Let's Play IF Comp 2015

This year I decided to write and share my reactions and thoughts on each of the IFComp games that I am able to play.
Hopefully this will be an enjoyable experience.

[rant=The Insect Massacre]“The Insect Massacre” by Tom Delanoy (1 October)
-If this game is about an insect or a technological bug killing a bunch of people in space by ruining a piece of important equipment, I will not be happy.
-Can the mayor not read or hear the computer? She said that Soto is the prime candidate. That is an answer. Also, why is there a mayor on this space station? Is this a futuristic space station? More like a space city?
-Molly went from being the sheriff to the chief of police.
-So the mayor appears to have some close connection with Sally.
-Molly just seems to ask questions.
-…Sally could have also shut down the computer? But a suicide doesn’t make sense with her injuries.
-And I don’t think the computer killed her. Again, doesn’t make sense with the injuries. Unless the computer has a body.
-The mayor has a wife??
-I’m a good computer. I turn the lights on when asked. I turn the lights off when asked.
-The pants were dead.
-Rod is WAAAAAY too calm about the whole “all the plants in hydroponics are dying” situation.
-Why doesn’t he just say “All the dead insects breathed.” or “All the dead insects suffocated.”?
-But why would the computer kill Sally? And the insects?
-The computer was dating the victim???
-Why didn’t the hologram go to engineering or anywhere else?

On one hand, I think this is pretty cool. Personally, the only font color that came close to annoying me was the nurse’s, but even there it wasn’t unbearable, in my opinion.
On the other hand, it was rather short and although I played through to get multiple endings, the bruising was never explained.[/rant]

[rant=Much Love, BJP]“Much Love, BJP” by Megan Stevens (2 October)
-Not sure if Lybia is an alternate spelling of Libya or if that’s a typo.
-Bany is an interesting name.
-Bany and Benjamin.
-Interesting that it’s BJP’s dad doing this and not Ben. I guess Ben is busy with work/kids/Meulin’s dog.
-Reading to your kids until 1 a.m. is good parenting.
-Ah. And now we have the gender component.
-Not sure how giggling schoolgirls translates to being confident and doing what the boys could do. Immaturity? Naivety?
-What was that line about Bany’s daughter not recognizing her doing there?
-I hope the translator was OK with her experience being written about.
-Thank you for acknowledging that both women and men experience sexual assault.
-“Without his support” Without whose support? Meulin’s boss? Polzin’s boss? Confused.
-U of M? As in “go gophers”?
-Something bad happened. Something is wrong with Bany.
-Also, typo. “after putting her had on Van Meulin’s arm”

There may have been a glitch in that I finished the game without clicking ‘Much love from home’. (I did play it again in order to see what was there.)
Also, the scrapbooking element threw me for a loop at first. It goes from Bany’s father putting things in the scrapbook to parenthesis saying where things are on the pages.
Still, it was interesting; it made me wish the game went more in depth.[/rant]

[rant=Darkiss]“Darkiss” by Marco Vallario (3 October)
-The English translation of an Italian game that came out back in 2011. There is a sequel that will hopefully also be translated.
-The full Italian name is much more explicit on what the game will contain. “Il bacio del vampiro”.
-The fact that it was translated to English brings two questions to mind.
1. Does this mean that Darkiss isn’t ‘dark kiss’?
2. What would happen if someone tried to play the game in Italian?
-Something CLEARLY happened. He got stabbed.
-Since he’s a vampire, doesn’t that mean that he’s kind of dead?
-Count? Is this a reference to folklore where vampires have a need to count things?
-“Van Helsing, a vampire is cursing in a parser game.”
-Martin Voigt is a polite evil vampire. He closes the coffin behind him.
-Um…If it’s been years, then the fools who tried this might be dead.
-I am ready. Must count bats.
-So Martin is okay with the snake room, but not the spider room?
-Too late to save Sabrina.
-…She’s going to need a new coffin.
-It’s chalk. Chalk goes away when wet.
-But Sabrina suffered an unjust death. Can’t revenge be included?
-So now is he strong enough to move that shelf?
-You can’t tell me that I’ve counted enough spiders!! I’ll count all the spiders I want!!!
-Impressive that his (re)killers knew about his dislike for mirrors, since it sounds like it’s a personal dislike.
-Not bare hands. Bare teeth. There’s a difference.
-How did they even bring such a large mirror in here?
-I thought the wolves and Martin were friends.
-I guess he can’t make the wolf his minion. Disappointing.
-Anderson and his gang are going to get it.
-…Guess Sabrina doesn’t need a new coffin after all.
-I hope he doesn’t kill her. She seems nice and somebody needs to tell Martin’s subjects that he’s back.
-Drat. He killed her. I guess he did need to drink all of her blood.
-I tried to talk to the wolf!

