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Bytten Ernie Awards 2007

Best Puzzle Game - Druids Battle Of Magic
Not being a fan of puzzle games at all and being an indie game reviewer means that, a lot of the time, I'm reviewing games that I normally would not even look at once, let alone twice.

It was rare for me then to become so addicted to Druids that I played for hours on end (in the "sleep can wait" mentality), determined to clear all 110 levels of this gold star awardee.

Druids Battle Of Magic The Mastermind

The key to the longevity for me was that the game is truly fun to play. Imagine that! A puzzle game that is actually a rollicking good time! The action is fast and furious, the graphics and sound are top notch and most importantly it has that "just one more level" hook that just won't let you put it down. Install this one on your work computer at your own peril; productivity will suffer as coffee breaks stretch out into hours instead of minutes.

Best Game Idea That Didn't Quite Work - The Mastermind
The concept was a novel one. Make the player a criminal mastermind starting out in a life of crime in a big city. Present the player with a myriad of choices and in a true freeform gaming platform. Make every action the player chooses count, in terms of cause and effect, and add just a tiny dash of randomness in the outcomes and events, to stop things becoming too predictable. Now let the player go nuts. Let him hire gang members, and track their ever evolving stats, equip them and assign them suitable jobs, set up extortion rackets, rob, cheat, lie, steal, backstab, race, buy, sell, trade, bribe...

Sounds like the perfect game, right? Well it is, except that the interface used to effect all these actions and plans is absolutely abominable. The player is forced to navigate through menu upon menu upon menu. A poorly designed interface means that stats never seem available when you really need them, and you're never sure exactly which menu you need to perform tasks, delegate orders, or check on warehouse stock. The game is so addictive that you will stumble through the impossibly unnavigable nests of menus for a time before realising that the woes of the interface offset the amount of fun that the game is - and just give up.

Rating The Mastermind earlier this year was a difficult process for me simply because it is a game that I wanted to like much more than I did.

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Published on 13 Apr 2007
Written by Andrew Williams and Steve Blanch

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