IF Competition: Recess at Last

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.

Solidly constructed and plausible, and with a few charming moments, but the premise and narrative were bland enough that they didn’t move me much.

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I was sort of expecting this to turn out to be a much longer and more complicated game — for something to happen, for instance, once I’d finally won my freedom. There certainly seemed to be a lot of school implemented, relative to the complexity of the tasks that I needed to complete. So when I got the winning ending, I thought, What? Really? That’s it?

I suspect this game just isn’t going to stick with me long — it dimly reminds me of “History Repeating” from a previous year, which I also found competent but bland.

10 thoughts on “IF Competition: Recess at Last

  1. It was pretty bland, but I think I liked a lot better than you did, partly because it really resonated with my experiences in grade school, and partly because most of the comp games I’ve played this year were pretty awful. Seriously, though, is it just me or is this a pretty lousy comp year?

  2. Seriously, though, is it just me or is this a pretty lousy comp year?

    Someone asks this every year.

    In my experience, there are three kinds of “bad” that people mean when they say it’s a bad year:

    1) the worst games in it are really terrible (the bottom is lower)
    2) the best games in it are not that exciting (the top is lower)
    3) the proportion of good to bad is low (and probably therefore the mean is lower)

    It’s possible — indeed, usual — for only one of these conditions to apply at a time. I think last year we had relatively few really poor/joky/offensively underimplemented games. This year there are more. (My patience for games entered as a joke drops every year anyway.)

    On the other hand, I’ve given out I think an unusual number of 9s this year, too. There is some good stuff — the best of which is very ambitious and unusual.

    In addition to that, this is a pleasingly varied year. Some years skew serious (2006) or comedic (2007) or experimental or traditional, but 2008 has a fair mix of all of these.

  3. What did you guys get for #2 on the Vasco de Gama worksheet? Seriously, I could not find the exact phrasing the game wanted, and the walkthrough does not take that path.

    And how do you quote people with italics on this blog? Is it HTML tags?

  4. What did you guys get for #2 on the Vasco de Gama worksheet? Seriously, I could not find the exact phrasing the game wanted, and the walkthrough does not take that path.

    And how do you quote people with italics on this blog? Is it HTML tags?

  5. Pingback: IF Competition: General Reflections and Favorites « Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction

  6. This game seems impressively well implemented, and it’s nicely written, and (as Molly noted) there are some very tasty madeleines in there for anyone who attended an elementary school like the one in the game. It’s just… um… not as interesting as I’d like.

    Jepflast’s comment surprised me on two count. First, I hadn’t realized that there were multiple solutions, which is cool. Second, when I filled in the worksheet, I deliberately tried not giving an exact quotation from the book for question 2, but the game evidently recognized what I wrote as being close enough and filled in what it was expecting for me. (I wrote “the sea route to the Orient, for which so many died”; the game recorded it as “Ocean route to the Orient.”)

  7. I’m surprised at the higher scores I’m seeing for this game. I found it buggy, unpolished, and in many ways unplayable without hints or the walkthrough. Usually my experience lines up pretty nicely with everybody else’s, but this game seems to be the oddball.

    And am I the only person who had to suffer through an engine error message before every single prompt through almost the entire game??? :(

  8. partly because it really resonated with my experiences in grade school
    One of my problems was that it completely failed to resonate with my experiences. In my elementary school, we went out for recess through the front door–not through a side door in some other classroom. If the librarian had a book for us, we’d ask her…etc. I spent a lot of this game asking “What? They run schools like this?”

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