Note: most of the reviews below contain heavy spoilers.
[spoiler]I couldn’t quite understand what was going on here, but part of the idea was probably to make the player try to figure that out. I admit I failed in that task. ‘Take’ is more or less the only verb that works in the game (besides ‘examine’), and it works practically with everything you can think of, but it doesn’t actually take anything. Taken things don’t go to your inventory, and the location description remains the same after trying to take an object mentioned in it. You’re playing as some sort of a knight who is preparing for a battle. You are described as having a monitor attached to your chest, and everything you do is reflected in the monitor (as text?) and reacted to by an audience. You have a female assistant who prepares you and I got a feeling that it’s an assistant like on movie sets or something. Or is the protagonist a reporter or a journalist who must constantly write about stuff to keep the audience’s interest and survive (professionally)? And the ‘assistant’ is actually his boss? Go figure.
The verb ‘take’ seems to mean typing down something on the monitor, even if a separate keyboard is not mentioned. I played the game through a couple of times (it takes just about 15 minutes to finish one playthrough), and the outcome was the same both times; I am not sure if that was winning or losing. Seems like the protagonist finally succumbs to his adversary at the end, so it doesn’t feel like winning; and there is little I can come up with to change that outcome. Curiously, one of the options after the game ends is WIN, and if you type that, a short post-game follows (written by a Jeremiah Carver for some reason). In it, you have to use the verb ‘use’ and you win right away.
Looking at all of the above, I am not sure if this entry is poking fun at some more artistic pieces of IF, or if it seriously tries to get a point across. The experience was not that exciting, and no special atmosphere, gimmick or other special value was imminently visible. There was an unfinished sentence near the beginning that broke off without a warning, and a new sentence, with a capital letter, started right away: “You must You’re competing with cinema combat and gladiator personalities.”
The subtitle mentions a ‘joke’ but there was nothing that funny here. But it did make you think. And there was some fine prose included, anyway.
HOW TO WIN AT ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
[spoiler]This was a fun game with good, inventive puzzles making creative use of the old rock-paper-scissors theme. Appreciated even more as this is the author’s first game. It is solid and well-tested. The puzzles were just the right difficulty and fair. There was a good amount of humor that made one chuckle a few times. The location descriptions were sometimes on the short side, mostly describing the directions. At the end I was expecting that all those nice and even less nice people encountered who ended up in the vortex would have re-emerged somehow, but it turned out to be part of the humor of the game that this never happened. The ending was a bit abrupt; there could have been something more, like some more description about how the protagonist felt or what he did after winning; after all, he sacrificed many people to his ends. Anyway: a good, fun game.
[spoiler]This seems to be one of those joke entries that pop up in more or less every IFComp. Because I basically believe in the basic goodness of humanity, I trust that hidden there somewhere is an awesome game that just didn’t get unlocked by anyone yet. That one brass key that could be taken and examined, unlike anything else in the game, was a hope-inducing token of this.
In practice though: if there was something else to this, it wasn’t clear how to reach it. That made the game just feel like a piece of lazy immaturity that doesn’t give anything to the player but sooner underestimates them.