Posted 17 November 2004 to rec.games.int-fiction
My IF comp 2004 reviews
Here are short thoughts of the games I was able to play this year — I've been very busy (baby boy etc, you know) so I could play only a handful.
The opening sentences of this game were probably the most impressive for me in this comp (I did look briefly through the openings of all games, and based on the beginning of this one, I knew I just had to play it.) The first sentences manage to evoke a sense of mystery, there's something beautiful, even moving, about them. Also the player point of view was interesting in this one (I mean the setting the deity — the servant —Bellclap). Sometimes it was a bit confusing, though. The atmosphere and the setting of this game reminded me a bit of the Comp2000 game Aftermath (where you wake up in the pile of bodies and raise a monument for the memory of the dead, or something to that extent). This game has the same kind of quality of sticking in your mind a long time afterwards. The puzzles were very hard, though, and I had to resort to the walkthrough regularly. Most of the puzzles I could never have solved on my own and looking at the walkthru I usually felt like 'Huh?' The strong beginning, the narrator point of view and the atmosphere, however, add up to a good score.
A day in the life of a superhero
Again, a beginning that is highly original — definitely in a different league from a typical 'This is your living room. To the east is the kitchen.' etc., which makes one want to quit immediately. So, the start promises good. The people trying to aim at the hanging superhero with different things is just hilarious, and there are numerous other hilarious moments in the game. This one has clearly taken a lot of effort, even if there are some typos ('villian'; some compound words should have been written without a space, etc.) The descriptions are very rich, however, and this is a fun two hours to spend, even if some bugs jar the joy of playing along the way (e.g. I can't talk to all characters I would like to). Also, why do I always have to go to the different places via my apartment? But the game offered me many laughs, that's why it deserves a high score.
This game has something Half-Lifish about it: the violence, the gore, a mysterious man in blue suit, some devilish plan about which we don't know much, etc. This is like a textual version of a first-person shooter and I was drawn into it rather soon, interested to see how it would work. There are obvious shortcomings: bugs (for example, I tried to take the knife off Terry's body but was informed that I already have the knife, going north through the green door takes me back to the same location, etc.), some obvious objects aren't implemented, etc. I appreciate the humor that was thrown in, on the other hand there was some unnecessary gore. At the end of the game, the author promises that more of the same will be in store. I would be delighted to see that, in a bigger scale and after some more extensive beta-testing. The idea of a textual fps could be taken a lot further, as now the player has access to only one actual gun, and the puzzle at the end (where you shoot the padlock with the gun) is just one example of using guns to get rid of the hindrances along the way.
At the start you're supposed to take a drug. Usually I don't like this kind of setting, and I don't know if 10 years forward from now, being an old fart already and having lost some more of my sense of humour, I would quit at the spot. Now, however, I am glad I proceeded. Another powerful start, the room descriptions, descriptions of what happens if I try the same thing a number of times in a row, etc. all draw you into the game and make you want to see what's coming next. The party scene, for example, is very well implemented as a whole. Some points, however, make you wonder why they weren't spotted at the beta-testing stage, such as examining the blue book on the dancefloor, differentiating the keys in the maze (you have a blue key and an ornate blue key, and the game keeps asking you which one you mean whatever you try to type; I had to drop one of the keys in another room to be able to proceed), etc. Also, I understood that, in the party scene, drinking the beer as well as the wine renders the game unwinnable, which means restarting. These minor flaws, however, don't overshadow the fact that this is a very skillfully implemented game and a pleasure to play. It just seems to be a bit too long for the 2-hour limit. I got as far as the maze and had to stop there, as even the hints didn't help me to proceed. I don't still know how much more the game goes on, but I will give it another try in the near future, as I am interested to see how it ends.
I didn't get very far with this one. The beginning seems well-implemented and interesting enough, but I got stuck in the forest soon after and couldn't proceed. Shame, since I would have liked to see more.
This article copyright © 2004, Anssi Raisanen