Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2015 Review: Gotomomi

Posted by Reiko on November 29, 2015

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

Gotomomi
Author: Arno von Borries
Format: Glulx

First impression: this author needs some more proofreading. In the opening paragraph, I saw “opportunely” (not really a proper word) and “shinjuku” (not capitalized). I’m pleased to see a game set in Japan, though. Even if it seems to be a fictional train station, it’s representative of Japanese stations. The Japanese words are all used correctly (and there are many of them, from greetings, to inventory items, to places). There are also greetings in Chinese (“nihao” is straightforward) and I think Vietnamese, which I’m not familiar with at all. It’s a surprisingly diverse area, actually. There’s even a Russian guy in one place, which makes me wonder how the 16-year-old Ayako identifies him as such. I assume he’s speaking Japanese since it isn’t mentioned, but I have no idea if there’s a distinguishable Russian accent.

The goal seems to be to make enough money to buy an open ticket on the shinkansen, which can be accomplished a number of ways. By the end, the reason almost doesn’t matter, but there’s a bit of exposition at the beginning about the PC running away from her family and her father’s hired goons. The process of acquiring the money mainly involves taking multiple short-term jobs in the area, some not so legal, and solving puzzles to complete those jobs.

Several items must also be bought and sold from merchants or even street people, most of whom will haggle to some extent. I apparently wasn’t very good at the haggling, though, because by the end, after I’d done all the jobs and sold back all the extra items, I was still 5000 yen short of the goal. Fortunately for me, there’s a serious bug that allowed me to receive my delivery service payment from Kei a second time, so I was able to see the ending. I would suggest a post-release that fixes this bug but also adds one more job opportunity so players can close the gap. Or maybe there was another job available and I just didn’t find it: I’d already done the fish-packing job, which wasn’t mentioned in the walkthrough, so there could have been something else.

The author made it a point to bold the exits, which helped a lot when retraversing the area, but that also made it a lot easier to overlook hidden exits. There were at least two places I missed early on because I didn’t know that there were enterable areas that weren’t in bold. It seemed that generally only cardinal directions were bolded. I did turn to the walkthrough less than halfway through because I couldn’t find anything else to do, since I hadn’t found the shops or the boat rental. One other oddity I noticed; at one point I had to go to “floor 104” of the mall, which seems rather inexplicably high. Japanese commercial buildings have on average several more floors than those in many other countries, but that’s rather excessive.

I got the impression that multiple endings were available, but I have no idea how I would go about achieving any other ending besides buying the train ticket, so I can’t bump the score up for that on this one. With a bit more polish, this piece could easily be one of the best this year.

Time: 1 hr 15 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for optional jobs, +1 for haggling, -1 for delivery payment bug
Score: 8

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