En Garde: A Voyager Forever Mindless?

@ifcomp - Aw, I’m a cute lil’ mouse! What colorful buttons! Buttons must poosh. -click- OH MY GOD I EAT BRAINS.

This game was so unexpectedly funny and heartwarming and witty! I can’t believe it’s had so few reviews – please play it, everyone!

Well, one of the things that put me off about En Garde was that it has to be run over an online server. Admittedly there are several such games this competition, but in this game’s case I did not really see the necessity: It seems like a overcomplicated setup to me, something which would have been doable with a parser and shorter commands or alternatively with a hypertext if you really wanted to click. At best the buttons seemed gimmicky to me, at worst they felt overly simplified.

Nevertheless I have to agree that the story is entertaining and quite witty. The characters are especially fun! It also has just the right length to be finishable in one sitting.

The ending could have been a bit more creative Personally I would have found it rather funny if you would have gotten out of the lab and continued eating brains until you became a collective mind of all of the survivors. A radical cure so to speak. Would have been a nice twist, but I guess the actual ending is OK too

Jokey cover art/title based on ‘A Mind Forever Voyaging’? OK, I’m down to play this.

I have to admit that I quite liked the notion of starting off with a Skinner box of blank, coloured buttons (since the idea that you start an IF game incapable of verbalised thought is a tricky illusion to create when the game’s responses have to be in text).

Spoilery review follows.

[spoiler]I’m not sure the cover art quite does this nonverbal conceit justice - at the risk of seeming both dim and easily-flattered, without the picture of ol’ Julien looking the worse for wear (and the cautions about cannibalistic subject matter), it probably would have taken me a little time to work out exactly what was going on and proudly reach for myself the conclusion ‘Aha! I be zombie…and I have to katamari damacy myself into gaining enough smarts to escape’. Hey, I like feeling clever. Don’t judge me.

I love the cast of semi-NPCs in this thing like a revenant loves grey matter; their humorous bickering and philosophising is charming. I’m not quite so sold on the longish sections where my button-clicks just cue their internal discussions to trundle onwards as I wander the lab complex, but I know that customising this for particular situations would have been even more laborious than keeping the scenery descriptions congruent with the growing intelligence of the PC, which is done well.

And there’s some fun implementation of stuff one might try from idle curiosity; I can lift the seat of the toilet and attempt to eat from it, for example, and am duly squicked: apparently quaffing literal toilet water (or worse) is even more repulsive than consuming brains tartare. And when I later try to slurp from the toilet as the scientist, Isabelle, I get an upgraded response from when I tried it as Julien, the guard.

No. I will instead go to the showers. If I must be a zombie, I will be a presentable zombie. No novelty maggots, no baroque pustules, no entrails dragging behind me. This is 2018: we are not the undead, we are the revivified. This final section, leading up to a scene in a lab, is where the button-based instructions creak a bit; Isabelle is an intricate thinker, and you can’t really convey that with a series of buttons.

I kept wondering if I’d ever have to do battle with another undead, multispecies brains trust like myself, and/or argue with them about which of us should assimilate the other – but that would have put things more firmly into the ‘horror’ side of comedy/horror, and ‘En Garde’ deserves praise for its nicely-judged balance between the two.

I believe this game was originally (or maybe simultaneously) written in French (at least, the credits lead me to think so). If this is the case then the translation is impressively crisp, luckily for me, as my own alleged French is a thing that makes native Francophones back away nervously.

Prize: A romantic dinner for two: cerveau de zombie façon tartare[/spoiler]

I’ve also posted a review of this fun game on my blog.

Thanks reviewers and players!

I’ve posted a post-mortem on my blog:


  • Jack