Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: To Burn in Memory

Posted by Reiko on November 25, 2015

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

To Burn in Memory
Author: Orihaus
Format: Web (offline)

This is slick. It’s a web-based piece, but isn’t available for playing directly online, for some reason. The presentation and interaction feel like they could be from Umdum, but there’s nothing obvious at the beginning that indicates the platform, so it’s possible the author made a custom javascript interface for this piece. The writing is hauntingly picturesque, describing an abandoned and partly ruined city that was once vibrant and still is beautiful. Interspersed with this are various quotes of memories which offer the option to activate them, but nothing ever happens when I try.

I wandered around the tower and the plaza below it for some time, and while I found a few intriguing things, including a single unburned page with a rose diagram, at least one key I never used, and a combination safe, I couldn’t find the orchards mentioned in the intro, and I couldn’t make anything happen. I never found a combination for unlocking the safe. I revisited everywhere I could find at least once, but I probably missed one option somewhere (it’s sometimes hard to tell which option is the way to return to the previous location), and without any help available, I don’t think I’m going to get unstuck any time soon.

Part of the problem is that while the prose is beautiful, it’s also rather opaque and overwritten, so it’s really hard to keep track of the practical details of where you are and what relates to what. I feel like this would have been better as an Art Show entry or something rather than buried in the regular IF Comp.

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 4, +1 for beautiful prose, +1 for elegant interface, +1 for memories of locations, -1 for lack of hints or walkthrough
Score: 6

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