Ratings & Reviews of the 2008 Interactive Fiction Competition

The Ratings

Game Technical Puzzles Story Overall
Game T P S
Magic 10 9 10 10
Nightfall 9 10 10 10
Violet 10 9 10 10
Afflicted 9 9 10 9
Escape from the Underworld 8 9 10 9
April in Paris 7 10 9 9
Piracy 2.0 7 8 9 8
A Date With Death 7 9 7 8
Ananachronist 6 9 8 8
The Lucubrator 7 8 8 8
Berrost’s Challenge 6 9 7 7
Snack Time! 8 6 6 7
Recess At Last 6 8 6 7
Cry Wolf 8 6 6 7
Channel Surfing 6 6 7 6
Everybody Dies 6 4 8 6
Opening Night 6 5 2 4
Grief 6 2 5 4
The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom 4 6 2 4
When Machines Attack 1 6 3 3
Riverside 3 2 4 3
Dracula’s Underground Crypt 2 3 3 3
Red Moon 5 1 2 3
Trein 2 2 4 3
Buried In Shoes 3 2 3 3
Nerd Quest 3 3 2 3
The Absolute Worst IF Game in History 2 2 2 2
A Martian Odyssey 3 1 2 2
Freedom 3 1 1 2
The Lighthouse 2 1 1 1
LAIR of the CyberCow        

Dracula’s Underground Crypt

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 3
Story: 3

First off: never, ever, promise to update your game. It guarantees a hard disk crash which will obliterate your source code. I reverse-engineered the sources for The Best Man but never got around to fixing the less egregious errors.

A couple of typos right off the bat: rooms design needs an apostrophe; there is no space after the final period of the first sentence. Little things like this tend to annoy me, and annoying me is the fastest way to get me to quit early.

Too many ellipses…

This is just a general bitching about Inform and the behavior of splitting the action of read versus examine. If something is read-able then it should have a distinguished boiler-plate examine response, not:

Examine note.

You see nothing noteworthy about the note.

Read note.

“Get up, you bum!”

If a desk has a drawer that is a distinct object in its own right, the desk should forward all messages it does not understand to the drawer: open, close, unlock, &c.

Never ever give the protagonist a name, and try to avoid giving him or her an explicit gender unless there is some sort of romance involved and you are uncomfortable with alternative sexualities.

You can also see a large oak door, a slab of granite, a fireplace and a four-armed suit of armour here.

Examine slab.

Good idea, but... the thing is... you have to find it first.

Didn’t Eddie Izzard do the whole bit about improvised crucifixes?

Dangerous waters:

Read Torah.

Read it. Overall you thought the narrative structure was somewhat weaker than that of the Christian Bible, but it was at least more PC than the Koran. For sheer thrills, however, you still can’t beat a good bit of L. Ron.

Grrr… I hate hate hate bang-you’re-Dead puzzles. Stupid book. There was no warning, no warning at all.

On replay I found the clue, but it still borders on the unfair.

Hm, reading the diary puts all subsequent text into italics. Not a major error, but still an error nevertheless.

The text of the note keeps changing; it is either a randomized clue or a red herring.

Ah, the granite slab visible-but-not-visible is a bug.

Contextual error: a timer mentions that the mantelpiece is shaken by an earthquake when it is not in scope.

OK, is that it? No, I must have missed something… anything.

Reanimated Eva, who is non-animate. That is, you cannot kiss her.

Way too many bugs to make this game enjoyable; plus, it was incredibly short and lacked a strong conclusion. The walkthru was unhelpful. Only one puzzle of serious note. Somewhat sub-par competition fare.

The Ngah Angah School of Forbidden Wisdom

Technical: 4
Puzzles: 6
Story: 2

What we have here, right off the bat, is three puzzles with the most clichéd of plots: the mystic challenge. While this may have worked for greats like Raymond Smullyan or Cliff Johnson, for an interactive fiction (hint, the key word is fiction) competition it is a bit hackneyed.

It looks like it’s all being done in the name of love; well, love as defined by a fleeting emotional state that stays all reasonable thought.

OK, there’s not enough time to really accomplish anything in the butterfly room, and the description is nonexistent. I think I have an idea about the torches, but it is turning out to be a hunt-the-verb puzzle. I forgot how unforgiving the Alan parser is. (After all, “Alan” spelled sideways is “Anal.”)

Plurality trouble (and yes, I’m getting desperate):

Eat butterflies.

You can’t eat a butterflies!

There seems to be only one possible solution to the butterfly problem, and since it is currently insurmountable this is severely limiting my movement through the game. The lack of hints or a walkthru is equally problematic. I have no idea of the size of the game, since I have been stuck in the second room for almost an hour: it is possible that the game only consists of three rooms, in which case this is an exceptionally linear “plot,” if you can call it that. Most of the room appears to be poorly modeled, not everything in the room description is accessible or even acknowledged. Since the torches are the only things responding to actions without falling through to a boilerplate, I figure they are key to the puzzle. Well, if I haven’t solved the butterflies in the next half-hour, I’m giving up.

There appears to be a non-exit in the second room: there is a curtain to the north, but that exit is not there.

Cheated by disassembly. The magic word is hold for those desperate enough to try this abortion. Actually, the magic word is synonyms, but I doubt that will be heeded.

In short, three puzzles — poorly implemented — in search of a plot; and yes, my feeling of this being a Smullyan-esque homage was not incorrect (or it was accidental on the part of the author). In the past I have blamed the Alan parser for the poor quality of games, but now I wonder: does the parser have such a low cost barrier that it allows game creation with only the most trivial amount of thought? If so, then Inform 7 might result in the same problem for this and future competitions. Not a happy thought. Let’s move on, shall we?

Everybody Dies

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 4
Story: 8

The only time the phrase “Everybody Dies” was used in anything remotely of quality was when Ard said it in the “Den” segment of Heavy Metal: “You die, she dies, everybody dies.” I doubt this will end up being a vaguely homoerotic fantasy/comedy voiced by John Candy, but we may get lucky.

Well, it starts out a bit crude. Sometimes I think the games should not be sorted by interpreter, but by content.

Oh joy, it’s multimedia. Damn, now I’m worried about the inevitable Santoonie entry that I’ll have to slog through.

Examine me gave me a name. Grrr… Actually, I’m willing to let this one go by: this character is reprehensible so I’d rather not be in his place. People like this give Metal a bad name; unfortunately, they tend to make up the majority of the audience.

OK, here we go onto the rails:


There is no action here. Only waiting.

Oh joy. I’m going to go through all of the people in this discount store, right? This feels like an existential comic book. Oh wait, it is.

