Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2016 Review: Sigil Reader (Field)

Posted by Reiko on November 18, 2016

This is a review of a game from the 2016 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

Sigil Reader (Field)
Author: verityvirtue
Format: Glulx

The tone is somewhat supernatural horror, but I wasn’t exactly clear on what caused the PC to do what he did (avoiding spoilers here). Walking around the station and trying to piece together who you are and what happened is reasonably interesting. It could be a rather atmospheric slow reveal, but instead it’s a sloppy presentation with a rushed ending.

The piece is presented in past tense, which is unusual for a parser game. That’s always tricky, though, because so many defaults have to be overridden. I saw a few gaps where present tense remained, including an entire section right at the end. That could have been deliberate, perhaps, but it’s still inconsistent. There was also an odd glitch in the conversation at the end where two paragraphs were repeated except for a slight difference.

Midway through, you find an alternate form of examining things that provides more specific information in a few cases, but I thought it was rather under-used. There were also a lot of missing synonyms and responses to objects that were mentioned that should have been visible. Objects would sometimes appear out of nowhere as a result of plot points. And dealing with the torchlight was more fiddly than it needed to be, given that a battery compartment wasn’t mentioned in the object description. “PUT BATTERY IN TORCHLIGHT” should have just worked without having to open and close the (invisible) compartment.

The ending then asks some vague questions and finally infodumps the reveal of what actually happened. That reveal could have been given in flashes as the PC gradually remembers small bits by finding objects and names, but while he does need to “remember” specific people, that’s primarily used for character description rather than plot.

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 7, -1 for conversation glitch, -1 for missing scenery descriptions and fiddly torchlight, -1 for infodump flashback ending
Score: 4


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