Ectocomp is a yearly competition for Halloween-themed IF. There are two subsections, one for games that were written in three hours or less, and one for authors who wanted to take longer. That three hour rule gives a sense of the casualness level of this competition: it’s kind of a mental break from the much heavier-duty, on-going IF Comp. Still, there’s quite a lot in this year’s competition — 16 entries in the speed-IF category, and 5 in the unlimited-time category.
A couple of highlights from the things I’ve had time to try so far:
Psychomanteum (Hanon Ondricek)
On a dare, you are forced to spend some time alone in a dark room with mirrors. Which should not be inherently horrible, right? Besides, you have matches, and a safeword. But I’ll say this: I wound up having the protagonist use the safeword the first time through, because I was pretty sure they were too freaked out to stay and see how much worse things were going to get. Then I went back and played it to the other ending. An unnerving experiential game. It’s not exactly puzzle-y, but the parser aspect of it works really well, because there were several points where I wasn’t sure whether to WAIT or try to take an action, and that ambiguity is spot-on for the content. If you can, play with the sound on: the soundtrack also helps a lot.
Vlad the Impala (Pumpkin B. Parjeter)
A self-evidently unserious puzzle game in which you, an impala, are being held responsible for someone else’s crimes. The layout is pretty, and care has gone into the sound effects and extra features. I haven’t finished solving its main puzzle, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far.
The Periwink (Jedediah Berry)
A lovely little dark piece that offers the protagonist both overt choices and covert thoughts. I love the formatting choices. (Yeah, I know, there’s a typo in “majorodomo” in this screen — it’s the only one I saw in the game, though, and I didn’t want to screenshot too much later on and give things away.) I’m a big fan of Berry’s Twine writing as well as his shuffle fiction.
That’s just a taste, though — there’s a lot else in here, and I haven’t had a chance to try nearly all of them. If you want to play and judge, ratings are being accepted through November 30.