IF Comp 2019: Eye Contact

eyecontactEye Contact (Thomas McMullan, Twine) is a short conversational game. The conversation is accompanied with photographs of the principal NPC, cropped to just the eyes. Continue reading

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IF Comp 2019: Fat Fair

fatfair.jpgFat Fair (AKheon, Glulx). I’m going to quote from the ABOUT text:

The character of Borsch was adapted from some crude comics me and friends drew back in high school. So, if you were wondering about the humor being slightly juvenile or irreverent, that might be the explanation – it’s all very 90’s.
My main goal with this project was to simply bring this eccentric character from my youth back to life. Besides that, I like flexible and interesting mechanics in games, and that’s also something I tried to evoke in Fat Fair – to create a small sandbox where there’s potential for many surprising interactions.

Here’s the deal with Borsch: he’s ludicrously, grotesquely fat, gluttonous, brutish and stupid. That’s the whole joke. Continue reading

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IF Comp 2019: Randomized escape

escapeRandomized escape (Yvan Uhlmann, I7) is a procedurally generated survival horror game; an amnesiac protagonist explores an abandoned city and is menaced by creepy things. Continue reading

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IF Comp 2019: Heretic’s Hope

hereticsHeretic’s Hope (Grim Baccaris, Twine) is a dark / weird fantasy story. The protagonist is a lone human in the court of an isolated insectoid culture ruled by a sinister queen: their mother has recently died and they have been appointed to the prominent but intensely perilous role of Pontiff. It’s a piece about mourning and about being a threatened outsider.

This is a very polished piece: the writing is at a professional level, and a very thorough job has been done with presentation. But it didn’t really click with me, and I’m trying to figure out why. I could appreciate a lot of the things it was doing, but I never got to feeling enthusiastic about it.

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IF Comp 2019: Chuk and the Arena

chuk.pngChuk and the Arena (Agnieszka Trzaska, Twine) is a puzzly choice-based SF game. Chuk is a member of a diminutive species, the Gyffids, whose moon has been stolen by a galaxy-spanning empire-corporation. The bad guys are also throwing an arena tournament, and Chuk – with entirely more optimism than is warranted – hopes that winning the tournament will be a way to get the moon back.

It’s very much an adventure game in format – if anything, it reminded me of the classic point-and-click era, what with its populated world full of cartoonish oddball characters, underdog protagonist and focus on combining items. It’s very good at signalling its structure and giving players a sense of what sort of direction the puzzles are going; that said, it’s a good-sized game and I didn’t make it to the end – in part, probably, because I always had a sense that I could figure these puzzles out, so I didn’t go into walkthrough mode much.

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IF Comp 2019: Skybreak!

skybreakSkybreak! (William Dooling, ADRIFT) is a CRPG-ish science-fantasy space adventure. As a wandering adventurer, you will fly to dozens of systems and spend only a little time on each before moving on.

There’s actually quite a few examples of this sort of thing in the general IF space: Voyageur, Out There, Superluminal Vagrant Twin, Sunless SkiesSkybreak particularly reminded me of Voyageur in that they both have random navigation: in Voyageur your drive can only take you towards the galactic core, but you have slight influence over your route. In Skybreak you can’t steer at all, but you can revisit places, and you can only take one action each time you land. (Sometimes that action leads to further choices, but you’re always on a brief visit.) Continue reading

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IF Comp 2019: Pirateship

pirateshipPirateship (Robin Johnson, Versificator) is an old-school adventure in shiny new pants, featuring a light-hearted pirate treasure-hunt on a tropical island.

This is the first time I’ve played something in Robin Johnson’s Versificator system, although I’ve been aware of its general deal. Other people have written plenty about it already, but my general impression: it aims to evoke the general feel of a classic parser adventure game’s structure (map, inventory, puzzles, topic-based conversation) while removing the expressive element of it to get rid of guess-the-verb, reduce the implementation load on the author, and speed up play. It’s not a surprising design, and it sacrifices some of the things I love about parser, but it works very well for this particular kind of game.

The custom visual presentation of all this is nice and clear. I wouldn’t call it pretty, but all of the text choices are a good nod to theme without sacrificing legibility, and the organisation of the areas of the screen makes for an easily comprehensible UI. It’s a very intuitive system. Continue reading

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