Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

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Archive for November 24th, 2015

IFComp 2015 Review: I Think The Waves Are Watching Me

Posted by Reiko on November 24, 2015

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

I Think The Waves Are Watching Me
Author: Bob McCabe
Format: Windows

Windows executables are always dubious, but this one seems interesting, if very strange. It’s not a parser game; the interaction is only a matter of entering letters or numbers corresponding to the desired option. The island the PC is on is about to be inundated with tidal waves. The goal seems to be to escape using some kind of “MacGuffins” (precisely what they’re called in-game) which can be gathered from locations or people around the island’s town. Plus there’s a strange killer on the loose that kills with red lightning.

I played through more than once and found that there were some different random encounters that can happen, and different riddles, and of course the killer has a different name and attributes each time, so there’s a lot of replayability. It also has a handful of optional secret interactions that can benefit the PC, only a few of which I found.

I discovered eventually that there are 100 people total on the island (including the PC, if I counted correctly), so it’s not only a survival horror story, but a murder mystery that can be solved with careful observation and logic. Very clever.

So it’s kind of like a board game, but it’s also kind of sandboxy, in that there are multiple paths to winning. You can hunt down the killer, but you don’t have to; you can just escape at the end. You can focus on gathering MacGuffins, or making people like you, or uncovering secrets. With a better interface, this one could be quite a gem.

Time: 2 hours+
Scoring: base 7, -1 for Windows interface, +1 for randomization and replayability, +1 for secrets and achievements
Score: 8

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IFComp 2015 Review: Cape

Posted by Reiko on November 24, 2015

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

Cape
Author: Bruno Dias
Format: Web – Umdum

This one is a well-written superhero origin story, presented in Umdum. I’m not really familiar with how Umdum works, but the seamless way that choices merge into the ongoing thread of the narrative is very slick. The one question I had at the end was whether nationality (offered as a choice) made any difference anywhere. I never saw it mentioned after the choice was made.

I also wondered if I had any ability to actually make a difference. Maybe that’s the point, as usually superheroes have high visibility (even if their personal identity is secret) and spend a lot of time defeating villains and saving the world. Here I mostly seemed to skulk on rooftops and watch things happen rather than actually doing things.

I played through a second time to see how the powers worked for a different cape choice out of the three available, and see if the story diverged at all. It didn’t seem to. There are minor differences based on which power you choose and how you choose to handle the various scenarios, but the overall story is the same. Still, the effect is nearly seamless, so as a work of variable fiction, this piece does very well. There is definitely interactivity here, but there’s very little agency.

Time: 1 hour
Scoring: base 7, +1 for seamless interactivity
Score: 8

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