off as this game achieves beyond the limited graphics. I will begin with the mechanics. It appears there are no limits to numbers of saves though I don't feel I pushed the envelope. Saves in regard to XP are stored in the root file in c:\Program files diamonds in the rough. I will shamelessly borrow this comment from Gremlin's fine review as he describes this well. "In order to configure the options for DitR, you'll need to do a little hunting to find a program called winsetup in the installation directory of the game. Actually, there's not much chance you'll need to alter any settings, unless you're using a really old PC that can't handle an 800x600 display." Thanks Gremlin that saved me trying to explain an unusual avenue to locate the settings adjustment. You won't find it otherwise.
I experienced no crashes and the game does not require any advanced beefed up computers. It runs on 800x600 graphics. My machine required no tweaking as the game auto selected the required graphics setting returning to what your setting was on closure. DITR will run without the disc in the drive. There are several keyboard shortcuts which are described in the manual found on the disc. There is no printed manual. Yes the game is entirely point and click third person perspective. You do have to type in a password on a few occasions in game play when hacking into someone's pc. But that is hardly what you call requiring keyboard play. One important note is Alkis borrowed from the old Sierra games format using this step once in the game. The game ships with a single page letter inside the DVD case. At one point you are required to type in a selected word from the letter. It will ask for 1st paragraph, first line, third word as an example. The request is random so no walk through will help you if you don't have that letter. Make sure it is there if you buy the game. You cannot advance without it.
The game play is straight forward point and click. All I will reveal about the story is you play Jason. He is a young man with "special abilities", hired by an organization to develop those abilities. Conspiracy? oh yes and you need to figure it out. One thing for certain the theme goes to a place never before seen in a computer game. I am not going to tip this off as Alkis's story is pretty original.
There is a long intro and a few long cut scenes which go into considerable detail, especially the detailed unique ending. Your screen will show at the top the letters I T L S E. They represent Inventory, Thoughts, Load, Save, Exit. Clicking on any letter will bring the expected response. Thoughts act as a second inventory where your thoughts are located. You collect thoughts much like you collect inventory items. You can use these thoughts on yourself and people to advance the story. The application is quite like the use of inventory items to solve puzzles. Sub titles appear with each spoken word that allow you to read quickly then click past the talking if you are so inclined.
The puzzles are rather logical and not overly difficult. Though you may have to resort to a walk through for one or two. They are pretty much straight forward. You will find no mazes, no action timed puzzles, no graphic violence or off color language. I experienced no area where Jason could be killed though the sense of danger and urgency is maintained through implication. Right clicking shifts through several action icons. There are several for walk, touch/pick up, look, talk. Much like what you see in games like Kings Quest. There are several interesting characters to engage, though I would have preferred a bit more character development. Your conversations are short with a minimal conversation tree. Sometimes these conversations are enhanced by clicking one or more of your thoughts on that character. Inventory use is rather typical with minimal putting objects together. Your world consist of a dozen or so screens in a small isolated town so there is no excessive running around. The voice acting is quite good, though the music is repetitive it is not anything that will annoy and it does fit in.
The Game is of medium length perhaps 8-12 hours depending on how quickly you figure out your progression through the story. As all puzzles are logical what to do or ask etc the time will vary. The ending is quite detailed and wraps things up nicely. All in all this is and excellent effort by Alkis for which he gets a big thumbs up for originality. Some game maker like Frogwares would do themselves a favor asking Alkis to author a game or two for them.