IF Comp 2011: Last Day of Summer

Last Day of Summer is a very short, very easy atmospheric puzzle game set in a somewhat ambiguously pre-modern time.

Last Day of Summer is a very short piece, reasonably polished though not obsessively so. The puzzles are few and easy — mostly of the form Find Object X, Use Object X In Obvious Fashion. Descriptions are brief, verging on curtness. The plot requires a good bit of adventure-game thinking, since it’s not clear that the protagonist would naturally think to try many of these solutions.

Most of the charm comes from the slightly spacey, surreal feel of a pre-modern town seen through the eyes of childhood, and from the feeling that more is going on in the corners than the protagonist will ever fully understand. As with a certain other game this comp, there’s a certain amount of ambiguity about whether the fantastic elements of the story are true or simply imagined by some of the participants — I wonder whether this is the influence of last year’s The Warbler’s Nest making itself felt.

Also, I’m not sure what to make of this, but a significant portion of the game involves a reference to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. It’s one of those nods that’s too pointed to ignore (the protagonist is even called ‘Tolmy Cubbins’), but doesn’t have any obvious meaning when played off the rest of the plot. (At least, not for me. Maybe someone else can explain why that was important and apropos?)

Slight as the game is, I came away from Last Day of Summer with pleasant feelings.

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