Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2016 Review: 16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds

Posted by Reiko on November 25, 2016

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

16 Ways to Kill a Vampire at McDonalds
Author: Abigail Corfman
Format: Web – Twine

Now this is Twine interactive fiction done right. None of the fiddly guess the verb issues of parser IF, but the same kind of geographic inventory-based puzzles that you might find in most parser IF. (I guess I favor the interactive part more than the fiction part of IF.) It’s really one major puzzle (kill the vampire, of course), so each playthrough is fairly bite-sized. But there are a dozen different solutions, some with variations, some that can even intersect. My favorite scenario was rigging a bucket of holy water over the door and then driving the vampire out with running water from a jammed-up toilet. Splash! Wicked vampire of the west goes poof. Many items have multiple uses, too, particularly things like the paper towels or the holly wreath. There’s also a time-limit, and some actions can only be taken early on, and some can only be done later.

It’s a very polished piece, particularly in terms of puzzle solutions, which must have required a lot of testing. I wondered why driving the vampire out with running water counted as a separate solution when driving it out with scripture doesn’t (you have to seal the vampire into the building and kill it with scripture to make that solution count). That’s why I wanted to see if the extra twist of rigging the bucket of holy water would also work (the time limit was tighter for getting all that done). But throwing the holy water on the vampire directly (at the right time) is how I originally achieved the holy water ending, so you don’t need to be that clever with it. It’s a testament to the depth of the implementation that you can, though.

The writing is clever and amusing throughout. The PC’s defensiveness about smoking cigarettes and resignation about being vampire bait, the homeless woman’s prickliness if you offend her, the “adorable cashier” and the smarmy vampire: all the characters are well-realized. I did see a few typos: the text could have used one more proofreading, but only the “boddy-pinned up” bit was enough to annoy me because I kept seeing that every time I first looked at my hairdo in a playthrough.

Clearly someone’s done a lot of research about vampires. In the “Unlockables” section at the end (which indicates there are even *more* than 16 endings once you’ve completed enough of them), there’s a link to display nearly every known historical belief about vampires, including what they do, how to kill them, etc. Plus references for further reading.

Time: 30 min (2 hours+ to find all endings)
Scoring: base 7, +1 for multiple endings (at least 16), +1 for depth of implementation, +1 for realistic characters, -1 for typos
Score: 9

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