Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Pilgrimage

Posted by Reiko on November 16, 2015

This is a review of a game from the 2015 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Author: Victor Ojuel
Format: Glulx

This is oddly evocative while simultaneously a bit rough. It’s a journey on a macro scale: taking a step may send you halfway across a continent. The prose is often beautifully descriptive, but occasionally sounds like the writer isn’t fluent in English, as there are numerous little grammatical errors and a few odd turns of phrase. The journey is told in a series of short vignettes set in different places.

The early puzzles are very reasonable, but eventually they just aren’t well-cued and I turned to the walkthrough for the second half of the game. Exits to the next area are rarely given, and while mostly the journey goes forward, there are a few places where you have to return to the previous area, which isn’t well-cued either. By the end, I can tell I never would have thought to do some of the required actions.

I think this may have made a rather good short story (at one point you even retell some of your adventures to the sultan, who immensely enjoys hearing the tale) but as interactive fiction it just doesn’t have enough agency. Either you follow the railroaded plot to get to the ending (which takes a rather odd metaphysical turn), or you go home early and fail. There’s unfortunately not much opportunity to explore the medieval cultures you’re journeying through. I wanted to like it more than I did.

Time: 50 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for evocative journey, -1 for grammar/wording issues, -1 for unclued exits and railroaded plot
Score: 6


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