I played 26 games with the following score distribution:
The average score I gave out was approximately 5.4, which seems about
right, but you'll note the distribution is odd. In retrospect (and I'll
get into this more in my real review notes) I think there are some
scores I might have changed if I had not been trying to stick to a
specific scoring system (which I threw out for a few games anyhow);
specifically, I think several of my 6 and under score would have move
down a notch, and that one of those 8s might have been a 9... and one of
the 9s might have been a 10. But I did have a 'system', and in being
'fair' (by my standards, because I only have mine, tovarishch) that's
what I ended up with.
Overall, I think the entries I played were of a higher caliber than the
ones I played last year, and it's not just that I'm less cranky (as
you'll get to see) in general.
Here's a few preliminary comments:
I found several games that were highly surreal, including my favorite
entry. I don't know if it's just my definition of surreal, if this was a
particulary surreal comp, or what, but it sure seemed that way overall
to me. I am, I must note, perfectly fine with this, however. I love
surreal when it's done well, as it was in several games. It was great.
Some of the things people liked the least about certain games were what
my personal attraction to them were. I always find this amusing.
I found several games that I cannot understand why they were entered. I
don't mean they were unready, I mean I can't understand someone taking
the time to even WRITE them in the first place. This disturbed me.
It's, with an apostrophe, is a contraction of 'it is', a statement
defining something's state. Its, without an apostrophe, is a possessive.
Many authors this year seemed very unclear on this.
Mini-Reviews (Okay, so this is technically a review post, it's just not
THE review post I intend on doing):
Ratings of 2:
On the Other Side -- I'd like to see someone implement this in a way
that actually worked. The '2' was for 'cool idea'. Implementation was
Breaking the Code -- Really should have been rated a 1, except I for
some reason decided that it was a clever idea albeit not a game.
Ratings of 3:
Asendent -- Rybread did it better.
Comp00ter Game -- This was one of the game in the category of
'disturbing that someone did this'. Annoying on purpose is annoying
still. I think the only reason it rated as much as a 3 is that writing
poorly is a skill in itself.
Futz Mutz -- I did not finish this game. I did not want to. I found the
sound highly annoying, and while it's true that I could've found a way
to play without it, I wasn't motivated to. I will admit that animal
games are also not my bag, but that wasn't all of it.
Stupid Kittens -- Nor was it in this game. I just felt this game was
obnoxious. I didn't finish this one, either. Kitty litter is really not
my cup of tea.
VOID: Corporation -- Another on the Not Finished list, this time because
I couldn't even begin to figure out what to do on top of what I felt was
a really poor interface. The premise did interest me to some extent, but
implementation was poor.
What-IF: Another generous rating, because this was not a game at all. I
just liked the particular topics being written about.
Ratings of 4:
Aftermath: Games that try to push emotions on me are generally
unappreciated by me. Plus the spelling was heinous, and it got
distracting after a while.
Masque of the Last Faeries: I might have liked this game better if it
weren't for the fact that I felt throughout like the characters knew FAR
more than I did and I was missing huge pieces of information.
Wrecked: The interface and the descriptions both really got to me, and I
think the latter was unfortunately an artifact of Adrift from what I've
seen in looking at the system. I kinda wish I'd gotten to the other one
(and may yet play it) to see for sure. There were other problems, too,
but those can wait for the longer review.
Ratings of 5:
Happy Ever After: I could not finish this. I don't know if I was being
stupid or if I really was stuck because of game implementation problems,
but it got to me. Still, I think with some more testing and careful
attention to code and description this could've been a good game, so it
got a higher rating than it might have really warranted in its current
Pickpocket: Another game I got seriously stuck on that had, however,
some writing that I felt was done well and I think a relatively okay
idea. I'd like to see this one worked on a bit more, too.
The Trip: I'm actually still not sure how this ended up with a 5,
because the more I think about it the more I think I didn't like it as
much as that. I'm going to save specific comments for the larger set of
Ratings of 6:
1-2-3... -- A good deal of this 6 was predicated on the idea rather than
the implementation, except for the different-points-of-view part, which
I wholly enjoyed. There were some good bits in the writing as well,
though some of it needs serious reworking.
The Big Mama -- Another game that I'm not entirely sure really would
have had a score this high if I'd thought about it longer. I think it
was that I enjoyed the writing a lot more than anything; to be honest,
the actual -story- (stories, I should say, maybe) didn't interest me all
Ratings of 7:
Desert Heat -- REALLY evocative writing and a somewhat interesting (but
somewhat lacking in a few ways) plot. Not the style of game I think
should be common, but it worked in this case.
Guess the Verb -- Very funny in spots, but I had some serious trouble
with the puzzles. Another very surreal game that probably got bonus
points because of that fact.
Rameses -- An interesting idea, a slightly bizarre interface, and some
of the funnier archetypical characters I've seen in a while, overall
worth the playing time.
Ratings of 8:
Being Andrew Plotkin -- I must first say that I have never seen _Being
John Malkovich_, which I presume there was some relation to (but,
obviously, don't know). The thing that most captured my interest in this
game was not the premise but the character switches and the way the
characters saw each other. Very neat, something I would actually enjoy
seeing more of.
The End Means Escape -- I know I'm going to be in a minority, but for
some reason I really, really liked this entry in Surreal Comp. Trying to
explain why is beyond me at the moment, but I'll work on it for the
Kaged -- I had a few problems with this game (including not being able
to get to the alternate endings I know existed) but as an overall IF
work I rather thought it was cool. Plus I actually felt like the extras
were well integrated into the game, which was worth something.
Masquerade -- Some absolutely lovely writing that is precisely my cup of
tea insofar as style goes. While I found the carry-me-away style of
interaction a bit jarring at first, it ended up working well for me. I
intend on playing it again to see other endings.
Metamorphoses -- This is another game I don't think I can really explain
my attraction to at the moment, considering my notes are heavy on how
non-obvious I found the puzzles. Writing style and particularly room
descriptions are the big attractions here, I think.
And, lastly, the 9s:
Shade -- My favorite entry. I was actually mildly surprised to discover
who the author was, because (no offense) I generally don't enjoy his
games as much as I did this one, mostly due to fiendish puzzles. This
one just clicked with me. I loved it. I raved about it for two days. I
highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something a bit
different. It's not a classic adventure game by any means. It is just
plain bizarre. And it came damn close to getting a 10.
Planet of the Infinite Minds -- I could not stop laughing as I played this
game, which counts for a lot with my score. It was very well written. I
know some people disliked this game (and that's fine; that's what
opinions are all about), but I rather liked the writing style (only one
or two passages didn't please) and it also had my favorite puzzle in the
competition: the one involving the cards, which I just felt was
Full, lengthy, and detailed reviews will probably escape from my mind
sometime in the coming week.