I stumbled over my first IF game half a year ago so I am fairly new to the genre. I am also from germany and english is not my native language, although I love to write and speak this melodic language as often as I can. Sometimes I tend to write more for the sake of melody than the sake of meaning, but I will restrain myself in these reviews. Currently I am still studying media science, and I am fascinated by interactive fiction - because I am a writer and a gamer, I see these two layers transformed into a new one with interactive fiction (though IF is of course not a new genre) - but probably it is with Twine and all the new tools for people to create games and stories even without knowledge of programming etc.
I did write a Twine story for this year’s competition, but I also want to review some of the other games. So here it is.
16 Ways To Kill a Vampire at McDonalds by Abigail Corfman is a short game you can play fairly long.
It seems to me everyone is reviewing 16 Ways To Kill a Vampire at McDonalds, probably because it is on top of the entry list (if you don’t randomize it), and so I thought I’d take a shot at this little game for my first review. That be said, I liked 16 Ways To Kill a Vampire at McDonalds.
Mostly. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of these games where you have to find clues and click them together to succeed. I’m a story and atmosphere addict which is why this game didn’t get me really hooked.
[spoiler]WHAT IS THE GAME ABOUT
16 Ways To Kill a Vampire at McDonalds is exactly what it says in the title. After a short prologue (which I liked very much) the story starts in a McDonald’s branch where you have to kill the only other customer – a vampire. The prologue isn’t important to the games outcome (which I didn’t like very much), so you can skip it when you restart the game.
And you will restart the game a lot.
After you finish one ending you get a list with all the open endings (hopefully 15 after your first walktrough) you still need to accomplish. There are even hints, in case you stumble over one or another way to kill vampires that isn’t obvious.
HOW IS THE WRITING
I liked the writing. It’s simple, funny and straight to the point. It structures the story clever and you always know how to do things and why you should do them. Along with the prologue it builds some kind of atmosphere for sure, and it’s a nice one but it wasn’t amazing. It’s skilled writing though and I’d say someone else might like it a lot more.
TELL ME ALREADY WHY YOU DIDN’T LOVE IT
Apart from everything I already told you is the reason why I won’t give the game 8 or 9 points and say fuck it, other people will love it. It’s because of the repetitiveness. And I love repetition, but with some choices you just have to restart and restart and randomly try all posibilities until you stabbed or burned or hugged that vampire to death.
An example: You can smash the vampires face if you are angry enough (i guess you don’t have to do much for that) – it’s one of the more not-so-obvious ways to kill the vampire but the hints will help you find it out and that’s really not my problem here. The problem is that you have three options with which object you want to attack the vampire, and only one is the right choice. I needed to play this end three times (yeah, lucky one) to get it right.
You might say the first option is the best weapon but what about stabbing the vampire? Or burning him with the oil? I didn’t know my lovely vampire slayer wanted to smash the vampires face exactly at this point, and so I got it wrong. And wrong again.
The thing is, everytime you get it wrong, you have to repeat the way to this particular choice. That killed the fun for me a little. (Even when I still was very proud when I finally got all 16 ways right).
COOL THING: You find the option True Ending under Unlockables (only in the end) - it’s a way of playing the McDonalds cashier and telling the story from behind her eyes. Meanwhile you get to know how often you chose a choice while progressing in the game.
PS: I want to call the mother.[/spoiler]
CONCLUSION: Everyone who likes these sort of games – go and play it immediately. The good writing, the funny moments and the (mostly) clever puzzles are definitely worth your time. That be said, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it without the hints (and I’m not sure if that was the intention of the writer) but see for yourself.
BUGS: I once got the time 11:62 displayed. Another time it was 11:128 and I waited and waited and waited.
SIGIL READER (FIELD) by verityvirtue. A short parser game about amnesia.
After randomizing my entry list I got Sigil Reader (Field) by verityvirtue on top of the list. It’s a small parser game which still took me some hours to complete, probably because I’m new to the genre. You can save your progress, and there’s a list with commands you need to know. There’s also a walkthrough if you need help.
[spoiler]WHAT IS THE GAME ABOUT
Sigil Reader (Field) is an exploration game inside the facility you, as the sigil reader, work. No one is there and you have to find some clues on what happened since you can’t remember a thing. After e few steps you realize there was an attack on the facility which probably explains why you are utterly alone in there.
HOW IS THE WRITING
I really liked the world around the game but I didn’t like the world-building. Although the writing is skilled and fun to read, there is just too little explained and it took me the whole game to understand how these sigils work and what I need to do. Roaming through an empty station with work offices without knowing what you actually have to do can be very exhausting.
What’s more, there is this idea about the protagonist having amnesia and it’s your job to find and examine the objects you can use to remember. Mostly you remember your coworkers, but you can also remember other topics which leaves you to randomly try to use REMEMBER (or ‘r’) with everything. Exhausting.
That be said, this game probably should be exhausting. It wouldn’t be less difficult for someone who wakes up somewhere with a blackout. I’d say in this case it’s fairly realistic and I loved how you could remember the whole story step by step until there is a whole picture to examine.
Now there’s the thing: Some objects just appear seemingly random when you remember something. There is no logic in how you find your torchlight or other useful things – it’s not about you being clever but about you trying everything out and if you didn’t find what you wanted, trying it out again.
DO YOU LIKE IT OR NOT
To be honest, I was glad when I saw the words THE END. Simultaneously, I liked how it ended even when it was predictable. I got mixed feelings about the game – on one hand I would love to know more about the world surrounding the game or about some objects (seriously, what was the rabbit skull about?) and on the other hand it got me a little desperate at times.
PS: I want to take the rabbit skull.[/spoiler]
CONCLUSION: If you like exploration games or games that deal with amnesia (and I was really fascinated how Sigil Reader (Field) dealt with it), this game might be something for you. If you get tired really fast or rather like easy entertainment, you should play something else.
BUGS: I could read something on the whiteboard with EXAMINE but if I tried READ it said there was nothing written. Once a text passage appeared double.
I hope I can review some more entries next weekend, i look forward to it!