2014 IFComp: A Smattering of Reviews

Eidolon, by A.D. Jansen

[spoiler]WHAT I ENJOYED: Good writing—beautiful descriptions, poetic imagery. Parts of it are truly creepy (I was playing it alone & in a dark room at 3 am, and I’d recommend others do the same.) It has a great balance of horror & fantasy/wonder. The princess is an engaging, interesting character, and concepts like a hole in the sky, a ghostly girl from an opposite world of imaginary numbers, and eyes painted on china plates kept me intrigued.

WHAT I DIDN’T ENJOY: The game went on too long for me, and I didn’t finish it. (I wish there was a way to save progress & come back to it later; if that exists, I didn’t see it.) Some sections felt tedious; at times, there was lots of text to read, fed to me in small increments, but not much for me to really interact with in a meaningful way, beyond examining objects/scenery and waiting for an opportunity to actually do something. When I got to the girl’s world, the puzzles were bewildering to me; the first puzzle, which involved finding a key among a bunch of moths, had no logical solution; it was just a matter of randomly clicking on moths (although the game seemed to be discouraging me from doing that) until a key turned up.

The first part of the game, in the house, sometimes followed the semi-nonsensical impressionistic pseudo-logic of dreams, and I thought it worked well because of that.

However, the second part of the game continued that non-logical format, making puzzles frustrating.

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE IN A REVISION: Get rid of the puzzles. The characters are interesting enough to sustain the story—a search for keys or whatever isn’t needed as an excuse to move the plot along. Come up with ways for the player to make choices & meaningfully interact with the story that don’t involve seeking hidden objects.

Also, implement saving. The game is, at least for me, too verbose to finish in one sitting.

Oh, and also, streamline the text & player interactions with the text. I got frustrated at how slowly the game moved at times.

For example, there’s a section which begins:

-Birds are whooping.

Okay. Cool. And the word “whooping” is hyperlinked. So I click on it. I get:

-Birds are whooping. Beetles ratcheting.

And I click on “ratcheting.” I get:

-Birds are whooping. Beetles ratcheting. Moths mobbing swollen flowers.

And so on. Perhaps it’s there for poetic effect—the way the game sometimes feeds the player information in terse chunks that involve a lot of clicking, clicking, clicking to get past. But for me, it grew annoying after a while.[/spoiler]