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.
Implementation: not awful, but not hugely polished. Writing: okay, with a couple of evocative bits. Plot: Meh.
This is short enough that it’s not going to waste any vast amounts of your life, and there is some imaginative stuff in it, but on the other hand I am not sure I can strongly recommend it either.
My thought on reaching the end here was:
You are shitting me.
Not, as I think the author hoped, because the twist was a Shock, but because it’s such a cheap old gimmick. (See 9a.) And besides, that outcome is infinitely less interesting than the strange horror hinted at during the setup, in which the shadows themselves seem to be animated with evil intention, and light doesn’t work as it should. That was more the stuff of a new Doctor Who episode and less the stuff of magazine slushpile — or would have been if it had been done with more discipline and fewer heffalumps.
On top of this, the interaction design — in which the player has to repeat the same action over and over again in order to get to any ending — runs really contrary to IF player expectations and habits; so the odds are good that you’ll trap the player with nothing at all to do, increasingly bored and frustrated, until he goes to the hints, rather than letting him make this great discovery himself. It’s possible to pull this off (see “Hunter, in Darkness”), but you have to be kind of clever about how to tell the player he can’t do something while simultaneously hinting that actually he can (or that that’s the only sensible action, so he’ll be inclined to try again anyway).
On points of implementation: I can MOVE SHADOWS as though they were embodied physical things. I cannot, on the other hand, talk to my sister, or give her or show her anything, or do anything to comfort her except to hug her.
Bottom line: the author has potential, given a better premise.