Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp Review: Blood on the Heather / Who Among Us

Posted by Reiko on November 1, 2013

This is a review of games from the 2013 Interactive Fiction Competition. (Posted in 2014 and backdated.) Scoring criteria can be found here.

Author: T. Orisney

Format: Web

Blood on the Heather

Blood-soaked story about vampires. The main characters are shallow and greedy, so it’s not really that much fun to read unless you’re into that kind of horror. It doesn’t make use of the best features of web-based formats either: it’s literally just a choose your own adventure type story with labeled sections in a hyperlinked format that appear when they’re selected. It can’t be considered buggy since there’s no programming, but the text could have used some more editing and proofreading. I reached two death scenes and two major endings, with at least one other major ending possible.

Score: 5 (originally 4)
Scoring: base 7, +1 for detailed plot and multiple different outcomes, -1 for typos and lack of proofreading, -1 for shallow characters, -1 for lack of interaction other than CYOA, -1 for gratuitous blood

Who Among Us

Same author as the blood-soaked vampire story, but this one is more of a conventional twine-looking story, with the screen displaying only one shorter bit at a time rather than the whole story. The prose feels like it’s been written even faster than the other one, with numerous typos, awkward phrasings, wrong homonyms, spliced sentences, etc. For example: a bloody crime scene is “grisly”. “Grizzly” is a type of bear.

Most sections are written as one long paragraph even though it may contain several conversational exchanges, so it’s visually difficult to read. There’s also an odd convention of capitalizing a lot of the character occupations, like “Policeman” and even “Wife” and “Blonde”, as if these are substitute names for the characters, even after their actual names are revealed later.

The story itself is, as the blurb indicates, somewhat inspired by an Agatha Christie story in which one of a group of people is killing the rest one by one, and no one’s sure who to suspect. It’s not very interactive though; most of the links are essentially just continuations, with very few choices, and hardly any of those feel meaningful. The writing is so sloppy that it’s really hard to keep track of what’s going on, even though you’re supposed to try to keep track, because there’s a quiz at the end. No, really, the “final choice” is to choose who to shoot as the killer. That’s really the only meaningful choice, because it determines the ending.

Score: 3
Scoring: base 7, -1 for nearly unreadable prose visually, -1 for typos, lack of editing, wrong homonyms, -1 for confusing story, -1 for single choice point


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