Thursday, November 12, 2015

Handful of IFcomp 2015 Entry Reviews

This year's Interactive Fiction Competition has a very large number of entries. I knew I wouldn't be able to play them all online, so I picked a few at random that had interesting descriptions. I ended up playing through and reviewing Crossroads, Life on Mars, Laid off from the Synesthesia Factory, Much Love, BJP, The Sueno, and Taghairm. I played a few others that I just could not finish either because I couldn't get into them or I glanced at the walkthough after a few turns and decided I didn't want to play though the game. Of course, I'll only be voting for the ones I've finished and reviewed here. There might be spoilers here, so if you are afraid of seeing any now is the time to look elsewhere!

Reviews being after the stars...

*    *    *    *    *


Interesting description, so trying this first. This Twine game was sort of interesting, but wasn’t interesting enough to play though again. I was expecting the text to be more graphic than it was due to the content warning. One typo I found that may be deprecated: “sand” where an “and” should be.


Scrolling thru the entries further so I don’t end up playing titles in the lower portion of the alphabet. Huh. A speed setting. And another content warning.. which is seems like a bit of a spoiler. There’s also a recommended playlist. While I like old Satyricon and some Aphex Twin songs, the two don’t seem to go together well if there should be a consistent mood to the game.

Spatterlight crashed when trying to use the email function, so I build Frotz from the latest source and ran the game in that. The email thing works now though, and I can see the text speed effect now which is pretty neat. Now, on to the actual game.

There aren’t a lot of rooms to explore, but given the setting there shouldn’t be. Using the “email” function seems to be the main thing driving the game until I get prompted that taking a nap might be a good idea. After the nap, more email and a robot needs my assistance. There wasn’t much more after that. Wasn’t too crazy about the ending. The game was mostly on-rails showing off a lot of text effects; the latter of which does make this a pretty cool little adventure.


And here we have another game with both a content warning and a recommended playlist. It promises to generate a readable, static story once I reach the end and also claims to be both short and completely puzzle-less. X GREEN. X BRAIN (surprised that one gave a response). CALL BRIAN (Huh. A response, but nothing that seems to be relevent). EXIT. Ah, that makes more sense.. DRIVE TO LAKE. Eh. PAINT LAKE. Ha! Myrtle Beach reference! God, how I’ve come to loathe that place since the arcade went to shit and they tore down the rides. Also, South of the Border! My family never did fall for that trap either though I also remember counting the signs as a kid.

Now I think I have a good idea of what this synpiece is.. but having it on while driving certainly feels wrong. I guess that depends on if I can still make out things or if the road is going to look chunky and crooked as it tastes. (That’s a synthestisia joke.) I end up at a lake with Brian where a “compromise” is met. I guess I got the OK ending. This was a neat little game and I’ll probably give it another play after the comp. I liked how it started completely abstract and hard to follow yet then started to make sense. I would gripe about things not being more explained, but I have the same gripe about the previous title I reviewed and this one at least warrants another play to perhaps tell more of the same story from different angles.


Another Twine entry. This one is just basically what feels like newspaper articles linked by verb hyperlinks. Not many of them, either. Not many choices here. While the story of the reporter in this one is inspiring and all, it’s rather political and if anything, this title warranted more of a “content warning” than the other 2.. though overall I think content warnings are stupid.


A game about a sleep study and lucid dreaming. This should be interesting. I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish the lucid dreaming game I made a prototype for.

We start out with good descriptions and all, but feels like I’m waiting in the sleep lab forever. Hm. I “look” in the Sleep Lab again after waiting many turns. I haven’t been prompted to do anything. Dr. Lynch is just “here, clipboard in hand”. I scroll back to look at all of the talking topics and ask about those. Still waiting. Oh. Consulting the walk thru says I really should ask about medication. OK, here we go. Going to try to not look at the walkthrough again now.

I can’t read or take the Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie catalog?! No such thing?! Bah. Anyway, a few fairly simple puzzles progress the game along various snippets of moving through a house, some woods, and a town; separated by cutscenes of the doctor conducting the study interrupting your sleep with questions.

The inventory and puzzles in this game felt a bit clunky, but overall not a bad game and worth a play. I ended up returning to the walkthrough again a couple of times despite the suggestion that I should try not looking at it at all.


Another Twine game, but very different from any other I have encountered. Cool sounds add a neat atmosphere. Around the time I started to think “Well crap. Just like every other Twine game. Not many choices or forcing me to make choices I don’t want to make to finish the story.”, something neat happened when I clicked the forced answer a few times. It actually explained what in the world was the purpose of this, and in a cool way. I was surprised to enjoy this one. Cat lovers will probably hate it.