Yep, another death. And we’re still on rails. The pseudo-intellectual crowd that was having orgasms over Rameses back in the day is going to love this, because it is so edgy. Sorry, I don’t buy it. There is a place for storytelling, when you want to control the characters, dictate their lives, play God: it is called a novel. It is not here.

Oh, I get it. The whole beginning was an extended prologue: here are the puzzles. Fight destiny. Change the future. I’m going to get a cup of coffee and when I come back, my bile should have subsided.

Ahhh, caffeine. Thou art a nectar from the gods. Flush the jaundice from my soul, allow me to give the authors a second chance.

OK, as I said: prologue. I know what will happen, so now I have to prevent it from happening. I’m being guided by the victims-to-be, and they’re going to change some things so that the psychopath won’t go on his rampage, and the stoner won’t die from stupidity. Hence the rails: I had to know what would be the consequences of my unguided actions. Not a bad method of introducing motivation; in fact, almost original. (Almost; cf. Spider and Web or better yet, Möbius.)

Oh, come on. It was even in the original Zork:

Count carts.

That’s not a verb I recognise.

OK, there was one puzzle, and I solved it rather easily. Otherwise, story on rails. The concept was clever, but the story needed a couple more puzzles to keep me happy. No major technical flaws, but since I hate multimedia, penalty. (I never said my scoring system was fair.) My score will be unusual, I expect: the IF literati will have kittens over this one.

Postscript: Nailed it: took third place. The majority of published reviews quoted the “strong storyline” as being the reason that they scored it so highly.

LAIR of the CyberCow

Technical: -
Puzzles: -
Story: -

Skipped because it warned me of an incompatibility with my Adrift interpreter. (I’ll live.)

The Lighthouse

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 1
Story: 1

Nice opening blurb as a concept; poor in execution. Second person is important in IF to maintain immersion, but sentence variation is almost equally important: You walk; You were; Thoughts flood into your head; and you begin to notice all have the same structure. Normally I would avoid passive voice like the plague, but in this case the actor should be made implicit as the object of the sentence is more important. I won’t even touch it’s; I’ll leave that to Grammar Girl.

Hm, after the prologue I was expecting a better room description than You are now in the Foyer. A bit of a letdown, actually. Also, the spurious capitalized Foyer and Front door are discouraging.

Dollars-to-donuts that the iron door at the outset of the game is the last puzzle to be solved. Any takers?

I wonder if Inform 7 really is up to the task? It seems that a lot of Inform 7 games lack the important details of indefinite articles, proper listing, &c.

This game seems to be populated with lots of static objects which really should have been scenery.

My bad, just found a key. Seeing that this is the only key I could possibly find…

Friggin’ keys — what is this, a Scott Adams adventure?

OK, like what the hell? Five minutes (excluding writing snarky comments) from start to finish. This has got to be a joke: three rooms, two doors. No story, no puzzles, no challenge.


Technical: 3
Puzzles: 2
Story: 4

I’ve been to Riverside. It only feels like you’re there forever.

Nice teaser, established a mood quite well; except it gave me a name. I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, but giving the PC a name still feels like a crutch.

Game is taking on a religious (or more succinctly, spiritual) tone. I hope not…

The license plate is not randomized. Darn, would have given points for that…

Whuh. Broken mimesis there: technical information about game play should be displayed at the outset.

Synonym and preposition problems: Put album on shelf doesn’t work, but put album in bookshelf does. Minor grammar quibble there.

An open closet door should allow the player to close it.

Gah, forced linear conversation: the bane of all NPC implementations. No points off here; I’m just glad it isn’t menu-driven.

Hunt the verb puzzle: consult album about ... does not work.

Walkthru suggests differently. Trying to read the album earlier may have put the game into an unwinnable state. Following walkthru verbatim.

Nope, no go.

OK, the walkthru is broken. That’s a serious problem right there. Playing hunt-the-verb turned up read as the key verb, but only if you are holding the photo album.

Well, the advantage of stories-on-rails is that I don’t have to do any of that nasty thinking. The problem with stories-on-rails is that I don’t have to do any thinking at all.

OK, I repeat again: What the hell? Is this stupid game month as part of the IF, or is it just a conspiracy of the randomizer to give me all of the crappy games earlier? If this turns out to be the latest pathetic Prince-of-Bel-Air-rickroll-teh-LOL-Internet-meme somebody is going to die, slowly and painfully.

Escape from the Underworld

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 9
Story: 10

Way to piss me off right from the start: not only do you give me a name, but you tell me that I’m playing “a part.” I could understand a kooky aside to break the fourth wall for comedic reasons (like in Gary Shandling’s Show), but I believe the author is serious about this introduction. It does not bode well…

I really really wish the author had taken a little more care with the introduction, because the staff room description displays excellent writing skill. Burning flesh and coffee granules indeed. Motivational posters are horrifyingly familiar to anyone who has been a wage slave. Right. I’m going to pretend that the introduction never existed.

I definitely want to pretend the intro did not exist:

This is quite literally Hell’s Kitchen, and it’s not very tastefully decorated to be honest. Everything is industrial-looking bare grey metal. A stove sits against one wall beside a sink, and a large storage cupboard is opposite them. Another damned poster is stuck to the wall by the door to the east.

Examine poster.

It reads:

Remember! Every minute spent snacking is a minute lost torturing the souls of the damned. So eat hastily!

Thanks, Keith.

Huh, looks like a classic fulfill-tasks-make-friends style of game.

Pity: the author missed a perfect opportunity for a “who moved my cheese” joke.

Gah, hunt the verb. I have the tool, I know what I want to use the tool on, but I don’t know the right verb. Remove, Pry, and even use do not work.

Turns out to be a syntax problem: unscrew foo did not work, but unscrew foo with baz did. Unfortunately, the boilerplate response made it sound like the verb was incorrect.

This is good, this is real good. Washing the nasty taste of the last two games right out of my mouth.

I think the soul extractor is a red herring…


A big bright red Coca-Cola machine. It might look a bit out of place in the Underworld, but we have standards here... and the Coca-Cola company falls well below them.

Ouch. Almost there, but then I encountered the very deadly verb use. If it were me, I may have forced the player to dial each individual digit; but then I’m an ass that way.

Very good, very good indeed. Fun story, logical puzzles, good atmosphere. Descriptions were complete and objects were well-designed. Had to bump down the technical score because of the grammar problems (that are easily fixed). I was worried because of the structure of the introduction (and I still think it is unnecessary; the PC did not need a name), but the atmosphere and the puzzles quickly made up for it. Had to hit the walkthru at the end because I was running out of time, but I was very close to solving it on my own.