While it is a shame that “talk to” or “speak to” didn’t work, the game as a whole was fun and at times funny. I’m a fan of partial hint systems and I felt this one was well executed.
Let’s just say that there is a reason why the original Italian version of this game has a 4.5/5 rating on IFDB.[/rant]

It’s great to see Darkiss reaching more people. I enjoyed the original very much, and the sequel is also very good. The spin-off I’ve been unable to finish, sadly. It’s a great series, and again, I love it that more people are getting to see it.

[rant=Taghairm]Taghairm by Chandler Groover (4 October)
-I’ve played some of Groover’s work before. It will be interesting to see how this (and the parser entry) compare with those works.
-What were they even doing that for? What was there to get out of it? …I’m going to need to do this to completion to find out.
-Where did they even get all those cats?
-So I played through it all the way to the ending and we don’t learn why they were doing that, what they wanted? Just that they got it?

Technically, a fully playable piece. The random descriptions of the cats could make things even more disturbing (as in whenever the description was about a kitten).
But this game was a frustrating series of loops and no real answers and cats in pain. Was there a point to this?[/rant]

[rant=Summit]Summit by Phantom Williams (originally played on 4 October, crash on the 5th lost the data, replayed on the 8th)
-Heck yeah silver city. Not so much for what the people there do.
-Cash register song.
-You bet the traveler is taking that song.
-I thought I clicked keep walking?
-Poets without inspiration are sad.
-Can’t eat the fish. Can’t not eat the fish.
-Lonely? But Mara is there.
-Why don’t they just let the fish out instead of dying from fishpoisioning?
-Guessing that the liver is the computer. Interesting.
-Well, if the drink isn’t hurting anybody…It should be safe.
-The computer seems very organic.
-Text switched to first person for a moment. There is a narrator.
-Flickering image??
-Hello small child!
-This seems like a nice place.
-…But this isn’t the end of the game.
-We’re going to abandon Odis. Bad dad.
-Goodbye Odis, Mara. The traveler will come back.
-Unless something strange happens at the summit that makes coming back impossible.
-Who is ‘we’? Was the narrator one of the scientists?
-Yeah. There are people living without fish back in the village. I mean, they had fish, but they didn’t need them.
-I’d like to stay, but the traveler needs to reach the summit.
-Whelp. The fish are killing the traveler.
-Growing distrustful of the summit.
-So the earthworms are like the people who keep eating fish?
-Bad. We’re SUPPOSED to be going to the summit. But NOOOOO.
-Since the traveler didn’t stay, we’ll write about the scientists in the canyon.
-I’m not sure if that rhetorical question was there on my first playthrough or if I missed/forgot it. The later seems like it would be hard to do.
-Can’t stay. Must go. Even if we aren’t going to the summit, the traveler needs to go back to the village. Back to Odis and Mara.
-The narrator returns and we’re in this together.
-Of course it wouldn’t be familiar. How long has the traveler been gone?
-Suprised people are still doing the thing.
-FINALLY. The traveler can go home. To the village.
-…Why would someone assassinate the vine-heart?
-…No Mara? …No Odis???
-So now that the traveler has become one with walking, will we reach the summit?
-Now you’re a triangle. Now you’re delta, the symbol of change.
-Was it picked because it looks like a mountain, or because it’s delta?
-Pretty sure nothing was real or the summit is just a metaphor.
-Did I miss Aries on the zodiac roll call?
-Ah. Narrator is gonna finish the story now.

