This is another contender for my favorite game of the comp but it is also A Lot.
Most of the twenty-something- games I have played so far have been at least average to very good. This game is outstanding and I am generally more of a parser guy. It is bold and vicious. It makes me sick and puts nasty visions behind my eyes and I love it.
(I’ve been doing capsule review-blurbs on Twitter)
What happened to the kids in Sinister? Bogeyman @ifcomp is like Lemony Snicket via Tim Burton but darker. Gorgeous text styling and atmospheric music. No hopeful anthems of “Tomorrow” from these children!
I’ve also posted a review of the game on my blog.
A meticulously honed conte cruel that’s definitely not for kids. My spoilery and fairly interpretative review:
[spoiler]Cannibalism is a surprisingly perennial theme in IF, so much so that when warned that a game gets Really Dark or is A Lot, I automatically brace for it to appear. I suspect that’s because it works well and relatively safely when the core theme of the story is abuse: cannibalism is horrible, but there aren’t many people who’ve been held captive by real-life cannibals, or had to choose to fawn over a cannibal tyrant in the hope of being eaten last.
‘Bogeyman’ is straight out of the gate with this approach, and it does it well and brutally and without any apologies. The gameplay is a deliberate skim of apparent choices that provide minimal freedom, which suits the narrative march of a story whose moral seemed (at least to me) to literally be ‘you can’t win’ (the content warning states that all but one or two of the numerous unpleasantnesses of this game ‘are not easily avoided through the player’s actions’ - my impression is that the vast majority are totally inevitable and can’t be avoided at all). I played the game through twice, to read both an ending where I tried to be good, and to one where I rebelled, and both were satisfying.
The character of the Bogeyman himself is IMO the best thing in the game: an abusive 101 of volatile self-indulgence, false promises, cunning assurance that all the things that are happening to you are your own fault, occasional bursts of worrisome bonhomie, and above all, easy confidence that there is nowhere for you to go. Precision stuff that gets a queasy ‘bravo’ from me.
Although Patrick Ness’ 2011 bereavement novel ‘A Monster Calls’ has a very different theme to ‘Bogeyman’, I was reminded of it while playing this because they both deal with the child’s question ‘What have I done to deserve this?’, and both give the same answer by way of dark allegory.
Prize: Gosh, this is a tricky one. A dusty magic lantern slide showing an open door. But there’s no projector to make it life-sized.[/spoiler]