IF Competition: Afflicted

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.

Man, this is a weird game. I shifted what I thought it was going to be about three or four separate times. Ultimately, it’s gory and off-putting enough that I didn’t really get into the story as much as I might have.

Still, it’s easy enough that you’ll probably get to an ending, and well-enough implemented that you won’t be cross-eyed with rage when you get there. Both of those are positive points, no?









I’m not hugely squeamish really, but there wasn’t much to the content of this game other than its ick factor. This was so extreme that it stopped being scary or horrifying really early in the proceedings. I would have been much more frightened if Nikolai’s joint had seemed mostly normal, with just a few disturbing hints that All Is Not Right. As it was, I started finding severed body parts right near the beginning, and the restaurant is almost too vile to take seriously. Meanwhile, Nikolai seems, shall we say, implausibly uninterested in my coming and going. Perhaps in the manner of arrogant movie villains he assumes that I am no longer a threat to him, but hmm.

Points, though, for an ending in which my right hand is a vampire. (Random disclosure: probably my favorite episode of Angel is the one with the Evil Hand. This reminded me of that. Briefly.)

After reading some other reviews: it looks as though other people got into this a lot more than I did. I wonder whether the determining factor is that a lot of these people got inside the restaurant before they started to find body parts. I found the eyeballs while I was still outside, which made it clear that something really nasty was going on, and reduced the shock factor of discovering subsequent body parts. It also felt unrealistic that I was expected to go ahead and start my health inspection when plainly I ought to be calling the police about my gruesome discovery.

For much of the game I thought maybe there was a serial killer at work, who might or might not be Nikolai, but the whole health inspection thing still seemed semi-irrelevant (though I obediently noted some of the more obvious infractions in my notebook because, well, it was there).

I think the whole thing would have worked more naturally if I had been able to begin the inspection under the illusion that it was (somewhat) normal.

10 thoughts on “IF Competition: Afflicted

  1. Huh. I dutifully noted down enough violations to close the place down before I started seeing any body parts, although I did get a very clear sense that there was something much more wrong with the place lon before then. So I guess I was going through the beginning of the game in something like the manner the author intended. The problem is that once I did start finding the more gruesome bits of evidence, I had no idea what to do about it; I’m just a health inspector, for pity’s sake. So I get into the car with the intention of going to the police, but the stupid protagonist simply goes and submits the report to the board of health (despite having been sensible enough to know that evidence of murder is too serious to go in the notebook, thereby ensuring that no one reading the report would think to call the police, either). Game over. So I got the “you feel like you’ve missed something but you’re not sure what” ending, even though I had a pretty good sense of what the PC missed. (Still, I had no idea about the vampiric right hand alternative, so I guess I really didn’t know what I was missing.)

  2. Yes, I started out thinking that things were normal, albeit unpleasant, and so got more of a slow revelation. I didn’t find any body parts until I got to the scullery, which you can’t reach without the flashlight (which doesn’t seem to be available until a certain point in the game). It was only after reading other reviews that I realized you could find the eyeballs in the drain outside. I wonder if that’s a bug or just a bad design decision? Story-wise, you shouldn’t really find them until you’ve found Sofia’s body.

    I love Angel and I now want to find the evil hand ending. I missed that one entirely on my playthrough.

  3. Yes, I can see how the game would not work if you start finding body parts before you start your actual inspection. It was the slow change from the latter to the former that worked best when I played this game.

  4. I took it as a commentary on the main character; I pictured him as being so absurdly dedicated to the rules that he dutifully notes down every severed limb in his notebook, then continues with his inspection undaunted (in fact, I immediately attempted to note the severed limbs after finding them, and the game does have a humorous response which half-implies that the reason why your character ignores them the way he does is because he can’t quite think of an exact health code violation to assign to them. Unfortunately there is no such response for the ‘corpse’.)

    I was actually vaguely disappointed when the game forced me to stop writing down violations; I expected the endgame to involve me being chased by some sort of horrible murderer/serial-killer/werewolf/vampire/whatever restaurant-owner while I dutifully note down his homicidal tendencies as a health code violation in my notebook. I was particularly looking forward to a big reveal where the gruesome monster or whatever leaps out at me, accompanied by a [Nikolai’s sanitation rating has dropped a hundred points.] or something similar.

  5. I didn’t find the eyeballs at first either, and I can’t imagine that the game would have felt anywhere as good as it did if I had. The health inspection and the finding and noting down of the violations was just sheer fun for me, and it felt like an effortless, completely smooth motivation and pacing device, making me explore without feeling contrived or forced. Deprived of that, I can totally see how you weren’t that impressed with it.

  6. I felt it was not supposed to be taken completely seriously.

    On the other hand, I am sure the health inspection situation (as well as what happens when the police after you break the glass) could be handled better if you do things out of the expected order.

  7. I thought this was awful. Sure the puzzles might have been okay, but my motivation for attempting them was zero. When I’m given a character in IF, I like to play as that character. What would a health inspector do upon seeing a severed hand… hmmmm leg it!

    This would have been much better if only the author came up with some plausible reason for the character to go through the motions. Hell all they had to do was make nikolai prevent you from leaving and make the window unbreakable, forcing us to kill him in order to escape.

  8. Pingback: IF Competition: General Reflections and Favorites | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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