Extreme Omnivore: Text Edition

This is quite an odd game. I don’t really get it.

“Extreme Omnivore: Text Edition” is a name that makes me think we’re gonna be doing some extreme omnivore things! Eating everything! Which, considering some games I’ve written myself, I’d be down for. But, uh, you don’t really eat much? You’re just in a normal apartment, which the text describes as “boring” and “dull,” and the gameplay consists of going through the rooms and trying and failing to eat stuff like pens and shampoo bottles. Just because they’re there. Finally you get to eat dinner in the kitchen, and the game ends.

I thought maybe we were playing a dog at first, since the blurb says we’re “hungry as a dog” and we’re willing to try eating crayons and cushions and whatnot. But apparently we’re just a person who’s too desperate to wait for dinner? Except not THAT desperate, since like I said, you’re not exactly devouring this stuff. It’s always unappetizing and then your character doesn’t wanna keep eating it. The impression I come away with is that this is a story about someone getting home from work, whose partner (?) is cooking dinner, who wanders around their own apartment for five minutes or so, randomly nibbling household items until dinner is ready.

Some of the items in the house, and the food served for dinner, is described with rather loving attention. But I just don’t get it! Why are all these items in the game? What’s the purpose of putting the spotlight on them? The game keeps pointing out how ordinary everything is. Why not spice things up? It would’ve been funny if we DID get to eat the items, and thereby demolish the house or get a stomachache or something, but it just doesn’t happen!

There are lots of implementation holes. The game uses compass directions, but they’re not listed. When you’re in the entrance hall, you can ENTER LIVING ROOM DOOR to enter the living room. But then, once you’re in the living room, it’s still called the living room door. So when you ENTER LIVING ROOM DOOR again, you’re now in the entrance hall. It’s like this for every room/door. X ME gives the default Inform 7 response. Lots of the responses are defaults. Many synonyms are missing. Things mentioned in the room descriptions (like linoleum, for example) aren’t implemented.

I needed the walkthrough to finish. You have to say “thank you” to Ina for making dinner, but this wasn’t cued anywhere in the game that I saw. Ina didn’t respond to the conversation topics I tried, so I didn’t expect conversation to be a puzzle. Also, it was really hard to eat dinner! There’s a pie in the oven, and when you try to open the oven it’s too hot, which made me think I needed to wait or do something else first, but the game just wanted me to EAT PIE and ignore the oven. Mixed signals! Ditto with the rice and soup.

I feel like this author could make a pretty sweet game. There’s loving attention to certain details here, like I mentioned. Some of the writing is evocative. Despite the implementation holes, the foundation is okay. It’s not really a buggy game. It’s more like it’s an egg that’s unhatched? Waiting to become more than it is? Unless I missed some devious secret underbelly, which I suppose is possible!

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Agreed on all fronts. If I recall correctly, I don’t think the doors were even labeled with which room they went to; I think I got out of the entrance hall by blindly trying compass directions, which was how I continued to navigate for the rest of the game.

There were also limited inventory spots, and pockets, and multiple bags. Inventory juggling puzzle? No, I don’t think there was actually any reason to carry anything at any point, unless I missed it. The NPC’s name made me wonder if it was a big Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten joke I didn’t know enough to get, but that also seems a long shot.

You don’t really get any reward for trying to eat the weird stuff, and it doesn’t actually seem to be necessary for finishing the game (haven’t tried), but you do get a score-like counter for them? Except it doesn’t actually seem to matter and the game is mainly exploration. Which isn’t strictly wrong or anything, it’s just another mixed message in a game that’s full of them. It’s not playing to the genre’s expectations of goals, which is fine, but it’s not really giving you any indication of alternate goals to go for. It’s an exploration game with a lot of puzzle-y cues and a protagonist who would rather be eating than exploring. I dunno, it’s not bad, it’s just… there isn’t much of a clear goal, and it isn’t quite good/interesting enough to make aimless exploration its own reward, if that makes sense.

You don’t need to interact with any item for the first part of the game to continue. Just increase the explored counter on the top right. The counter on the top left for eating uneatable things is just there, not doing much. That counter changes though when you enter the last part of the game. Then it shows actual progression.

The game felt really strange with all it’s unnecessary items, especiall after playing a normal kind of puzzle text adventure where every single item is important and you don’t want to miss one.