antimony (antimony) wrote,

ifcomp, fore!

I think these reviews may be coming off crankier than I am; I'm a software quality engineer and thus my reaction to "here, try this" is to list flaws. It's what I do. That said, this was not my favorite batch of games, so this batch is pretty harsh.

19: One Night Stand
[Quest, played on laptop]

Heels do not go on first. Nope. It'd take broken glass on the floor, not a slightly manky apartment, to put on five-inch heels while wandering around deeply hungover. And if we're ascribing to such stereotypes, where the hell is my purse?

I'm not sure the person who wrote this knows how women work. Or realizes that "how do humans work" applies to women. Blah. And the parser isn't great, although the idea of actually listing mental images in inventory is kind of cute. I figured out one step and the game wouldn't let me do it without examining an only-slightly-related other item first, plus it was missing a lot of verbs.

Or, as I summarized in a comment on Emily Short's blog:
Yeah, I'm not sure how I'm rating this one -- it's better implemented than many others near the bottom of my list, and I apparently ran through the puzzle sequence in the logical order expected, so I only had real issues once near the end, as mentioned before. But it's completely obnoxious, and not at all funny.

Also, I couldn't pet the cat. Not even to get some sort of puerile pussy joke. Mortal sin, IMHO.

21: The Black Lily
[Inform, played in Spatterlight]

A dude who is way too proud of his attractive experience reminices about women he's casually seduced. Not really my thing -- I can go for sex comedy (I have played how many Leisure Suit Larry games?), and I will put up with romances, but this felt way too wish-fullfillment creepy, yet faded-to-white without sex. (This would probably have been even creepier if I'd played it just after One Night Stand, although despite them being in order in this set of reviews, I played Black Lily first.)

I guessed one twist before it was revealed; I had suspicions of what another might be, though I was wrong on that one. But have reached one ending (2/7, apparently?) and am not really eager to play another.

A bunch of guess-the-action and the narrative tried to avoid listing directions but also didn't always allow natural-language navigation. (Sometimes it did, and that was sort of nice for a game in a setting where NSEW are kind of silly.) I eventually remembered to turn the exit listing on and it was better.

22: Following Me
[Twine, played on iPad]

Oh, look, it's the flip side of The Urge -- we're being chased by serial torturer/killers. On the plus side, I'm playing the victim, so there's less creepiness inherent in each click forward. On the minus side, it's not as clever in using the medium as The Urge.

I got a fairly positive ending, though I think I made at least one choice that didn't make sense based on what I knew about my PC and was more me-as-player than me-as-PC. Having gotten that, I was happy to be done with it. No bugs, decent writing, and a plotline that was slightly more twisty than my initial guess going in, but not my cup of tea at all.

24: Hill 160
[Inform, Spatterlight]
: light cigarette with lighter
You can’t burn the cigarette with the cigarette lighter.

: w
You’re too tired for that right now.
Your rifle is missing a critical part.

 Hey Corporal Cooper! You’ve blown it I’m afraid. Want another chance?

OK, Here we go ! ! ! 

: examine rifle
You’ve already examined the rifle.

ARGH. There's a lot of promising things here -- the author Did The Research on equipment, and even managed to make a lot of the descriptions be not too info-dumpy. I'm guessing there's a real mission here. And I got enough of a sense of place that one of my first commands was to swear at another soldier and to try to smoke a cigarette rather than looking for the plot. But it's broken, and the prose is very uneven -- sometimes it's workmanlike prose about equipment or location, sometimes it's overly excited (!!!), and it feels like it's trying too hard with the Britishisms, although I could be wrong there and the author could be British. (In which case perhaps they're trying too hard with period slang.)

The occasional typo and poor wording would be OK if it weren't so damn buggy, though. Let me examine things more than once! Don't tell me my rifle's missing a piece when I can't examine it any more. And besides, what is wrong is that somehow I've slept only once and started getting "not sleepy" replies to "sleep" but yet I haven't hit the correct number of sleeps to trigger the next event so I need to stay put. Etc.

The game just doesn't work. A shame; historical IF is rare and well-researched rarer.

25: Tower
[Inform, Spatterlight]

Another old-school puzzle tower! This one has a full-fledged parser, and some slightly snappier dialog. The puzzles are fairly simple, except for one random leap of logic (which I did make, but I didn't know why it worked). The hint mechanism was interesting, but the text that showed how to use it should have been the response to HELP, instead of it not knowing that. Otherwise, no guess-the-verb -- guess the logic, yes, and some amount to which the auto-unlock/auto-open wasn't set up as nicely as a lot of modern games, but I can open and unlock things myself if need be.

There just wasn't a lot of there, there. The ending was abrupt as well, with a framing device that didn't really work, although it made a few earlier bits make more sense. I think it needed to be longer, and to have a bit more psychology. Or none at all and a longer, tougher puzzlefest.

Guess that's a theme: more gamification, or less, is a lot of my complaining.

26: Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes
[Twine, played on iPad]

From the title, I was expecting a Bureaucracy homage, or something. Certainly not a short, surreal mess.

There's surreal and entertaining, surreal and unsettling, and gratuitously surreal for no apparent reason. This one was the last of those. It quickly devolved into weird questions and weirder answers, and no clear purpose.

And had at least one bug that didn't feel intentional (although with surreal games that's not always clear). Not my thing.

Next up: Creatures Such as We, Hunger Daemon, Enigma, HHH.exe, The Entropy Cage, Ugly Oafs, Laterna Magica.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment wherever you prefer.
Tags: ifcomp 2014, reviews and reactions

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