Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Summit

Posted by Reiko on November 19, 2015

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

Summit
Author: Phantom Williams
Format: Web – Twine

The blurb sums this one up rather well, for once: “A dream-like journey through a drifting life.” That’s about right. The PC has a vague goal to get to “the summit” but never does get there, drifting from one place to another in search of it. The people in the story are also vaguely not-human, symbiotically eating tiny fish from within themselves which pleasurably eat their insides a tiny bit at a time. This sounds very much like a metaphor for drug addiction or something. Everyone seems to die either from “fishrot” (where the internal damage becomes too great) or from “fish poison” (where the fish and their secretions build up inside). At the beginning, three different lives are available to choose from, which is a neat way to offer variety in backstories for an unspecified PC.

The premise was interesting, but the Twine execution, in an attempt to set a drifting pace, was horribly plodding, often requiring two or even more clicks on symbols to get to the next phrase (not phase, but literally just the next word or sentence) of the story. I would have much preferred the piece to condense the text into paragraphs and deliver a whole paragraph at a time.

Also, the second time I played through, during the tower section with the artistic computer bit, the page started scrolling up and down rhythmically, presumably to demonstrate the motion that the text was talking about (I didn’t even know that was possible in Twine), but it wouldn’t stop! Once I managed to click on the next link, but the next page did it too, and it was literally impossible for me to click on the tiny symbol that was the next link while the page was moving up and down like that. I don’t know why it didn’t do that the first time I played it, but that made me give up on an attempt to find a different ending. I’m going to have to drop the score for that one.

Time: 45 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for multiple endings and beginnings, -1 for redundant clicking, -1 for autoscrolling pages
Score: 6

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