Huh, the intro was in fact the author string. Curious approach, not how I would do it. There are easier ways, ones which make version less of an infodump.

The Absolute Worst IF Game in History

Technical: 2
Puzzles: 2
Story: 2

Worst? Those are high goalposts to set, and already the author has flubbed it: for the game has started and the PC does not have a name, a gender, or a physical description; there are no blatant grammatical errors (floccinaucinihilipilification is a real word and it is correctly spelled); the game is not yet another installment of PTBAD; “Santoonie” does not appear anywhere in the opening page and is not accompanied by a ludicrous pseudo-legal disclaimer; it is not Detective; and the emo alarm is not blaring. In short: Fail.

OK, I die randomly. Ha ha ha. (I especially enjoy dying from taking inventory.) It looks like I occasionally win randomly too, even though I do not find the scarabæus.

Worst? Alas, no. Claiming to be the worst is the interactive fiction equivalent of forcing Godwin: it immediately nullifies the claim. Since the game did not crash (which it could have by delving into assembly, if the author hadn’t been lazy), nor did it contain any egregious errors (opportunity lost!), the author indeed accomplished his goal so I’m giving it a 2. That’ll learn ’em.

Opening Night

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 5
Story: 2

Bang! Start off immediately with the hyperbole.

OK, the author warns in the about blurb that the game is heavy on story, light on puzzles.

Just when I worried the game was going to take on a puerile tone:

Smell white fluid.

It smells like paste.

Talk about a break in continuity:

Go north.

You stagger backward as your foot touches - not solid ground - but empty air. There is a gaping hole separating the foyer and the vestibule, as if the concrete was split by an earthquake or blast. Strangely, none of the other patrons seem to have noticed.

Considering also that there are subtle changes to the inside and outside of the theatre, I’m guessing that this game has some fantasy element at its core, like the PC is a ghost moving through time or whatnot.

Yes, things have aged significantly since the first “act.”

The soldier all but confirms it. Ghosts. First impression seems to be justified. A bit clichéd, perhaps.

Dunno if this is a bug or an intentional limitation of the map (I suspect the latter):

The vestibule leads from the foyer to the south into what remains of the theatre to the north.

Go south.

You can’t go that way.

If it is intentional, something more than the standard boilerplate should have been used, even the hackneyed “mysterious force.”

Not ghosts, but hallucinations and bitter memories. Perhaps there was more exploring I could do, but I suspect I saw everything that the author wanted me to see.

As the author claimed, there were very few puzzles, mostly of the get-X-use-X variety. The only real challenger was getting into the theatre the first time.

As for the story… I really want to give it a high rating, I really do. The author tried very hard to make the PC a real character, but didn’t quite succeed. Unfortunately, the theme of lucid dreaming and unfulfilled opportunities has been overused in IF (Photopia, Halothane); even more so in general literature. To give this a high story rating would be condescending.

I tend to inveigh against so-called “stories on rails,” since they force the reader to take on a personality that may not even be close to her own. Such approaches inevitably become more directive than interactive, at which point the reader might as well feed the walkthru directly into the interpreter. The second “act” of this story did exactly that: the player was confined to acting out a series of steps such that the “memories” of his troubled past could be replayed in order. Thus, the final revelation was immensely unsatisfying.

Red Moon

Technical: 5
Puzzles: 1
Story: 2

“Red Moon Massacre” was replaced by “Pyromaniax” last year, and the Haunt has suffered for it. There seems to be an increase in the number of mutant-hillbilly themed… oh, wait. Wrong review.

The genre is definitely horror; it even says so in the opening paragraph. Footballer, sister — so help me, if I end up welding a chainsaw to the stump of my forearm…

I can’t read? Letters all twisted? Sounds like it’s just a nightmare. (Yeah, I saw Batman: The Animated Series too.)

More inappropriate boilerplate:

Show manuscript to sister.

Your sister is unimpressed.

OK, this is one long take on the Hitchhiker’s engine room puzzle. Alternate endings? Checking the walkthru: all variations on a theme. As they say, there’s not much there there.

Pity, too. When I looked into the mirror, my immediate thought was, “Cool, a reverse vampire-hunter game!” which, after Dracula’s, would have been a welcome change of perspective. Unfortunately, the author chose a more mundane twist at the end, with a PC that tries hard to be vile but barely registers a kilonazi because his offenses have yet to occur.

Another Inform 7 production. I’m starting to think the “low barrier” theory has merit. Either that, or I’m turning into another IF elitist.


Technical: 2
Puzzles: 2
Story: 4

Ah, finally. Some good ol’ sword-and-sorcery. Better have a dragon. An IF Comp isn’t complete without at least one dragon…

Our first contender for The Michael Crichton Memorial Infodump Award. Needs to be pruned down a bit.

Delightfully purple prose…

Too Many Capital Letters. This isn’t Deutschland, or worse, a wiki.

I like my description. I sound suave, sexy.

Not so happy with a Dark Clothing, though. I’ve said it before: no handicap for non-native speakers. You knew exactly what you were starting when you made your submission.

“It’s a Sign, a Sign I tell you! A Sign from the east!” “Shut up, Crow!”

Somehow, this list is comforting, even with the inappropriate indefinites:

You can see a Large Table (on which are a Potato Bag, a Vegetables Bag and an Empty Mug), a Stew Pot (in which is a Grain), a Tavern Bench (on which are a Barkeep and a Drunkard), a Tall Guard, a Scarred Guard and an Older Guard here.

(I guess I just like seeing objects for once.)

This doesn’t sound right:

Show coin to Simone.

The Barkeep is unimpressed.

Annoying lack of synonyms. Drunk does not work for drunkard; old does not for older; &c.

I half expect to see Drunkard has joined your party!

Yeah, a Incorrect Articles are starting to really annoy me now.

First need for a map. Whoo.

Gah, stupid guess-the-right-word puzzles…

What the… one secret passage and it’s all over?


A better solution this time. Still, the entire game felt more like it was deserving of the old Applesoft BASIC Eamon series than the Inform parser. The writing was… reasonable, but the plot lacked structure. About halfway through I was ready to hit the walkthru just to get to the ending.

In short, it needed a good editor and a bevy of beta testers.

A Date With Death

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 9
Story: 7

Starts out with a menu — never a good sign.

Big ol’ Crichtonesque infodump… getting to the point where it would be notable if a game didn’t open with five screenfuls of text.

Oh man, the third part in a series? A series in which no other part has been submitted to the IF Competition? Are you asking to be lynched?

