If-Comp 07 Reviews from Russia

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Nov 19, 2007, 10:08:49 PM11/19/07
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Enclosed are the reviews of a few IF-Competition games by Zer he
published on the Russian interactive fiction forum. Translated and
published with the author's permission.

The following text doesn't contain any spoilers and basically
represents my personal (albeit not quite un-objective) opinion.


Three in One

In the Mind of the Master - another game by a pretty prolific Adrift
enthusiast, David Whyld. In spite of an interesting intro and a rather
engaging, somewhat dystopian setting that made me think of Kaged by
Ian Finley, no trace was left of the initial merits towards the end of
the game. While the central "idea" of the game isn't original (a
similar idea has been used in All Roads by Jon Ingold), the problem
lies not in the idea itself but in an underdeveloped story and an
indistinct, blurry ending. The whole game seems to be written for one
verb (like the first half of Andrew Plotkin's Spider and Web), but the
climax intended to drive the player out of senses isn't too impressive
(sigh); in addition, the "winning" action isn't quite clear, although
the author desperately to make it this way. Rating: 5

Mom, We're All Seriously Ill!*)

Reconciling Mother - Some university develops a secret technology for
the government. You're not the first, but
the 50th(!!!) one agent sent there by the government in order to
retrieve the results. None of your predecessors came back. Sound like
one of those numerous delirious "spy novels"? Admitted, I'm not a big
fan of them, but when, after arriving at my destination point, I found
out that the name of the educational institution is Miskatonic
University (which, as is well known, is located in the "wonderful"
Lovecraftian city of Arkham) I started rubbing my hands, anticipating
a juicy piece of horror, and prepared myself to being frightened;
however, what I saw couldn't be put in any genre category at all.
Which, of course, wouldn't automatically mean
it was bad, if it didn't represent an awful and tasteless (at least,
in my eyes) jumble. The narration itself
shows very unfortunate choices regarding style - essentially, there's
no style at all, and the room descriptions
often represent conglamerates of short, "chopped" sentences devoid of
any literary charm:

You are in a parking lot. There are no cars here. It is early morning
so the sky is still dark. It is cold.

The NPCs present in the game are implemented worse than mediocre. The
game has many puzzles, but most of them employ a strange logic that is
impenetrable for me, and solving them isn't satisfying at all. Inter
ana, the game doesn't seem to be beta-tested at all. Evidence of that
are:

- a confusing text arrangement (for instance, dialogs mixed up with
actions, missing quotation marks/spaces, etc.);
- lacking synonyms (including those mentioned in the author's text);
- death of the protagonist, which, however, doesn't set off a "you
have died" sequence (actually, you find yourself stuck in the room
where you died);
- objects present in room descriptions the player can't refer to.

After losing interest in the plotline, getting lost in the indistinct
atmosphere, breaking my teeth on ferroconcrete puzzles, and being
surrounded by numerous bugs, I gave up. Rating: 3

* - Actually, that's a quotation from a popular Russian song

Swinish Work

Lost Pig - Grunk forget hasp door. Pig run away from Grunk. Boss now
mad about Grunk. Pig clever, but Grunk no fool. No. Grunk just think
slowly. Grunk find pig and bring back to boss. Boss get happy.

A very nice and not style-less entry. a CC-clone... ehm... "CC"
doesn't mean "Command & Conquer", but rather "Cave Crawler".

The protagonist and the narrator are the same person in this game
(although it uses the standard second-person narration); thus, the
descriptions of rooms, events, and objects are described out of the
eyes of a slow-witted, not-too-bright orc. This is a very effective
and stunning device, and it's implemented very well (because, you
know, "bad" writing is something one has to master).

>eat pig
pig look really tasty... But Boss say that if Grunk not bring back
pig, Grunk not bring back Grunk!

>break pig
Grunk think that farmer maybe get mad if Grunk bring back broken pig.

>eat pie (picture of pie on the wall)
Mmm, pie. Sluuurp. Hey! Pie taste like wall! Bah. Pig stare at Grunk
like Grunk crazy.

Pig walk under table. Pig pretty short if pig can walk under table.
But that because it pig.

Why, isn't it delightful? The atmosphere is solid, the interactivity
level is excellent, the puzzles (in whole pretty standard for CC) -
somewhat above average. Rating: 7

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