IF Comp 2011: Overview

I’m now done with my comp play-through, though some games in the not-recommended pile that will not be reviewed because they don’t list beta-testers. If you have reason to believe I’ve placed something in that category in error, or you know that there were testers even if they weren’t listed, feel free to let me know.

What follows is a non-spoilery list of recommendations and non-recommendations. I’ve been adding to it as I played, but now that I’ve finished the whole field, I’ve redistributed a bit, mostly to try to help people find things they’re most likely to enjoy; that means I’ve taken away the “Must Play” category and replaced it with subcategories.

But some general points: this year sees a lot of entrants and a lot of high-quality work. The proportion of flatly unplayable stuff is low, and many of the mid-range games nonetheless demonstrate interesting ideas and a lot of authorial talent. There are a variety of experiments with user interface — that probably deserves its own compare-and-contrast column; games that explore morality and complicity from several philosophical angles; and every flavor of noir you can imagine. If you like wearing a fedora, this is the comp year for you.

You will find a bunch of other reviews linked here.

Most Intriguing
(Received a score in the 7-10 range and has distinctive qualities that are likely to come up in future craft and theory discussions.)

The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M (moral questions, puzzle/story blend)
The Play (character portrayal, interesting themes)
Kerkerkruip (textual roguelike)
PataNoir (unique wordplay mechanic)

Most Fun
(Received a score in the 7-10 range and is sufficiently polished, charming, and fun to recommend to players outside the community.)

Taco Fiction
Escape from Santaland
Six (pitched for kids, but I had fun anyway; arguably the most thoroughly polished game in the competition)

(Received a score in the 6-8 range, worth a look.)

Cana According to Micah (assuming you’re up for something explicitly Christian)
Tenth Plague
The Binary
Beet the Devil (with some minor polish issues)
The Guardian
Ted Paladin and the Case of the Abandoned House (short, but inventive puzzles)

Ambitious Concept but Flawed Design
(May still be worth playing, but the design doesn’t quite live up to the concept.)

Fan Interference
The Hours
Return to Camelot

Competent Execution but Limited Concept
(Design is somewhere on the spectrum between adequate and excellent, but the game is pretty short and the concept not very ambitious.)

Cold Iron
Last Day of Summer
Playing Games
How Suzy Got Her Powers

Recommended Later If The Authors Do Some Cleanup
(Genuinely has something going for it, but there are significant polish issues. More testing attention and possibly some design tweaks would turn this into a vastly more playable experience.)

Death of Schlig
The Elfen Maiden/A Comedy of Error Messages
Awake the Mighty Dread
The Myothian Falcon

Not Recommended
(No testers listed, so these games will not be reviewed.)

Fog Convict
OperationExtraction (might be interesting as a demo piece, though)
Professor Frank
The Ship of Whimsy

Not Rated
(Didn’t finish for personal reasons, or some other issue arose.)

Andromeda Awakening (and followup)
Sentencing Mr Liddell
Dead Hotel [no review, Windows only]

9 thoughts on “IF Comp 2011: Overview”

  1. I can understand why you dislike testers, but from playing the beginning of Blind, it’s very, very interesting. I don’t plan on swaying your decision, I just felt like I should say that is all.

    1. yes i agree Blind does actually seem pretty good – but it does have stupid things that (assuming it wasn’t beta tested) a beta test would have (should have) highlighted…

      as an example (spolier-y) the desk in the room: we’re told “To examine an object more completely, you should actually feel it, smell it, and listen to it (‘f’, ‘sm’, and ‘h’, respectively)”. but you can only find what you’re after by examining the desk – which just seems really sloppy, and as for >f braille – i don’t know the word “braille”… but saying that though, it’s got some interesting ideas…

    2. Blind is my favorite game of the comp so far. (Admittedly, I’ve only played 5.) It has a few things that I think a play-tester could have caught, but the play-tested ones have all had more serious issues than that.

  2. “The Elfen Maiden [no testers listed, so there’s no review]”

    FYI, the 16 October update of this game lists four beta testers in the (updated) walkthrough.

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