Violet is a game that is frequently included in lists of games meant for introducing people to IF, not because it is particularly easy, but because it’s concept shows the power of IF and the setting is very familiar with much of its target audience.
In this game, you are a doctoral student who had procrastinated their dissertation for years. Today their girlfriend has given them an ultimatum to write a large number of words or pages, or they’ll live. The gimmick here is that the parser is the girlfriend, or at least an imaginary version of them. So all the commands and even the help menus and credits are in her voice.
What does it do right?
==Use of the parser/Strong PC==
What Violet does very best is to turn the parser from a sometimes-awkward omniscient but for less narrator into an NPC, and an imaginary one at that. The command-response tango of parser becomes a conversation in one man (or woman, with the heteronormativity off option)'s head, and this is very effective.
All basic responses are changed, the credits are changed, everything is changed into this voice, achieving a very strong and unusual tone. In addition, Violet herself and her relationship with the PC are slowly unveiled as the game progresses, giving an unusually good backstory in an unusual way.
Violet is a deep game. It contains a working ipod type object with humorous but complex controls. It allows you to use objects in multiple ways, and several puzzles have more than one solution. It has quite a few background events that play throughout the game. It anticipates a lot of actions. And so on.
This goes hand in hand with the part about the parser, but the writing is quite good in this game. The narrator, an Australian, goes into laugh-out-loud detail about things like vegimite, Aussie cussing, bizarre gum flavors, and so on. The background events, which would get repetitive in a less well written game, are a story all on their own. The creativity in Violets gifts and what happens to them, the songs described, all of it is well done, and we’ll played.
Violet used a very creative take on the parser combined with strong writing and deep implementation to dominates the XYZZYS, beating games like the long thriller Nightfall and the sci-fi western Gun Mute.
On a personal note, I never liked Violet before, because I was in grad school and it was too close to home. The idea of someone constantly harping on me to finish a paper would drive me crazy. Now that I’m finished, I appreciate the game more.