IF Comp 2017: My night

mynightMy night (Ivsaez) is a horror game about Spanish teenagers. Five kids are having a party in a family home, and mess around with a ouija board; then the lights go out, the protagonist starts walking around the darkened house alone in classic slasher-victim style, and the murders begin.

The parser seems to be home-brewed. This is rarely a good idea, and this is no exception: it rejects a lot of commands with unhelpful responses, and especially at the outset I found it pretty much impossible to play without following the walkthrough. (I suspect the walkthrough only gets you to the least good completion ending, but I have no way to be sure about this.)

Warning: there’s at least one rape scene, which I’m going to discuss later.

The game’s opening could use some work, first off. It opens with a wall-of-text dialogue scene in which you don’t really know who the protagonist is or what these people’s relationships to one another are. It has the virtue of starting the game right as the real action begins, and we get some idea about some of their personalities – but it could have done this much, much more efficiently.

The English is pretty rough. Most glaringly, it consistently gets the gender of pronouns and possessives wrong; I guess the Spanish su is genderless, but that doesn’t cover all of this:

She is a girl who can be considered tall. It has a beautiful red hair, long and curly. His skin is very clear and full of freckles. It is somewhat thin, which makes it appear that his head is too large, which has earned him numerous mockery of classmates. His face is one of terror. She has been scared with the blackout, no doubt.

Most of the time I could get the general sense of things; it makes reading a little more slow and awkward, rather than making it unclear what’s going on, and it rules out any hope of the prose being a plus. I’m not sure if this is a second-language original or a translation; either way, it feels as though the style it’s aiming for is fairly utilitarian.

The first puzzle to deal with that blackout is to use your phone as a light source – and, I dunno, I don’t remember late-90s/early-00s phones being much use for that.

The house is completely dark because the fuse of the light box has been blown. Although it gives you a mortal laziness you have no choice but to go to the garage and change the fuse for a new one.

It is entirely accurate that this gives me a mortal laziness.

The game is broken in ways that go beyond the parser and the use of language – though those cover plenty. At one point I encountered two of the other kids having sex, but when I examined them, the descriptions were of their dead bodies with messages suggesting I had killed them – clearly something I wasn’t meant to see until considerably later, given that they appear, alive, later on. So I found myself in a position where I didn’t really trust the parser or the world-model; and this pretty much eliminated any sense of dramatic tension.

There’s also a scene in which a character gets raped to death by a ghost. (The first death that the protagonist can undergo is also pretty rapey, albeit less explicitly.) It’s pretty gratuitous. It seems like there’s possibly a psychological-horror element, so it’s not clear whether ghost rape actually happens, but for warning purposes that shouldn’t matter. The game’s Comp blurb includes an 18+ age rating (the game itself does not), but this is a good example of why age ratings are a terrible approach to content warnings. Saying 18+ doesn’t really distinguish between ‘consensual sex scene’ and ‘raped to death’ – and, OK, there are lots of other reasons why an age-based system is terrible and why specific content warnings are a good idea, but I feel that stands up on its own.

I dunno. Very weak parser, exploity horror, fairly weak translation, bugs. On the merits this is probably a 2, but I’m going to knock a point off for unwarned gratuitous rape scene.

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