This is another game which highlights what can be done in Twine.
I didn’t hear any music, but I wasn’t wearing headphones.
There was a part in the blue city that unnerved me.[/rant]

[rant=In the Friend Zone]“In the Friend Zone” by Brendan Vance
-What appears to be another first IF game.
-I keep calling it “Nice Guys”.
-Psalm. Palm.
-“The current looks too fast to swim.” This is probably a correct sentence and yet it feels wrong to me.
-I think pilgrim was just washed up here.
-Author, do know that you can cycle through things in Twine, right? Or are you trying to keep all the pronouns open?
-Well, one can cycle between are and is, so I guess the author did know.
-I didn’t get it.
-Does EVERYONE here have the same crush on the same person?
-Is the player the pilgrim talking to the eye? Are the two pilgrims one and the same?
-This game deserves points JUST for the line “the gait of a rabid weasel”.
-The traveler has left the anus.
-Is the knight Leslie? Do 2 and the knight know each other?
-Perennials are the plants that come back every year.
-2, you’re weirding me out.
-Considering that 7 was willing to trade a number for a face, that guy in the club just wanted a number to get to the love interest, and that most people have numbers here, I’m thinking that Leslie had a whole lot more nerve than you, 2.
-The picture probably is of 2 (or the player or both because all the numbers and all the pilgrims are the same person), the love interest, and Leslie.
-Yup. The Crucible is a vagina.
-The short guard is so done with the tall guard’s shenanigans.
-I was just told to come here and nobody explained anything and you two are the most helpful so far.
-The tall guard CAN speak English. …And is actually more understandable than the short guard.
-So, apparently the knight is okay with the pilgrim.
-…I don’t know what happened in the mission.
-Oh there you are Mr. Greeter.
-The knight killed the eye.
-Okay. Let’s try to pass the Crucible.
-Short guard is concerned for pilgrim.
-Well, if there is a way off of the island (and if it is truly Kafkaesque, there won’t be), it isn’t through the Crucible.

Maybe if I was more familiar with Kafka’s work, I would have more of an opinion about this game. It is surreal and while I want to play it again to see how the knight and the greeter answer to different questions, I am familiar enough with Kafka’s work to know that different choices won’t change the ending.
It’s still a good game. I just don’t feel like I have anything to say.[/rant]

