Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Kane County

Posted by Reiko on November 26, 2015

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

Kane County
Author: Michael Sterling, Tia Orisney
Format: Web

After two minutes, it’s clear that this one needs some more proofreading. “You tap on the break”… “you doesn’t have to”… etc. I was actually worried that this one was going to be a CYOA bloodbath of horror like some of the past entries from Tia Orisney, but this looks like a survival story, with some stat tracking of water and stamina, plus a class specialization.

Actually, the text past the intro isn’t too bad (shouldn’t the intro be the most well-checked, though?), and the survival aspects are intense enough that I didn’t pay that much attention to the grammar later on. The balance of resources is finely tuned, enough that I played three times, dying the first two times, and only survived by reading all the guides about where there were items and what to prioritize when camping. It’s very realistic about the dangers of strange water and the scarcity of available food.

I didn’t replay again after winning, but apparently there’s a whole alternate branch that leads to a second, harder endgame scenario that requires different resources. The river branch requires boat parts, but the farmhouse branch would require avoiding the boat parts in favor of other items in order to win. It’s an interesting strategy, but I think it’s not very realistic because it practically requires prior knowledge in order to win. While the game places items in sensible locations, it’s not at all easy to predict what item will be where the first time through. This may well be an example of accretive style gameplay, where the player must learn, through multiple playthroughs, enough information to guide the PC through to a successful conclusion of the scenario.

Time: 45 min
Score: base 7, +1 for resource balance, +1 for intense survival situations, -1 for grammar/spelling
Score: 8


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