Well, you can’t just invite me to wait for midnight and expect me not to use it right off the bat…

OK, that was entertaining, somewhat. Now that I’ve wasted fifteen minutes (ten on the introductory menu), let’s get to the game proper…

Menu-driven conversation works here. Normally it wouldn’t, but in this story it is apropos. Still, I wish that the screen didn’t clear every time a new topic was started. Shadows on the Mirror had the right design for topic-driven conversation, especially for a conversation-maze embedded in a larger game such as this one.

Part of the problem also is that the topics are in the second-person, when they really should be indirect objects in the first-person. Ask Bob about you is awkward; ask Bob about me keeps the link between the player and player character intact. The player should have been given an option here.

Would be nice if I could get Bartimony to repeat himself.

Man, I’m starting to think that death (with Death) is the best option after meeting most of these losers. Obviously, the “ideal” ending has to do with me getting my royal ass out of there.

Guardsman Strumm seems remarkably reticent. Might be a game bug.

Hm, armor is not a synonym for armour. Shame, shame…

I can’t seem to give orders. Maybe I don’t have the right syntax for Adrift.

I can’t execute the psychopath, and my ever-faithful bodyguard fails to protect me. Pity.

Had to restart. Couldn’t move the wardrobe after the assassination attempt. A bug? Restart. No, I need three people to move it. Grr… I hate puzzles that require a solution before a given point in the game (and I’m looking at you, Zork III). The author promises that the game is solvable from any state (or is it endable? — in which case, duh: there’s a time limit) so I don’t know if there is an alternate means to get behind the wardrobe.

Punch Angel of Death.

Who do you think you are, Mike Tyson?

This is a cute game, but rather long for a competition entry: I had to end it after two hours, without seeing the majority of the game. Hints were weak, and without an explicit walkthru it was difficult to pass some minor blocks which meant I spent more time than I should have on the puzzles.

Channel Surfing

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 6
Story: 7

Not very promising: Veteran IF players will probably consider this game too easy and short. Probably not a good idea to set expectations too low from the outset.

The other problem is that this really isn’t original. Variations on this theme have been in dozens of IF competition entries (not to mention countless movies).

The classic excuse for in medias res: short-term memory loss.

Can’t get the cushions on the chair; nor can I examine the legs of the table.

Break remote returns no response whatsoever, not even a boilerplate.

Not seeing anything useful in this room. The object descriptions are too vague to be useful. The remote gives no indication on how it is to be used. “Instructions” only gives a generic “how to play” boilerplate, which is always unnecessary.

OK, this is absurd. I’m in the first room, and I have to consult the walkthru to figure out how to use the damn remote. The first puzzle of the game should not be hunt-the-verb! Rather than including a beginner’s guide to IF (which, as I said before, does not need inclusion), how about including a “special verbs you may need for this game”? (cf. Piracy 2.0 for a good example.) Even an inline command description — e.g., (To use the remote, frotz the blah) — would have been helpful.

Enough grousing, on to Schrödinger.

If the game is driven by conversation, the least you can do is offer t as shorthand for talk to.

If Cat or Dead Cat is a parody of Deal or No Deal, then the author has hit the “no challenge” factor of the game dead on.

John Ritter did it better.

Doug Naylor did it better.

Arrgh. Not put, throw, or empty, but pour.

How much for the Cthulhu again?

Game is taking on a controversial political tone. While I doubt neo-cons and fundies play IF, it’s going to offend somebody. Bonus points for that.

Synonym FAIL:

A balding man in a dark suit – the strategist – stands in front of you. His skin is pale, and his eyes seem unusually harsh. You somehow remember him, but from where you can’t remember.

Examine man.

You can’t see any such thing.

Hm, there doesn’t seem to be an optimal ending. The author says that there are three, but they all seem to be variants on the same theme. If there is an optimal path through the conversation maze, I don’t care enough to find it.

The functional phrase here is “don’t care.” This could have been light-hearted, but it degenerated rather quickly into a ham-fisted sociopolitical statement. The story didn’t go on rails, but all roads lead to the smoldering wreckage of Rome — which in many ways was far worse.


Technical: 10
Puzzles: 9
Story: 10

Purple prose alert: first paragraph.

Looks like an “eccentric village” style of game.

Bunnies. Evil bunnies.

Every time there’s a rug, there’s got to be a trap door. It’s the law.

Tighten screw with screwdriver.

While drinking screwdrivers can increase your likelihood of screwing, they cannot in fact be used like screwdriver tools.

The author’s definition of “commonality” leans towards puns.

Oh good Lord, I’ve spent 90 minutes setting myself up for a shaggy dog story based on a Monty Python sketch.

Fun game. The only thing I was surprised was to find out that I only learned one magic trick. I expected something akin to the Enchanter trilogy. In that respect, the meta command almost seemed out-of-place with the rest of the game. It was important, obviously: it was instrumental in solving five of the puzzles.

Still, I wonder: could there have been a way to win without using Meta? Such a solution would be interesting to add; it would be akin to the wish-less solution of Wishbringer. (Obviously I’m not going to penalize the author for adding such an alternate path.)

Postscript: In retrospect, I’m not sure why I gave this game such a high rating. I think it was the only game that made me literally laugh out loud. Yes, that was it: I was chuckling for almost an hour after playing it. Dying is easy; it’s comedy that’s hard. Doubly so for interactive fiction.

Berrost’s Challenge

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 9
Story: 7

Remember I said something about Wishbringer? Here we have the same situation: you can solve the puzzles with or without magic, but going without magic earns you extra points.

Oh no, explicit capacity and weight limits:


You have a handwritten list of clues. Your total bulk is 1/12. Your total weight is 0/12.

“Its/It’s” confusion.

“Sweetbread” is the name for the thymus of an animal.

The well: first apparent unwinnable state. Restarting.

An elf… in a blacksmith shop. Nice to see that equal opportunity has reached even the fantasy realms.

Technically not a bug but it seems odd:


Silas stops you. “Not until you’ve beaten me at thumbwrestling.” he says.

Wrestle Silas.

Silas isn’t in the mood to wrestle you.

Ah, it wouldn’t be TADS until it pissed me off with a parsing complaint.

Clean foo with baz. Nope. Put baz in foo. Nope. Walkthru: the magic word is unclog.


Eat jerky.

You’ll have to buy some first.

Buy jerky.

I don’t know the word “buy”.

Went down into the cellar without a light source. Returned to the tavern. Talked to Silas. We discussed a chest that I had not seen. Whoops.

Description calls it a handbrake, but the game demands brake. Sigh.

This is a classic adventure in the style of Wishbringer: a series of independent tasks that all must be accomplished linked by a tenuous connection. Both the prologue and the epilogue were notably short, allowing the player to start solving puzzles immediately. On the technical side, however, the gratuitous grammatical errors, limited parser, and explicit weight management seriously distracted from game play, weakening the overall score.

