Extreme Omnivore: Text Edition, by Hazel Gold.
First impressions: nice cover art, snappy blurb, short parser game: looks like it could be a fun start to the comp, or it could be a "my first IF game is a description of my apartment".
Unfortunately, it's mostly the latter. The prose is pretty good, especially the way as you keep looking and looking at stuff there are more descriptions that emphasize how hungry the protagonist is, but there's some execution errors -- it uses standard north-south directions for navigation, always an IF conceit, but it doesn't describe where the exits are, so you have to guess. And a lot of items have minor implementation issues -- if you look in the jacket, you find nothing, not even a prompt that it has pockets, but you can look in the pockets. Etc. There's no cue to try the door again, either.
It's a *good* first IF programming exercise in putting together an apartment sim, but it's not a game.
The Mysterious Stories of Caroline, by Soham S
First impressions: This game is very straight-up about being about some heavy subjects, and the blurb is half synopsis and half expectation-setting, both about the material and about how the choice-based engine is going to run.
A lot of times, in these darker games, the interactivity (or lack of real choices) is a lot of the point; some of them are really depressing, and those aren't usually my cup of tea, but when they're well-done I do appreciate the craft that goes into them. (Like last year's Bogeyman.) Here goes nothing.
I was expecting a more ChoiceScript-style engine from the blurb; instead, there's only a handful of choices, and a heavily multi-media experience. Which mostly is smooth; sometimes it won't let me move on to the next screen for a while, but it mostly chugs along. The confusing thing is the protagonist, to me; we get almost no introspection, and for a game that's so much about feelings, we get none of them. It does contribute to the experience that this is a very traumatized man, but it's also really confusing when there's no indication to the player whether the choice they're about to pick is the truth or a lie, and the outcome hinges on that. And it's unclear to me if that's intentional; it feels like it isn't, when we get consequences that reflect it, rather than continuing ambiguity.
It's very ambitious, and it refrains from getting lurid at all (which I appreciate), but it doesn't quite pull off the atmosphere it's going for.
Treasure Hunt in the Amazon, by Kenneth Pedersen and Niels Søndergaard
And in the kind of tonal whiplash I love IFComp for, a 1985 puzzler, translated and updated. I'm going to try to play it in the online option.
The online engine is very slow (although switching browsers helped), but I'm not going to blame the game for that. I really, really appreciate the modern conveniences; thank you no hunger timer. It's sturdily implemented, but definitely old-school. Also, I'm completely stuck not very far in. The walkthrough point me to the fact that I'd tried the right idea, but hadn't examined the right thing (getting the rope). It also points me to needing an item I was already sure I needed, but hadn't found, and ended up needing the walkthrough to locate. Cute, but very, very old-school, complete with stereotypical generic natives, illogical puzzles, and unnecessarily large caves. The modernization and translation is really solidly done, though.
This entry was originally posted at https://antimony.dreamwidth.org/11495.html. Please comment wherever you prefer.