[rant=Ether]Ether by MathBrush (6 October)
-MathBrush has recently posted a lot of reviews on IFDB.
-MathBrush may be a IF playing/reviewing robot.
-Just saying.
-This is apparently another first published IF game.
-I’m excited about the flying cephalopod.
-Although the flying isn’t such a unique trait in this world, seeing as all the scenery seems to be floating.
-Glowing red ice. At least it isn’t yellow ice.
-Interesting that it has alternate names for directions (colder = north, hotter = south, fiercer = east, milder = west, thinner = up, denser = down) but the combinational directions are given as NU/UN/NorthUp.
-Later it turns out that the parser cannot understand md but does get wd
-Ice. Crystal.
-I can relate to this cephalopod though. TOO STUBORN TO GIVE UP.
-Okay. So it isn’t so much that the world is a 9x9x9 cube as it is that those are the boundaries of where the flying cephalopod can go without dying.
-The cephalopod’s shell is red and white and the cephalopod’s magic is red.
Would it be a different color if the shell was a different color?
-Flying celphalopod in a mechanical crocodile.
-The way out is a scroll.
-I’m more concerned about the scroll being in a violent storm than the oddness of it forming so far away.
-Strong winds and important pieces of paper (especially small pieces of paper) don’t go well together.
-Not sure what the difference in gust is between “The wind here is slower and mild” and “The air flows slowly here” but I can read the scroll now.
-Sleepy cephalopod.
-It’s okay, cephalopod. You can fly and you have magic and you’re a cephalopod. You’ll be great at world building.
-The first time the objects leave the livable boundaries of the world. I try again.
-The coral seems closer. I’ll go there first.
-Woah. The game just got better.
-For the record, I thought it was going to be a “fly around and get the things” game. A well implemented one where every square has descriptions to let one know where the cephalopod is currently. But not exciting. The thrill of flying cephalopod can only go so far, and if the puzzle was getting the things before they fly out of reach, it wasn’t a challenging or fun one (and the “go to” would basically kill it as the player could just do that instead of thinking it through which isn’t even that hard if one knows directions and just pays attention to the objects).
-But now things are happening and it is still basically a “go and get things” game. Except now the getting of things has stuff going on and it’s wild and I like it.
-If the coral of darkness is now behaving like a heart, does that make it “the heart of darkness”?
-If we’re going with different states of matter here, vacuum should be plasma.
-I would totally be okay with learning more about this cephalopod’s life.
-The west is apparently ok with the cephalopod leaving though.
-So if one goes too far west, one risks falling asleep?
-Can’t carry two things at once. At least with the flying cephalopod it makes sense.
-Where am I supposed to take the flask???
-So I take each item to a place where it will break open?
-Good. New world has atmosphere now. I know that technically it wouldn’t have mattered what I grabbed first, but atmosphere is important.
-I don’t even care storm. ROCKET CEPHALOPOD.
-Drat. I thought bringing the chest to the north would further break the locks. That did not work. Well, I know how to break a bottle. Let’s get that.
-I thought the creating the world was a unique experience to this new world. Apparently not since it’s going to be the biggest of all the worlds the flying rocket cephalopod made.
-The current world is not happy.
-I repeat my desire to learn more about the flying cephalopod’s life. Guy taught mathematics in a treetop school 3 worlds ago. And had students. This world seems all alone.
-So one is supposed to use the wind to rip open the chest.
-An iron core. Like Earth!
-I get the feeling I should have gone for the chest first as now I can CRUSH things.
-Well, at least once I get the kettle again, I can break it and not have to worry about the world attacking me.
-Kidding. I rocketed about instead.
-Now I can carry multiple things at once, but I don’t think there’s anything left to carry.
-Need to find the membrane/dam in order to get to exciting new world that hopefully won’t be trying to murder the cephalopod all the time like this one currently is.
-Pretty sure even a tiny tear in the fabric of space and time is a problem, but okay.
-New world, AWAY!
-Knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.
-Legend of Zelda has prepared me for this. We need to attack the eye.
-The pale green phosphorescent rain is cool.
-One eye attack down.
-I guess I could have crushed the eye. But ROCKETING is more fun and it said that I can’t crush things unless the cephalopod is holding them and I don’t think the cephalopod can pick up that stormbeast.
-And the winner is…Cephalopod!
-…I thought cephalopod was going to the newly made world. It looks like it is in space.
-Stormbeast wants to kill the baby world. I’M NOT GONNA LET THAT HAPPEN!
-“Opening a mighty machine and flying out”. Did cephalopod come in a space ship?
-The cephalopod wasn’t alone. The cephalopod had the world and the world loved the cephalopod.
-Yeah. Wouldn’t have made sense for the world to bring the ice/crystal back to the cephalopod or let items that left the boundary respawn if it didn’t want the cephalopod to go.
-Thanks old world.
-Awww. It’s kissing the cephalopod goodbye.
-Kiss back.
-Goodbye old world.
-I don’t think the cephalopod can swim up. …Which is probably intentional.
-Called the new world being Earth.
-The cephalopod did kiss itself when I was trying to kiss the world.
-Also, I did get the cephalopod to take a nap.
-The cephalopod could have become a diamond???
-Ahh, but MathBrush. You are forgetting that the liquid STRENGTHENED the protagonist’s tentacles so its tentacles could have wound up as strong as a regular nautilus.
-In the end, the protag moves using ROCKET PROPULSISION which is cooler than jet propulsion.

Well done MathBrush. The game starts off slow and while it continues being slow, it gradually becomes more interesting.
While I feel like the puzzles were somewhat lackluster (I didn’t need a walkthrough or hints), it is your first game and just because a person likes puzzles doesn’t mean that they are great at providing them.
The best advice I have is to make sure that you start out a little stronger. Once the coral and jellyfish spawned, I was sure it was going to be a go here, go there, game with not enough description to keep my interest. I guess you could argue that by having it draw out the boredom/mundane, it made the next parts more exciting and shocking.[/rant]