Buried In Shoes

Technical: 3
Puzzles: 2
Story: 3

One of the best Twilight Zone episodes was “Dead Man’s Shoes,” and it amazingly was equaled in the 1980’s revival by “Dead Woman’s Shoes.” I’m sure this has nothing to do with either, but I thought you’d like to know.

Swords into plowshares? Wasn’t that from an episode of “The Bionic Woman”? (The real one, not the crappy hyper-emo remake.)

Interesting prompt; reminiscent of Witness (What will you, the detective, do now?).

OK, the source for this game is a personal recollection of a very emotional reaction to one of the most inhumane events of all history. This is a dangerous tack to try: it not only requires complete honesty on the part of the author, but it also requires the author to humbly admit others may not experience the same catharsis. As it is, my Emometer™ is pegged in the red. There is a place for emoting, where you can relate all your sorrows and your epiphanies to an eager audience: it is called LiveJournal. It is not here.

Oh good Lord, my first NPC encounter is with an angel.


Your soul projects itself through your throat.

Shattered illusion: please leave the poor birds out of this!

Smell shoe.

A fowl, musty, tragic odor assaults your nostrils. It momentarily overpowers you.

As I said, there is an inherent problem with this type of work. It’s all nice and good to try to use IF to tell a narrative, but entering obvious commands rather than hitting ‘space’ for the next page holds only a scintilla of difference. A personal essay cannot be converted into interactive fiction simply by changing from first person to second. Even the Kristallnacht episode, in which the PC has some minor flexibility, is stilted. Playing a part in a historical tragedy is disheartening: since the outcome is predetermined, the need for interaction and discovery is lessened.

I doubt even more florid prose could have done anything more than, say, reading Anne Frank. Part of the problem is that the author is trying to capture both his own sorrow and our nameless victim’s fear with succinct descriptions, then install them into the player through immersion. Alas, the former is too personal; the latter, too vague.


Technical: 9
Puzzles: 9
Story: 10

“A caper!” “A rat turd.” “A caper!” “If it’s a caper... eat it.”

Mmmm… murder mystery. Or the Russian mob. Or maybe horror. (Hannibal’s? Is Ms Kozyar now part of the main course?)

Hanibal is misspelled (unless it was intentional: neon sign had a burnt-out letter, perhaps?).

Storm drain: Ewww.

Nice to know that you only have to find a subset of the violations to fulfill the condemnation requirement. That eliminates the possibility of a LLP.

Finding body parts here and there. Collect the whole set, get a free stripper.

Oh, maybe it isn’t a straight slasher film… Either the corpse is supernaturally animated, or I’m going insane.

Supernatural. I should have guessed from the title.

Ran out of time, unfortunately.

Man, this was a gorefest. I like the negative point system. Amazing that a game this involved, this detailed, had no visible errors; at least none that I experienced (well, one typo; but I’ll ignore that).

Post-deadline: Didn’t get the optimal ending on the first try, but figured it out eventually.

Piracy 2.0

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 8
Story: 9

Text… Adventure… in… SPACE!

Mmmm… cheesy space opera (with extra cheese).

Infodump alert! Infodump alert!

Mmmm… online maps! Nice looking, too. “Just goes to show ya: a good map will always get you where you want to go.”

Can’t get in/on bed.

Boilerplate responses for vent did not help in discovering how to manipulate it. Fortunately, a poor object disambiguation routine did.

What would be space opera without the classic escape-through-the-ventilation-system scene?

You cannot close the vent (or even see it) from inside the duct. Classic door problem. No tech points off for it; but it would have been nice to see a two-sided door.

First bang-you’re-dead. No true warning. I suspect that, this being brought in from BASIC, there will be a few more before the end. (I could understand a furnace for heating, but having a nuclear reactor vent directly into the ship’s life support system? FAIL.)

The vent cover shouldn’t be portable; so The Matt Barringer Memorial Award for Including the Location of a Movable Object in Its Description goes to…

Object disambiguation seems to be a problem here. The game is too aggressive: it performs actions on the wrong things when there are obviously choices (e.g. pirate versus dead pirate).

Yes, this is classic space opera, right down to the self-destruct button, the ashes of the crew everywhere, and the hull separation sequence. Not so sure I like the hit points; while that may have worked for Beyond Zork, it seems somewhat out-of-place here, almost tacked on as an afterthought.

Whoops, major bug! I can be in the hull section, activate bridge separation from the computer room, then be killed when the bridge section is destroyed even though I am safely in the hull section. (Obviously, you should only be able to separate the ship from the bridge.)

The big bug above is the most serious flaw I encountered. Other than that, objects did what they were supposed to, there were hardly any red herrings.

Technically, when you die from getting rammed, the pirate is killed alongside you. The death message is incorrect in this case.

Hm, in a game involving shooting human beings, Violence is not the answer seems inappropriate.

Finally got 100 out of 100, but I wonder if this solution is optimal.

Just tried welding the doors of the lifeboats closed. No go. Since I can’t prevent the pirates from abandoning ship, I will assume that the previous solution I found was optimal.

I suppose most of the puzzles in this game can be attributed to common sense: if you need to retake command of a ship, you need to disable the offensive systems. However, a large portion of the endgame feels like the babelfish problem from Hitchhiker’s: each possible failure must be accounted for, and you aren’t fully aware of the potential failures until you have made the attempt a few times. This is dangerously close to violating Player Right #3: to be able to win without experience of past lives (The Craft of the Adventure, §3).

I guess I can’t be satisfied: I asked for more puzzles, more thinking, and when I get it I am frustrated. This game really could have been a contender if it had been tested a little more. I suspect that the endgame was not reached by most of the testers, which may explain why it feels less polished then the rest of the game. Still, the story and setting are perfect for this medium: the last five best-of-shows (in my opinion) have either been space opera or medieval fantasy.


Technical: 9
Puzzles: 10
Story: 10

Starting out with a map, but it is only a partial map. One can hope that the map covers a good portion of the game, and no additional paper is required.

Nice means of supporting distance movement: the player specifies a location and the game moves them to the location, one turn at a time. This was used in the detective series from Infocom, but rarely anywhere else. For large maps, it is a necessity.

OK, what we’re looking at is some sort of Omega Man scenario: a lone human in a city soon to be overrun by… what? And why would the player stay behind? These are the questions that need to be answered. Sometimes you just have to hate in medias res.

The Enemy. Such a loaded phrase.

Not so sure I like this format. It’s been tried several times before, and each time it falls flat.

