IF Comp 2009: Byzantine Perspective

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 11.59.23 PMAs has been my practice for the last few years, I’ve set my RSS feed to truncate entries so that I can post reviews without spoilerage. Within an entry, there is a short, spoilerless discussion (though the comp purists may want to avoid reading even that before playing for themselves); then spoiler space; then a more detailed discussion of what I thought did and didn’t work in the game.

I’m also pursuing an approach I came up with last year: I’m playing and reviewing games that have listed beta-testers, and skipping those that don’t. Last year that turned out to be a pretty fool-proof indicator of which games were going to end up scoring 4 or less on my personal scale. I’m hoping this will mean I have more time to devote to the remaining games, which in turn will (I hope) be of higher quality, and you, dear reader, will have fewer rants inflicted on you.

Now up: Byzantine Perspective.

You too can play it if you download the comp games, or even try it online.

A brief but cool heist game with some nice polish, including cover art and a sweet feelie. The feelie is really really useful to solving it, incidentally.

The concept of “Byzantine perspective” is not one I’d heard of before, but it’s cool and the title fits the game very pleasingly.

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I don’t have a huge amount to say about this because it has one essential concept, executes it well, and then ends. It’s pretty easy, but I felt pleased with myself when I worked out what was going on. I also enjoyed the setting and the fact that my protagonist reads Greek. My only nitpicks are small nitpicks: I would’ve liked a bit more description of the things in the museum, maybe, and I think lacquerwork is misspelled on the feelie. And I feel like a jerk even pointing that out, because I really like the feelie.

See? Pointless little things.

It’s tiny, but it’s well constructed and the solution is satisfying and novel. So yay.

ETA, after reading other reviews: it looks like a lot of people didn’t get this, and therefore didn’t like it as much. That’s really a pity, because the main puzzle was very satisfying to solve and would have been a lot less fun if solved with a walkthrough.

I’m not sure what made the difference for me. Some of the reviewers complain that the game seemed buggy to them, but there were quite a few bits in the text that seemed to be emphasizing that All is Not as it Seems and that this was On Purpose. Between that and the feelie I felt sure the author intended the effect I was experiencing, and I was happy to keep exploring it until I understood.

13 thoughts on “IF Comp 2009: Byzantine Perspective

  1. This review sold me on playing this game, and I searched fruitlessly for a download link. (Then I went and found it myself on ifcomp.org) It would be cool if you link to these games when you review them :)

  2. I think this is a real bug: When I enter “fix goggles” I get “What do you want to fix goggles ?” Obviously the weird navigation is intentional, but this message seems less so.

    Oh, and thanks for pointing out the feelie. I’m going to see if I can stop being bewildered with its help.

    • If that’s a bug, it’s a bug in the Inform library: “fix” is understood as a synonym for tie or attach — which is a possible usage, just not the primary usage in at least American English. I’ve heard people complain about this before, so it’s possibly something we should think about revising, but it’s not based on anything intentional on the author’s part.

      • Good to know. FWIW, my original post didn’t represent the message I got (because I forgot about the effect of angle brackets). It was “What do you want to fix goggles (illegal object number 3089)?” where the parentheses are angle brackets.

      • For what it’s worth, I just got the same error in Beta Tester (on “Ask Matron Dee” — “What do you want to ask Matron Dee (illegal object number 2885)?” This seems like another situation where it’s trying to disambiguate and there may not be anything for it to disambiguate among.

      • …and it seems like it’s most likely a Parchment issue. I’m leaving a comment at the developer’s blog to alert him of the bug.

  3. I’m quite glad I read this post before playing, as I got stuck on a couple wrong ideas about what was Going On – an experience not without its temptations – before getting it. That was indeed satisfying!

  4. This seems like one of those things where you Get It, or you Don’t. In the software industry, there are some questions you can pose to an job candidate which fall into this category, and which don’t tell you much more than whether or not the person had the right flash of insight at the right time.

    (Though not quite—as Ms. Short noted, there are loud hints that things look awry, and a quick search for “Byzantine perspective” may be enough to prod someone in the correct direction, as it eventually was for me.)

    There were definitely bugs (e.g. text along the lines of “There is a here”), but nothing crippling.

  5. Pingback: Where He Makes His Gin Is a Secret Yet « Saucers of Mud

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