Ms Ethel's Secret Minecraft Survival Adventure Map
Ms Ethel's Secret is a Minecraft detective / parkour adventure survival map, that's one way of slamming two genres together in a way that makes a particularly pleasing, albeit gooey, sandwich. This is one of the more innovative and exciting adventure maps I've played because it combines skill (both dexterity and combat) and an interesting adventure.
The story goes thus. You are a government agent who has been sent to investigate a ransacking. Yes, a ransacking. Things are clearly slow at the government this week, either that or you've recently been busted down the ranks for one too many security breeches. At any rate, it is your job to work out what nefarious creature has torn down an old woman's home - the answer is more interesting than you think.
This map makes use of pistons for the creation of secret doors and suchlike, and there are traditional adventure game play elements like timed switches and other little tricks that make anyone who ever played Ocarina of Time (which is everybody on the planet) feel right at home. As an added bonus, unlike adventure games such as the aforementioned classic, if you get completely stuck whilst playing a Minecraft adventure map, you can always just slam your way through solid walls if need be. A particularly nice touch is in hiding levers to be used as 'keys'.
The map is 'narrated' through the use of signs that work in much the same way as text adventures used to work. 'You look around for a front door.' 'You find a mysterious switch'. It's a technique that works really well and makes you feel as if you're really interacting with a separate game rather than merely bumbling your way through someone else's build. Sometimes the signs 'force' game play in a way that is a little artificial (telling you which fork in a path to take, for instance,) and sometimes they're a little too hand holdy (telling you to make sure you look in all the rooms, as if you're not familiar with the concept of playing a game, or telling you exactly what the lever that doesn't appear to do anything does) but overall I think they work well. If the game were to be improved at all, it would be by removing some of the 'tip' signs, as they really circumvent the detective part of the game. A more linear style of map (with areas unlocked one after the other) would also save a lot of the sign based prompting.
Don't worry though, even with signs guiding you, this map is more than challenging and you will need to keep all your wits about you if you want to survive it in one piece. There are numerous unpleasant ways to meet your demise, and you'll probably sample them all before you're done. This isn't a map you'll play for days, in fact, depending on your skill level and willingness to cheat your way through things you find too hard, you can probably be done with it in an hour or so. Let me say one thing however - it is very much worth getting to the end of the game for the reward you'll fine.
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