Russian? What is this, some alternate history Russia-snares-Europe story? Post-war, Victorian, Home Office: all point to “yes.”

Former Soviet Republics. So much for that theory.

Okaaaay. Well, not OK. I’m sure this was one of the suboptimal solutions that the author mentioned in his introduction. But it doesn’t make sense even in this context.

Prior to breaking the camera:

Go to camera.

Which do you mean, the broken camera or the CCTV camera?

Missing epigraph: “It’s a bomb.” “A buh—!” “Not a ‘buh,’ a bomb.”

And another: “OK, remember: always cut the red wire.” (opens bomb; all the wires are red) “Aw! DarkKat, you miserable psycho!”

OK, got it. The city wanted people to evacuate and so they created the Enemy. In other words, “We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

Found a few more things confirming that theory.

A much better ending, although I don’t have all the details. How did she get a hold of the device for one? Doing the full walkthru might be more informative, but I just noticed that I am fifteen minutes over my limit. Near perfect once you get past the idea of people actually falling for the idea of “the Enemy” in this day and age.

Then again, they voted for Bush… twice.

Snack Time!

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 6
Story: 6

How nice! a non-multimedia version. I’ll be reviewing that, because right now I only have access to a dumb terminal.

Cute: the game is written by a dog with “help” from a human. The about information is disturbingly saccharine. Of course, this isn’t the first time a pet was the PC: Ralph and A Day for Soft Food both explored that approach.

Opportunities lost:

Bite hand.

But that’s the hand that gets you a snack!

(I would have gone with "feeds you." Maybe the author thought that too obvious.)

Hm, small world; certainly not on the size of Soft Food.

Hm, didn’t make it in the first run; only thirty out of fifty. (Is the scale-by-ten really necessary? Five points would have been sufficient, unless there is a LLP.)

On replay, decided to skip a step. Didn’t work. First, a synonym failure, then an action failure:

Look under smaller soft thing.

I only understood you as far as wanting to look under the little soft things.

Look under little soft thing.

You find nothing of interest.

Made it in the second run, but it looks like there is, in fact, a LLP.

Oh, yes. The final LLP was for being thoughtful.

Interesting, the walkthru had a different solution for the LLP. Nice alternative solution support there.

This implementation did everything right: custom responses for all items found in the environment (including the oft-neglected smell), unique verbs, proper object interaction, a few red herrings. A little smaller (that’s right, I’m now complaining it’s smaller) than a competition entry, but that is nice because I overran my time budget on the previous review. This could be expanded to a full game if the author was willing to keep up the level of detail found in this sample.

So much for the Inform 7 theory.


Technical: 6
Puzzles: 2
Story: 5

Bad way to start a game: give the player a blatant gender-determining question. Better to do it subtly, like Leather Goddesses of Phobos. I do hope gender is relevant, and there is no assumption about the orientation of the PC, or I shall be very upset. Best example of a gender-neutral game: Jigsaw.

Oh man, a completely unnecessary dream sequence. I think it broke the Emometer™ and we haven’t really started.

The cheese, the cheese! There should have been no gender selection: this is definitely written from the perspective of a woman (and I didn’t remember that the author is male until now). Everything as seen by “Mom” would have sufficed. Gender could easily have been avoided, giving the reviewers something to argue about.

Can’t put the seat belt on the child, can’t tell the child to wear the belt. I think we all know where this is going…

Yeah, that was expected. Not exactly sure what else I could do: the game was pretty much on rails up to the end. Obviously I missed something, as the explicit gender selection had no impact on the course of the day, and only appeared once in the flow: when Thomas called me “Dad.”

Well, at least the author acknowledges that it is easy to get into an unwinnable state. Restarting...

Ah, there is no winnable state. Well, at least you are honest about it...

This game feels like an attempt at catharsis. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author had lost his own son to an automobile accident. As I said when reviewing Shoes, there is a difficulty in doing this type of immersion, especially in such a tight time constraint. The episodes in the morning — waking Thomas, eating breakfast — did little to establish an emotional connection to the boy. This meant that when his death occurred, there was little impact save “Darn, I have to start over.” Maybe the author could have disabled Restart at the end to reinforce the finality of the choices?

Still, multiple paths, all leading to a depressing ending. Better than a story on rails, but just barely.

Inform 7 again. Just sayin’.

A Martian Odyssey

Technical: 3
Puzzles: 1
Story: 2

We now return to the 1957 film “Amazon Women on the Moon” with no further interruptions.

Interpersonal communication fills me with dread.

Right. It took me a few minutes to realize that this is an adaptation of the Stanley Weinbaum short story of the same name. Now, that's a problem; a severe problem. While the Weinbaum story is out of copyright (according to Project Gutenberg), at no point in the introduction did the author indicate that this is not an original script. I restarted just to verify this. The rules do not prohibit adaptations of stories, but I think we all agree that attribution must be given.

Oh, it is: in the non-standard credits command. I still say it should have been part of the version information, especially since that is displayed at the beginning.

Music is annoying.

I find myself following the story as written by the original author as I did with Manalive in 2006.

Black corruption. Verbatim from Weinbaum.

Really, it’s now just one long hunt-the-verb puzzle…

In a couple of places, the default boilerplate appears after the specialized text. Coding error.

Ask Tweel about pyramid.

There are no pyramids here to show him.
The top tiers of bricks are heaving and shaking. They suddenly slide down the sides with a thin crash.

I forgot how cheesy the dialog was in this story.

OK, that was direct. Probably not the best story to adapt; the original had points of irrationality and within the game framework seemed maddening. Lots of technical glitches, and no real puzzles to speak of. The author kept the laconic description of the original story, which did not improve my opinion of the adaptation.

Actually, “Amazon Women on the Moon” might have been a better story to adopt…

Recess At Last

Technical: 6
Puzzles: 8
Story: 6

A multimedia story, but without the equivalent text-only version.

I’ve been given a name. Now, here is the problem: this kind of game (a school setting) almost demands that the game know the player’s first name. The name given is gender-neutral, as is the PC’s description. So I’m not holding a bias against the author, this time.

Aside: So Mister Smarty-pants, how would you have gathered the player’s name?

The direct approach would work here, as it did in Seastalker. But since this is a school setting, let’s get creative.

Students have to write down their names on schoolwork. Instead of starting with everyone going to recess, start a few moments before recess, with the PC sitting at their desk, a finished assignment in front of them. All you need to do now is write your name on the paper and you can leave! prompts the game. The player would then write a name down. Assume everything up to the first space in the name is the person’s first name. Not perfect, but sneaky.

Again, take with a grain of salt. Armchair programmer, and all that. (Is there any other way to program?) End Aside

Asymmetry problem:

Open desk.

