IF Comp 2014: Ugly Oafs

uglyoafsUgly Oafs (Perry Creel) is a wordplay-puzzle parser game. I didn’t finish it.

>X DOLLS

Not very human like. It’s like an engineer designed them.

This is a game which stakes everything on its puzzles. There is a micron-thin fictional veneer, phrased in the language of crossword clues: I won’t even say ‘surreal’, because even ‘surreal’ implies some interest in the content rather than the form of things. ‘Abstract’ is more like it. This game is basically made for an audience of people who seek out abstract puzzles for fun, and that ain’t me.

Generally I feel it’s impolite to speculate on pseudonyms, but in cases this obvious I’ll make an exception. As with previous works by this author, about half of the puzzle is figuring out what the basic premise of the puzzle is. You’re either going to get it, or not; I systematically gathered up a bunch of clues, but never made the leap to ‘it’s rot(N).’ The walkthrough tries to clue you in – but the walkthrough is written in the same oblique, crossword-clue language as the in-game information, so it’s not enormously helpful.

Part of the problem here was that there was very little else to hold my interest while I was doing the mechanical task of collecting information, so I never got very engaged. The game-world and plot make no sense whatsoever on any terms other than those of the puzzle; the PC’s a middle-school AFGNCAAP; writing is kept to a minimum necessary to deliver puzzle information, except for some odd asides which might be jokes or might be crossword-clue language. If I’m going to keep working at a puzzle despite being stuck, I need some motivation. The prospect of solving the puzzle for its own sake is not sufficient.

Once the rot(n) mechanic is established, the next step is to go through all the objects and see if they rotate to anything reasonable. This is a tedious, mechanical process; the simplest thing is to find an online tool to check through all the possibilities. (Compare this to word-hunting in Counterfeit Monkey: you could automate all the steps of letter-removal, for instance, but it’s more fun to do it yourself, because it’s not laborious to check any given possibility.)

After that, you’re left with some objects which combine, in a more orthodox-IF style, into something that’ll help you solve a puzzle, and then… I think there’s a second stage to the game, but by this point I had lost the will to continue.

It’s not enormously robust. ABOUT and CREDITS are mentioned, but get a ‘There’s no need for elaborate words in this game’ error (although ABOUT works some of the time, somehow.) ATTACH CHAIN TO SLED gave me the response ‘Those aren’t available.’ I wasn’t able to turn the tiger back into a pecan, and I couldn’t tell why not.

Summary: some people are likely to enjoy this, and it seems reasonably well put-together for the things it’s aiming at, but it does nothing whatsoever for me.

 

 Score: 4

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This entry was posted in interactive fiction, parser-based, review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to IF Comp 2014: Ugly Oafs

  1. Pingback: IF Comp 2014: Ugly Oafs (Perry Creel) | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  2. I couldn’t turn it back into a pecan either, which didn’t make sense to me, and that was the point at which I stopped.

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