Right, here we go.
First thing we notice is that this is a Windows executable, which is not good. Luckily, it ran almost perfectly in Wine, but unluckily, there was a bug (in Wine, obviously) which turned all text black. That may seem like a minor problem, until you realise that the background colour was also black. However, with some help of the author, I managed to turn the background white and I could play the game.
Realm of Obsidian is a weird mix of the outdated and the newfangled. It is apparently made using a new IF authoring system that is not finished, but already works pretty well. (Although, for instance, "blue" was not recognised as referring to the "blue token", which could either be a fault of the game author or of the development system.) It also comes with sound and music, which is interesting, although I quickly turned off the music because it was not to my liking. I also turned off the sound, because the game was not willing to share my sound card with other programs, and I did want the play some of my own music--but this unwillingness to share the sound card might well have been a result of me running it in Wine.
On the outdated side, however, we have:
- Little characterisation and almost non-existent story.
- Lots of puzzles of the "find object X and then use object X against monster Y" variety.
- Spells which you can only cast after collecting an entire list of seemingly random items.
- Monsters which kill you if you don't solve the corresponding puzzle quickly enough.
- Very sparse descriptions.
- Unwinnable situations.
- Lots of empty rooms (that really should have been removed from the game).
Also, is releasing non-finished games a new trend?
Still, I did enjoy playing Realm of Obsidian. Despite its failings, it just bubbles with enthusiasm. I like being able to carry around a tape recorder playing really bad death metal. (It inspired me to listen to Death's The Sound of Perseverance almost my entire play-through, though that is of course a great album.) And while I don't like being killed ten times by the first monster I meet (and having to go through the complicated reloading process), I do appreciate that this monster is a skeleton carrying a buzz saw and riding a wheelchair.
There is a real difference between being killed by a skeleton with a rust sword and a wooden shield, and being killed by a skeleton with a buzz saw in a wheelchair. The first tells you that the author is lazy and unimaginative; the second that she was actually having fun thinking this up and writing it. That makes me have more fun as well.
All in all, a first effort with many weaknesses, but with an amount of enthusiasm and care that gives me high hopes for future games by this author.