IF Comp 2014: Paradox Corps (John Evans)

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Paradox Corps is a ChoiceScript game about being part of a temporal law enforcement group. I played through to a negative ending, but am not quite sure what I should have done in order to get a positive one instead. No walkthrough is provided.

Paradox Corps has a big sprawling plot where there are half a dozen major spatio-temporal locations and lots of technological doodads to collect and a plot to thwart. Throughout the game it tends to have a high text-to-choice ratio, often giving you a long page of dialogue and action before you have the opportunity to do anything; this gets more pronounced in the later parts of the game, as the plot gets twistier.

This makes it a very different experience from many of the other choice-based games in this comp, and also from the house brand of Choice of Games. Many of the Twine games present just a sentence or three at a time, encouraging the reader to concentrate on individual phrases and drill down into them through links, engaging with the language itself: a poetic experience. Typical Choice of Games pieces, meanwhile, focus more on the situation, but still keep the choices frequent: they present options a paragraph or two apart, but leaving plenty of room for choices that focus on role-playing and assembling a protagonist personality. Paradox Corps falls somewhere in the spectrum between that typical CoG experience and, say, SilkWords. When the choice to act comes rarely, one wants it to be a comparatively high-powered option, but many of the choices in the later phases of Paradox Corps appear to boil down to choosing the order in which exposition is presented.

I also ran into something in the late game where I had the option to ask about a particular character, but that option was greyed out. In the next page, I then had the option to ask what I think was a follow-up question about her. It felt as though something had gone awry with the continuity there.

This combination of factors made me feel as though I was less and less in control of the game — a sensation that was strengthened because it’s a zany romp through time at high speed, and all the other characters seemed to understand what was going on better than I did. I feel like this amount of plot and event could easily have gone on two or three times as long, in terms of play time.

Other reviews: Sam Kabo Ashwell.

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