Another IF Comp review, following my format for this comp. There is a cut, then any spoiler-free comments I have, and then spoiler space, and then more detailed feedback that assumes the reader has tried the game.
But first, we have some obligatory filler to try to make sure that the RSS summary does not accidentally contain any review. Filler, filler, la la la…
Okay. Here we go.
I’ve got a theory about this.
The obvious question is why this game was written and submitted at all. People who submit terrible games usually do so because they can’t tell their game is terrible; or because they set out to write a good game, realize the result is terrible, but can’t bear not to submit it anyway; or because they’re setting off to amuse, annoy, make a statement to, or have fun at the expense of the community. But none of those explanations apply here: it is clearly something that isn’t intended to be good, was never intended to be good, isn’t funny, doesn’t effectively parody anything, has no message, doesn’t sucker-punch the player the way Sisyphus did, and isn’t even that annoying. So I was confused for a while, until I thought about RAIF traffic during September. And here’s my theory:
Dean Menezes signed up to submit a game to the competition, but he didn’t get around to writing it (or didn’t get around to finishing it, or didn’t think the results were as good as he wanted, or whatever). Whatever the reason, he had an entry slot, but nothing he wanted to put there. But then there were two surveys about what people like in IF, which revealed that people especially dislike
1) total lack of plot
2) games where random elements determine victory or death
3) stories where the goal is something extremely banal (ie, the stakes are trivial)
…at which point a light went on over his head and he decided to put all these ingredients together scientifically to concoct the worst IF game ever. With a maze, of course, because everyone knows that mazes suck.
Except, as people have been pointing out, this is not actually the worst IF game ever. The paradox is that to be really, really bad, a game has to have something a little bit good about it. Amissville has this weird gonzo brilliance about the character observations, even though it’s too broken to play. Detective tries to tell a story. Westfront PC is totally earnest — and ambitious, given the technical limitations it has to work with. Press Escape to Save had a ludicrous plot and poor implementation and implausible dialogue and incomprehensible imagery, but the narrative voice somehow conveyed that the author was excited about his work, and thought you should be too. (I secretly enjoyed Press Escape to Save, actually.) The Annoyotron/Affrontotron series tempts the player to try to figure out how the game works, while making the process of finding out as excruciating as possible. However you come at the problem, there has to be something about the game that entices the player to keep playing despite his growing annoyance and/or boredom.
“The Absolute Worst IF Game in History” has no such good feature, and therefore does not even come close to being Worst.
Ah well. My theory may be totally wrong. But I like it, because without some such theory there is no reason at all for this game to exist.