Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

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IFComp 2016 Review: Slicker City

Posted by Reiko on November 28, 2016

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

Slicker City
Author: Andrew Schultz
Format: Z-code

I couldn’t get into this one very well. I played the preceding game, Problems Compound, and thought it required a lot of authorial mind-reading to solve the zany puzzles. This one is very much in the same vein, down to the same pun pattern of reversing the words of phrases. I happened to have just read a Xanth book, so now the pun style really reminds me of Xanth, with random abstract phrases being made literal objects.

The puzzles are meaningless enough that the game has to be pretty explicit about what the next step is, because otherwise you’d never guess. I got a little stuck once the game opened up, since I didn’t connect a hint from one room to the solution in another room, but I checked the walkthrough and was then able to make more progress on my own. There’s also a lot of pointless content, where repeatedly looking at something will return a different related response, but none of the responses are very useful or even interesting.

The verbs list mentioned an “explain” command that could be used on some of the backwards phrases to explain their significance. That’s useful if you can’t parse some of the puns and such, but I tried it on some of the room names (which were usually also backwards puns) and only got a run-time error complaining about a missing column in the table of room names.

After you win the first time, the game offers a lot of extra content, including some “amusing” suggestions, a list of missed locations (one location offers three different items, only one of which can be used in each playthrough, and each one gives access to one particular location, so the other two are always missed), and a list of pun explanations. If I’d liked the game better, I might have been interested in replaying to explore this content, but it really wasn’t interesting enough for that. The author obviously put a lot of thought into it, but I guess it’s just not my thing.

Time: 30 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for lots of optional responses, -1 for run-time error, -1 for mind-reading puzzles
Score: 6


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