High praise for this scen but no review? Perhaps there was one and it was lost in the explosion in the server room several years ago. The author includes a text that says:
"This scenario is different than any I've played so far. Instead of the typical scenario where you collect resources, build an army, and attack your enemies, in this scenario you'll have to find new ways to get past the obstacles that face you. You'll have to use mostly puzzle solving skills rather than general strategy to win. It's not a game for pacifists though, there is still plenty of bloody battles, you'll just have to figure out new ways to win them."
In effect, he is claiming the first puzzle scenario to ever appear in the AoE granary. Is this claim valid? Read on...
Let My People Go
Playability: 4.5. I enjoyed this scen, just playing around with different approaches. Unlike what Spineman found, I did not always know what to do next and I always found many different ways to go in each situation. But that is a measure of playability. I thought the scen dragged a little bit as I worked my way through vast forests with my single low speed villie, but at least there was always something going on in two other places on the map, so while my villie was chopping wood I could set up another attack method somewhere else. Increasing my playability score was my Heavy Horse Archer, my favorite unit. Did you hear about the little Texas town that was having a riot so they sent for the Texas Rangers? Next day a lone Ranger rides up. The villies say "where's the rest of you? How come you only sent one Ranger?" And the Ranger says, "You only got one riot." Well, that's me. If you got one enemy army, and I got one Heavy Horse Archer, bring it on. I had immense fun taking out masses of catapults with my HHA without even getting knicked. I even took out a war elephant. And a couple dozen swordsmen. I played 7 hours, felt like 4.
Balance: 4. I got wiped out a few times but in general if I went slow and used my scouts to recon before plunging in, I was pretty survivable. Plus I had a priest for healing.
Creativity: Automatic 5. Yes, it appears the author's claim is valid and this is the first puzzle scenario in the Granary. Monkey Island and Monkey Island II had the puzzle element of the hostage rescue situation but that was the only puzzle part of a much larger scen. There were some slight puzzle aspects to Scen 1 of Vikings (1-12-98) but that was one aspect of a single scen in a larger campaign. Apparently there were some puzzle elements in some scen of Trojan Wars (1-29-98) in Single Player Campaigns, and there have been several maze scenarios. But for the first mainly puzzle oriented scenario, this is it.
Map: 4.5. Lots of nice cliffwork. Nice semi hidden pathways in and around the forests. Works very well to develop and control the plot. However a lot of brushed on forests, cliffs not on elevations (though this is not relevant to the action), no fish in the Nile until you get to the Delta, only 3 gazelle in all of Lower Egypt. Overall though, the map looked pretty nice, somewhat natural, and worked very well for the action.
History etc. Automatic 5. I found one glitch, the reference to finding stone and building fences. I did not find any stone anywhere on the map. However this (not relevant to the plot) quibble is completely overpowered by two factors: 1, the story is all there with backup reference to the Biblical tale of the Exodus, and 2, the author has included a section in the Hints that amounts to a total walkthrough of the scen. This is way above and beyond anything you would find in scens of that era and better than most scens you will find today.
Comments: After playing through my way, I read the walkthrough to see what I could have done. It seems like I didn't play everything as smart as I could have, but that's playability, I can do it my way if it's funner even though it may be dumber. Possible SPOILERS: I converted everything I could lay a priest on, all the swordsmen, all the scouts, all the chariots -- man does it take a long time to covert a chariot! Even a trade boat. I finally went over my pop cap with conversions. I built everything you can build, then every unit, then got every upgrade you can get. I did not use the lions to wipe out anything, in fact I put them up in a safe corner pocket cuz I like them. They do make excellent spies though. I used the elephants for most of the heavy wiping out. And of course Joshua my HHA for the slashing Zorro attacks.
Recommended for download.