Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: 5 Minutes To Burn Something!

Posted by Reiko on November 23, 2015

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

5 Minutes To Burn Something!
Author: Alex Butterfield
Format: Z-code

This one wants to be edgy, but it’s one of those depressing “my house” kinds of stories. The goal is to build a fire, but the reason is to avoid a fine for a false alarm (by creating a real fire) and eventually frame the deadbeat boyfriend for arson. This is rather despicable, really. The prose is descriptive, but has some “it’s/its” issues and such.

I also had some trouble with inconsistencies and guess the verb issues. For instance, “look in sink” tells me the sink is empty, but examining the sink tells me there’s a butter knife there. I’m told I need to force the dryer door, but even when I use the right implement, “force” and “pry” are not understood commands, and “open” just tries to take the whole door first. Turns out you have to open the dryer, not the door. Both should do the same thing. It’s not sensible to try taking the door when opening it. I had to go all the way to the walkthrough for that, because the in-game hint system only pointed to the right implement and didn’t specify the exact wording needed. The hints were much more helpful elsewhere in the game.

Aside from the basic failure result of not doing anything at the beginning, the game also had multiple endings depending on whether you succeed in starting a fire and then whether you partly or completely frame the boyfriend for it. I really can’t recommend the game overall due to the subject material, but the execution of it is relatively good.

Time: 1 hour
Scoring: base 7, +1 for in-game hints, +1 for multiple endings, -1 for guess the verb issues, -1 for depressing “my house” setting, -1 for grammar issues
Score: 6

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