Review by Jen
SerpentHead Revisited is the latest in an ever-lengthening
line of indie games created using the AdventureMaker
game engine, the last one of note (hereabouts, anyway) being Michael
This engine gives these indie developers the tools to create
nearly professional-level products. But they tend to all have
the same look to them, what with the same cursors, the same style
of inventory management, etc.
Nearly professional-level, I said. The graphics in SerpentHead
Revisited certainly are passable but, with the exception of
a very pretty dragon, are frankly less than spectacular. I for
one don't mind the not-eye-candy graphics as long as the gameplay
is solid, especially with a one-woman or -man effort. (What's
the opposite of eye candy? Eye Brussels sprouts? Eew! These were
not nearly bad enough to be called eye Brussels sprouts.
Eye peas, maybetolerable but not delicious.) Anyway, SerpentHead
Revisited works very well in the gameplay solidity regard.
You play in the first person as a young mage named Mharim. You
find yourself outside Castle SerpentHead with nothing to do but
enter. One of the first things you see on entering is a note imploring
you to save the land from the imminent return of the Dark Sorcerer
Salorann. In order to defeat Salorann, you must decipher clues,
mix potions, open magically locked doors, and ultimately retrieve
the hidden Serpent Scepter, the instrument of Salorann's eventual
(we hope) demise.
One of the places you will visit is the castle's library, which
is where you learn the bulk of the game's backstory. Kathy Salisbury,
the game's creator, has dreamed up a rich fantasy world with an
extensive history in which to set her SerpentHead games
(this is her secondhence, I suppose, the "Revisited"
in the title; I have not played the first), and this particular
game shows only a small part of it.
The entire game takes place in the 15 or so rooms of SerpentHead
Castle, which itself has three stories. Navigation is a little
hard to figure out due to some inconsistencies in what arrows
mean what, but the castle is so small that it doesn't take long
to memorize which mouse clicks take you where.
As you begin, you have very few locations available to you, and
as you progress through the game and solve its puzzles, more rooms
open up to you until finally you may roam freely throughout the
castle, uncovering clues, solving riddles, and finally, three
or so hours later, vanquishing Salorann and wondering what you're
going to play next. This is a really short game!
I did get stuck about three times and had to resort to a walkthrough.
In only one of those instances would I never have dreamed up the
solution on my own; the other times I had a good idea what to
do but the execution was confusing. There is no dying or premature
Outside of a few little nitpicks like this, SerpentHead Revisited's
puzzles are just rightthe right level of challenge,
the right amount of steps you must take for any one puzzle, the
right balance between reading and inventory puzzles and environmental
There is a little bit of acting in the game. Characters speak
v-e-r-y slowly, but their vocal remarks are accompanied by onscreen
text so that you know exactly what's being said. Sound effects
are limited and are repeated in some places, but overall they
aren't all that noticeable. There is also looping music, with
several different short pieces depending on where in the castle
SerpentHead Revisited costs a mere $10 after applying
a coupon code supplied by Ms. Salisbury, which can be located
by searching the FFC
Henhouse for her post announcing the game; otherwise the cost
is $19.95. After you pay you get an immediate 20 MB download of
the full game. You also have the option of paying about $10 more
to receive a CD containing several other of Ms. Salisbury's games
via mail. SerpentHead Revisited, for me, installed and
ran flawlessly under Windows XP Pro.
All in all, I had a good time playing SerpentHead Revisited,
despite its several flaws, and for $10 it was a fair deal.
I can't honestly say I'd've been happy about paying the $20 for
it, only because of its shortness. But Ms. Salisbury has a real
flair for puzzle design and storytelling. With a little more professional
polish, her games could stand shoulder to shoulder with the big-name
Release Date: March 2003
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