Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Arcane Intern

Posted by Reiko on November 27, 2015

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

Arcane Intern (Unpaid)
Author: Astrid Dalmady
Format: Web – Twine

YAOJ. Yet Another Office Job. At least this one has magic to make it more interesting, but the whole point of it is the juxtaposition between horribly boring office work vs the exciting work of learning magic. Get coffee. Check. (From an otherworldly cafe run by a dragon, but still.) Retrieve items from a warehouse. Check. (An otherworldy warehouse full of strange objects…) Make copies. Check. (And suffer strange effects from the sigils interacting with the copier.) For all that they involve magic, these tasks are nearly as mundane as they normally would be. The most interesting bit is spending an evening after work trying out charms, but this is summarized quickly.

Twisting the office job trope by adding magic isn’t a bad concept, but it really requires better execution, and the prose here is just not up to the job. Also, particularly in the warehouse, there was a fair bit of back and forth before I discovered which specific place I had to be to find the right option to move forward. There are multiple places where you have to click through other nodes first and then return to an earlier place before a new option will appear, which is rather awkward.

There’s potential here for an interesting story, or maybe commentary on treatment of interns, but it never quite comes together. According to the endnotes, there are multiple endings, but I didn’t bother replaying to try to find them. I would have liked to keep the knowledge of the magic instead of being forced to give it up, but I didn’t see a way to do that (although given the multiple endings, I’m sure there was a way somewhere).

Time: 30 min
Score: base 7, +1 for multiple endings, -1 for awkward interactions, -1 for office job trope
Score: 6

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