Enigma, by Simon Deimel
[spoiler]WHAT I ENJOYED: The premise/gameplay seems unique; I appreciate someone willing to take a chance and try something new. (As I said in the review above this, I enjoyed Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes, which was really experimental and strange. I’m all for weird new stuff.)
WHAT I DIDN’T ENJOY: The gameplay itself became EXTREMELY tedious. It’s unique and strange, but not in an entertaining way.
Basically, you can do only two things: examine objects, or think about objects/other concepts mentioned in the text.
As player, you literally can’t go anywhere, interact with anyone, pick anything up, put anything down, etc.
You look; you think about stuff; and that’s it.
In the “Info” section of the game, author himself writes:
I am sure that some people will think, “Why did he do it this way? It would be more obvious as a hypertext game.” And yes, these people are right, it would be easier to play…
Yep. I agree. It would have worked much, much better as hypertext. It’s basically the same experience as a hypertext game. For example, here is an excerpt from early on in the game:
Tim Delbrock has been your best friend since junior high school. He is your favorite fellow student. You have known each other for a long time. He is a part of your best memories. It was just a question of time until he became the boyfriend of your younger sister Gina. You really appreciated that development.
Now, if this were a hypertext work, certain words in that paragraph would be highlighted, and you’d click on them to move the story forward. Instead, none of the words are highlighted (unless you switch the game to EASY mode.) You, as the player, are expected to figure out which words or phrases in the text are significant, and then either “examine” those words or “think about them.” (It’s important to do both, BTW. Sometimes those different verbs produce different results.)
It got really tedious, really quickly.
By reading the “help” section, I learned that I could, at least, use shortcuts: I could type “t (noun)” instead of “think about (noun)” and that saved a lot of typing. However, if I hadn’t gotten frustrated with the game & read the help section, I wouldn’t have discovered that; the author clearly wants players to finish the game without getting clues from the “help” section. (Eventually, I used the walkthrough to complete it, because I wanted to see how the story would end, but I was tired of the actual gameplay’s repetitive nature. Think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine, think, examine…)
THE PREMISE: This was odd, to say the least: I’m someone holding a gun, presumably about to shoot my best friend, but suddenly I’ve developed amnesia for some reason. So I just stand motionless, looking around and thinking about stuff, trying to remember why I’m there. In a surreal comedy or avant-garde piece, the odd premise might’ve flown, but it just didn’t work for me in this game, which was a standard crime tale beyond the strangeness of the “stuck in a moment” concept.
THE PLOT: As soon as the game told me that my friend used to date my little sister, I (correctly) guessed I was shooting him because he’d done something horrible to her. As a mystery story, the plot was far too predictable.[/spoiler]