The annual IF competition is now on! I’m reviewing the games here as I go along, and a number of other people are also doing blog write-ups. Here are the ones I know of:
J. Robinson Wheeler
“Another Mr Lizard”
Sarah Morayati (Lucea)
Russian reviews (if your grasp of Russian is like mine, namely nonexistent, you may want this comical Google translation instead)
Merk (Mike Snyder)
http://minimumsafedistance.org/ (warning: reviews don’t seem to be cut-tagged)
Cesia (no cut-tags here either; the author claims there are no spoilers, but if you’d rather avoid seeing any information about specific games before you play, you may still want to be cautious)
Octopus Overlords forum (brief, largely unspoilery reviews; no cut-tags)
Wintericecrystal’s Youtube reviews
N. B. Horvath (detailed comments are cut-tagged; overview of comp scores are not)
Jake Wildstrom (no cut tags)
Christos Dimitrakakis (no cut tags)
Ben Deane (no cut tags)
“Scatmania” (I confess to a little nervousness about the title of this blog, but it does contain reviews for “Violet” and “Grief” so far, and may eventually develop others. No cut tags.)
Auntie Pixelante (no cut-tags, review of Violet only so far)
Sam Kabo Ashwell
Something awful forum (comments on Nightfall and Violet mixed in with thread)
The Ebb and Flow of the Tide is another entry in what now turns out to be a series of fantasy adaptations by Peter Nepstad. Like Journey of the King, Tide is based on a story by Lord Dunsany, which means that it relies on rich, lyrical, intentionally archaic language.
I found Tide considerably more accessible, though: there are no long cut scenes or overwhelming passages of conversation, just a strange, dreamy environment which one must explore to make progress. It can take a little while to find the right trigger to move events onward, but there aren’t any puzzles otherwise. (If you find yourself stuck, try all your senses on everything around.)
Recently I tried Peter Nepstad’s new game, Journey of the King, which was nearly entered in the IF Competition. Like a couple of other games that did get finished in time for the competition, it’s an IF version of a short static story, in this case by Lord Dunsany.
In general, I haven’t been completely convinced that these translations of static fiction are successful: there are a lot of design challenges involved in transferring what was a straight story into something interactive, and I’m not satisfied than anyone has solved them yet. Journey of the King does not, I think, transcend this set of problems either. In fact, it starts out with a very uninteractive sequence of conversation in which the player has to question a series of visitors and read a great deal of straight text.
I gather that there are some puzzles that arise after this initial phase of the story, but I found the first conversation dumps a bit hard to get through, so quit. It doesn’t entirely help that the conversation here is very flowery and abstract.
I may come back to this piece later; we’ll see.