IF Comp 2009: Interface

Interface2As 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.

Currently: Interface.

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

The author notes warn me that this is going to be a pretty old-school adventure, and lo, it is. The premise is silly and the puzzles are easy. The first few moves of the game made me pretty nervous (more about that after the spoiler space), but once I’d settled in I found this playable and not without charm.









So, two things that left me apprehensive at the beginning:

1. There is a huge, huge info-dump on the first move, before I’d had time to get my bearings at all. That made me a bit nervous about what the rest of the interaction would be like.

2. The opening location is described as boring. It’s a bad call, especially on the very first room, to tell your player that your setting is dull and not worth examining: they’re all too likely to agree with you. If what you mean is that the room was decorated by a person with bad taste or little money, then find some more interesting way to describe that.

I also got into a state partway through the game where the hints made me think I’d made things unwinnable. (It turns out from the notes on the walkthrough that there actually was an alternate solution, but I didn’t realize that.) It’s not a huge deal because by this point I had in fact solved almost all of the game by myself; still, I would have preferred to work out that last part rather than start over with the walkthrough. I guess part of the issue here is that I wasn’t motivated to try further to press the garage door opening button because a) there were other doors in the game that seemed to be permanently locked and b) my initial attempts to reach the button by pressing it with things had been a total failure, and I didn’t realize that my clumsy robot self would actually have more success with throwing things.

Something I did like: Gilby. He has an amusing range of stuff to do while he’s getting ready, and I had fun following him around the house.

So: a couple of design tweaks would’ve made this stronger. Still, at the end of the day it was always going to be what the author says, a piece of work to gratify his inner 14-year-old. Judged on that standard, it’s not bad.

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