(your desk)
In your desk are a binder, a supply box and a blue folder.

Close desk.

(your desk)
The desk just has an open storage space below the desktop. It can’t be closed.

Oh man, origami fortune tellers. Start the nostalgia.

Am I going to read the entire book?

This worksheet tells me that the author has reasonable programming skills, so the ‘name capture’ suggestion I made above would have been reasonable.

Desk should really have resolved to your desk for all the verbs. If I cared about Sam’s desk, I would have made that clear.

Well, that was fun. Short, but fun. Lots of red herrings, which took up time so the overall length of play was almost an hour-and-a-half. The teacher was almost a hint system, especially helpful with the coat puzzle. There were a couple of glitches, mostly relating to capitalization; nothing severe. The multimedia at the beginning of the story was completely unnecessary, however, and should have been excluded.

Nerd Quest

Technical: 3
Puzzles: 3
Story: 2

Oh right, the lone Java entry. Now, normally I would not be critical about packaging, but Java has a packaging system. JAR files can be double-clickable from a number of systems (Windows being an exception; but of course Bill Gates puts his own ego in front of the customers).

This is a user interface? If you are going to use a non-standard game format, at least pick one with a more presentable UI.

Infodump in a terminal window. Be still my heart.

Well, it may hit a few points on the nostalgia market: it feels like a Scott Adams adventure.

Very much like a Scott Adams adventure. The parser is pissing me off.

This is really simplistic. The only challenge is fighting the parser.

Common abbreviations, such as L for look, are missing.

Enough. I gave this twenty minutes, which is nineteen more minutes than I should have. Each year someone feels that they can implement an entire developer’s kit by themselves, and each year we have to suffer from it. Nice try, but the complexity of setup and the poor parser killed it for me.

Scariest part of the game:



Not possible.


Technical: 6
Puzzles: 9
Story: 8

Last year we had The Chinese Room and the problem of gestalt intelligence; now we’re exploring the Anthropic Principle. In short, the AP says that the universe being able to sustain life is neither a coincidence nor an indication of an external guiding force but is a consequence of our ability to observe it; if the universe were not able to sustain life, we wouldn’t be around to see that.

“Time machine? No. Time tunnel? No. Delorean? No. I know! I’ll make Time Juice!”

Can’t examine engravings. Pity.

Look inside barrels.

Barrels is empty.

And later:

Light pours in from the gaping doorway and half-dozen windows only to be captured by exposed support beams, rafters and the walls of individual stalls leaving only meager illumination. Attached to one wall are several buckets.

Look at buckets.

You can’t see any such thing.

Ah, butterfly effect. Any actions I perform in the past has impact on the corresponding items in the future.

I don’t think I was supposed to survive going into the reactor. The room’s name was ‘#Reactor’ and the description was empty which suggests it is a placeholder.

Red is a perfectly good synonym for reddish. Don’t be pedantic.

Bug: the alarm clock melted as soon as I entered the smithy.

That would have taken forever without the walkthru, and I’m sure the walkthru didn’t give the optimal solution.

All in all, a good entry, barring a few technical glitches: missing room descriptions, objects in descriptions that could not be manipulated, &c. Puzzles were a bit on the difficult side for a competition entry, but nothing insurmountable. The only problem really was that the readme.txt file set up high expectations for a game which boiled down to: “Don’t create paradoxes.”

April in Paris

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 10
Story: 9

Map included. Good.

Very tiny geography: a single café.

Well, yes. Anyone who has ever played NetHack knows that there is a charisma penalty for wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

Ah, clever. The title makes sense now.

Hm. While I hate snobby waiters, I really think stealing tips is uncalled for.

All together now: “Thank Heaven for little girls.”

Hm. A carafe and an empty cup, both explicitly unimportant to the story. Abandoned puzzle, perhaps?

And The Inadvertent French Stereotype in a Parser Error Award goes to…


(first trying to go over to April)
There’s no room for you on her chair.

Oops, bug:

Get pastries.


Get pastries.

Well, maybe just one more.... You are already carrying the pastry. You are already carrying the pastry.

Argh, unexpected infodump from the chef.

And… just under two hours, with a few hints along the way. The limited map and few red herrings were a help, too. This game is perfect for its size: any larger and the concept would be strained; any more puzzles and the player might get too discouraged. The background story is simplistic enough that it didn’t get in the way of enjoying the world. Interaction with NPCs was reasonable, although tell chef about roast beef should have had a response, something that would have pushed the player in the direction of the correct question. Other than that, and the parser glitch (not a showstopper), the game was the quintessential competition entry.

Cry Wolf

Technical: 8
Puzzles: 6
Story: 6

Vampires have been overrepresented this year: time for some werewolves, perchance?

So help me, if the title page is the only multimedia…

Got a name and an occupation. OK for the latter, but… oh, who am I kidding? It’s a lost cause.

Right off the bat:

Get clothes.

You sort through the pile and find a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that are clean, though not folded.

Wear clothes.

(first taking your clothes)
You already have something to wear. No need to drag around all your dirty laundry.

Looks like I’m going commando.

Absolutely no response to read books.

Full moon. Yep.

Best excuse for not implementing a computer ever:

Turn on computer.

Nah, you would disturb the fish on the screen saver.

Yes, I’m going to sleep soundly with a vicious wild animal in my bedroom. This is perfectly reasonable.

Why are characters in these kinds of stories so incredibly dense? Go to sleep with wolf with broken arm (dumb in itself); wake up with woman with broken arm. Logical conclusion: one and the same.

Bug: If you search the clothes pile after getting dressed, you end up naked with the clothes back in the room.

Ouch: (the a selection of clothes to strange woman)

Emptying the bag creates all sorts of indefinite article problems. Most of the items in the bag should have been marked as plural.

Hm, I seem to have hit a dead end. We are at the hospital, but I cannot get out of the car. The woman is suddenly reticent.

Missed it. I need to give her something so she will exit. She should have said something akin to “Are you going to give me your number or not?” if the player did not after a few turns.

Drink coffee.

(the pot)
There’s nothing suitable to drink here.

An infodump. Why does it have to be infodumps? Especially since it’s obvious what the revelation will be. This ain’t an M. Night Shyamalan movie (thank goodness).

Yeah, we’ve hit the “mature themes” section of the game. Let’s hear it for implied bestiality!

OK, not bad, not great. The title sort of hinted what the theme of the story would be, but as I said that revelation wasn’t really key to the plot. The hardest part was the operation, but most of the steps were logical and easily determined by trial-and-error. No serious bugs, a couple of places synonyms should have been used, and a couple of objects had the wrong indefinite article attached. Game was linear, and I didn’t see any potential branch points except near the end.


