IF Competition: The Ananachronist

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.

Aw, now this is depressing. The opening of the game wasn’t, I would say, a brilliant piece of writing, but it did leave me optimistic about what was to come: it looked like a fun puzzle game with time travel, a genre we’ve seen a lot of before but which nonetheless retains some potential (not least because there’s such a variety of destinations available to your average time traveler). There were a couple of funny lines. There looked like there were going to be some mechanical challenges and then also perhaps some challenges involving the magic runes. I played a few turns of it a few days ago and then had to put it aside for lack of time. This afternoon I felt in the mood for a bit of puzzlicious poking around in historical settings, and came back to it. And… meh. After diving in with enthusiasm, I quit again about twenty minutes in.

So what’s wrong? Lack of testing, that’s what. Scenery isn’t implemented. Things can be taken that shouldn’t be takable. Really obvious, sensible ways of phrasing really obvious, sensible actions aren’t accounted for. Punctuation errors and misspellings have gone uncorrected. This is the same paragraph I’ve written about I don’t know how many untested games before, because the same problems recur every time. But I’ll say this again, in case it makes any difference this time:

Testing: IT ISN’T OPTIONAL.

It doesn’t matter how hard you personally work on the game, or how clever you are, or whether you have prior programming or writing experience. You cannot make a polished IF game by yourself. No one can.

2 thoughts on “IF Competition: The Ananachronist

  1. I got the impression that English wasn’t the writer’s native language. A lot of the weird phrasings and misspellings were just simple things that felt fundamentally wrong. I wanted to like the game, but in several places I was too frustrated to even figure out what options were available to me.

    (I hesitated at first to mention my “not an English speaker” theory, because I’d feel awkward if I were wrong. But it doesn’t necessarily matter if that’s true or not: That really is how it felt. Whether I’m right or not, some proofreading and playtesting could have made me want to keep playing the game.)

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

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