Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2016 Review: The Shoe Dept.

Posted by Reiko on November 19, 2016

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

The Shoe Dept.
Author: Aquanet
Format: Web – Twine

You play a teen starting his first retail job at a shoe store. Little does he know that he’s about to uncover a conspiracy to enslave the public using…shoes. More specifically, engineered shoes that change color to match the user’s outfit, clamp onto the user’s feet automatically, and, worst of all, can be used to control the user’s actions and even speech. It’s actually less horrifying than it should be because the PC seems to be kind of resistant to it, or maybe all the bugs aren’t worked out of the system yet.

There’s a bit of a scene at one point with a rogue shoe that’s meant to be kind of horrifying in the “eek there’s a mouse!” kind of way, but it’s really rather bland. Escaping the clutches of the shoe testers was the most fun, although it seemed kind of implausible that they kept leaving me alone to wander around and find a way out.

The ending is happy in the sense that the company gets shut down as a result of the exposure of shoe samples, but the PC still has to find another job, which isn’t going to be easy since his track record at the first is so bad. Maybe he can just leave that off his resume.

While this appeared to be a Twine game, it implemented a basic inventory with items that could be used in specific places and would give a brief description of the item if selected elsewhere. So the gameplay was more puzzle-based than most Twine games.

There were a few places where you had the option to wait and listen to bits of conversations, and a few places where you could do nothing but wait. Another section simulated speech control, where you could construct amusing alternatives to the sentence they wanted you to say, but to move forward, you had to construct the “right” sentence, so saying anything else was futile. Escaping with the samples was the only way to do anything useful. Overall, the story wasn’t very compelling.

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for inventory puzzles, -1 for mind control conspiracy trope, -1 for futile opposition to the speech control, -1 for too much waiting around
Score: 5

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