Technical: 10
Puzzles: 9
Story: 10

I was sorely tempted to leave this review for last; only because of the irony of reviewing a game about procrastination and writer’s block on the last day of judging. Fate almost made this true: most the Z-code games I played were on an ancient version of Frotz on a hosted Unix box. But honesty prevailed.

Heteronormativity off. Cute.

Nice. Entering aside multiple times cycles through different “nothing more to tell” messages.

Hm. Everything seems to cycle: the room descriptions vary somewhat.

I might suspect that the author did the equivalent of sed -e 's/ass/[bother]/g' indiscriminately, but I think it was intentional. (Man, it must be late in the Comp: I’ve resorted to Unix jokes.)

Ha! Swallow key was actually implemented.

The game went smoothly after I figured out how to dispose of the key. Almost everything had to be done twice to make sure; the Hitchhiker’s Engine Room puzzle again. Absolutely amazed at the depth of responses, especially since they were written multiple times with different wording to introduce some variety. Great background story. It could have been done gender-neutral, but this time it didn’t bother me as Violet appeared distinctly feminine.

This would have been perfect to end the Comp on. Sigh, again.

When Machines Attack

Technical: 1
Puzzles: 6
Story: 3

Sounds like bad science fiction… yep, it's sci-fi.

And they give me a name. Boo!

Everyone seems odd. I wonder… could they be robots?

…somewhat robotically. Oh, hit me over the head with it.

Missing epigraph: “The perfect woman. Programmable, obedient, as beautiful or as deadly as I choose to make her.”

These infodumps are annoying.

The grand tour is even more annoying.

Turn dial to... does not work.

Oddball spacing. Inform used to have a problem with spurious spaces in descriptions, and had a flag to remove them. The author should have done so. Also, the italics are wrong: the space following the italicized word is also italicized, which is apparent because I like running with the classic Infocom look (Geneva 9, underlines for emphasis).

I think you cannot give multiple push lever commands in a single command line, or Splatterlight has issues. When I did multiple commands, the game went into an infinite loop.

OK, maybe not robots. Maybe the game title is deceptive. Maybe.

If I see a man with a prehensile tongue licking a table, I am not going to continue along if nothing happened. I may pretend that nothing happened, but I won’t blithely continue along.

Actually, just seeing someone spit on a food preparation surface would be unnerving.

“It’s made of people!”

Normal people do not act like this. Normal aliens do not act like this.

Walkthru time. And we get: [** Programming error: portrait (object number 107) has no property initial to set **]

And The Longest Possible Infodump Award goes to…

Skimming, skimming, skimming.

Waaait a minute. This sounds disturbingly like Scientology. So help me, if Xenu shows up…

I’ve stopped reading Captain Exposition’s monologue by the tenth page. Just looking for keywords that signal it is finally over.

There were some good puzzles here; better if they had been thought out. Some of them violated Player Right #3: to be able to win without experience of past lives (The Craft of the Adventure, §3). All made sense after-the-fact, although some of NPC James’s actions could have been reduced to “Here, you’ll need this to win. Figure out how.” Any implementation points were lost with the mega-infodump at the end. Sorry, but I have to make an example of you before others indulge in this madness.

Just be forewarned if you haven’t played this game but are considering it: this isn’t merely Samuel-Goldwyn-Company level of bad sci-fi; this is Sci-Fi-Channel level of bad sci-fi. This is on par with Alien From L.A. and only a few steps away from Manos. It brings the word ‘bad’ to new levels of badness. Bad acting. Bad premise. Bad everything. This bad game just oozed rottenness from every bad scene… Simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness.

Well, maybe not that bad; but Lord, it wasn’t good.

Please ignore the ‘Xenu’ reference. We do not need a game based on ‘Xenu.’ Eat your oatmeal. Fnord.

The Lucubrator

Technical: 7
Puzzles: 8
Story: 8

Paging Drs. West and Cain; paging Drs. West and Cain. You are wanted in the morgue.

Monkeys. Why did it have to be monkeys?

Odd. When I save the game and restart it, all the debugging flags are turned on. Nope, just that one save file.

Somewhat inappropriate boilerplates:

Hit chair.

Violence isn’t the answer to this one.

Throw cleaver at Jeff.

You lack the nerve when it comes to the crucial moment.

You cannot cooperate, sadly:

Get on table.

But you’ve only just escaped from it!

And later:

Put Jeff on table.

You need to be holding Jeff before you can put him on top of something else.

Get Jeff.

I don’t suppose Jeff would care for that.

Hello, he’s dead!

Jeff has somehow reanimated himself. I killed him multiple times. Got 5 out of 3 points before he took me down. I think this bug has to do with sitting on the chair then standing, but I can't reproduce it.

Ah, thank you my old friend Get all. You succeeded where search body did not.

Why can’t I randomly kill people with the cleaver? Does everybody have to be killed in a special way? (Happy revenants are all alike…)

Lots of unnecessary red herrings that announce themselves as such. Do I have to kill Joe with chips?

Ah, dessert! Chilled human brains, Doctor Jones!

No, I said kick:

Kick Dave.

You swing the gun…

Interesting concept, only hampered by an overly restrictive solution path. Killing Joe was a major bottleneck; after thirty minutes, I gave up and hit the walkthru.

I’ll end this with the most obscure missed epigraph yet: “Eat his brain, gain his knowledge. Go for his spleen, too. Them’s good eating.”


Technical: 3
Puzzles: 1
Story: 1

Oh dear. A story about Social Anxiety Disorder (DSM-IV 300.23). Aside from being a little too close to home, it means that I will most likely be limited to passive actions (wait, look, &c). Isn’t this supposed to be escapist entertainment? Oh well, let’s get this over with…

Hm. The location descriptions are notably laconic; almost redundant in their brutishness. Example:

Your apartment. It has a kitchen…

Do we really need “Your Apartment” after the room title?

Oh, I wasn’t supposed to ask about the game until after I played.

Uh, OK. Did I miss something? I managed to get to the very end without a problem, then hit the meeting “puzzle” (and I use the term lightly) which required me to take a rather atypical action even for a normal person. Maybe I’m too close to the problem: none of the actions I took appeared extremely unconventional. Since this took less than ten minutes from start to finish, I think I’ll retry as a social butterfly…

Hm. After I get into the normal line, buy groceries has the same effect: I do my own checkout. If there is supposed to be any deeper meaning to this game, it has escaped me. Restoring… Ah, yes. The “grocery” puzzle requires you to get into the express lane first.

Not going to bother forcing myself to find puzzles; just not worth it.