[spoiler]Did I mention my dislike for stats management?
Looking beyond that, this is a solidly implemented piece of choice-based IF, with good language. The illustrations are nice too!
There's just one thing that nags me, but it is kind of central to the whole work. And it's this:
The work is trying to tell us something important about gender roles and children. And I think it fails spectacularly at that. In my view, boys and girls should ideally be given equal opportunities. This means, among other things, that all children should get to play with dolls if they want to, and Transformers if they want to. I would expect my choice, as protagonist in this story, to wear practical clothes and not brush my hair, to be based on inner factors such as laziness and my desire to run around a lot while playing---especially now that I have legs! It has nothing to do with how I pee. And yet the game punishes me for not trying to adapt to traditionally girly behaviour, for the only reason that I now have the body of a girl. And I find that problematic in a game that specifically sets out to talk to children about gender.[/spoiler]
Life On Mars?
[spoiler]This game requires a terminal that is at least 160 characters wide. As it happens, I prefer my terminal windows even wider, and this caused the game to crash. So apparently there was an upper limit too.
Out of my two hours, I first spent 40 minutes watching the backstory scroll by in slow motion. This was irritating, to put it kindly. But the backstory was good, so I endured.
We learn that in this setting, all the furniture is constructed from a set of basic building blocks, that you could in principle recombine into any structure you wanted. But this is not implemented in the game. A chair is a chair is a chair. That kind of felt like a missed opportunity. If you're going to hint at a certain mode of interactivity in a piece of IF, why not go all the way and make a puzzle out of it?
But I digress. We're looking at an existing work that was translated, so we should primarily judge it by the quality of the translation. And I think the writing works very well in this one, creating an appropriately dark mood and sense of depression and paranoia.[/spoiler]
To Burn In Memory
[spoiler]On the very first page, and also throughout the gameworld, are some paragraphs that are very hard to read, and clickable links to “activate the memory”. These links did not do anything in my browser. So I assumed that the paragraphs represented suppressed or locked-off memories that could somehow be activated later in the game. This never happened, however, so I gradually realised that it was probably a bug, and a pretty game-breaking one at that.
But I explored the world as best I could, and squinted my way through the exposed parts of the inaccessible memories.
This must've been a nice world-building exercise for the author, but I have to admit that the writing fell short of drawing me into the world. As a veteran IF player, I'm kind of blasé about wandering around an abandoned maze-like city with random keys strewn around. Even if I normally enjoy exploring and discovering a backstory bit by bit. Perhaps the prose was a bit too purple.
One novelty was that the locations were referred to by several different names, like people in a Russion novel. Drawing a map helped.[/spoiler]
TOMBs of Reschette
[spoiler]ONE THOUSAND BATS!
Looking over my notes for this game, I realise that the author achieved something quite remarkable: Making a really bad first impression, and then gradually turning that into a positive experience as the humorous angle became apparent.
For instance, you get to read some quite elaborate backstory about the mystery of the Zambapta, in mounting anticipation of all the great plot twists and puzzles that this will surely involve. And then you just click to slay it.
I also really enjoyed reading the bat disease sequence.
I'll give TOMBs of Reschette 97 points out of a possible 71. Although I don't know if that is good or bad.[/spoiler]
Much Love, BJP
This is presented in the form of a collage, which I personally found a bit disorienting. It is essentially hypertext. The subject matter is moving, but it feels more like browsing a wiki than reading a story.
[spoiler]“Go ahead and climb into bed, Benji.” He says.
>climb into bed
You can’t see any such thing.
This game has an interesting premise, and is ambitious in scope. Unfortunately, it is littered with small blemishes like success messages that should have been inhibited because the action was cancelled, errors in spelling and grammar, pesky do-obvious-things-in-the-right-order puzzles and weird inconsistencies like having a wall-to-wall carpet that you can look under.
There are also several nice things. Most of the puzzles are fair. I really liked the one where you have to get somebody out of the shower! And the in-world hint system was fine (even if some of the hints were a bit too heavy-handed for my taste, and the topic suggestor would occasionally blurt out spoilers). The game also features a 5.25" floppy disk and a Commodore 64, which was neat!
One thing that frustrated me was the lethal dentist's chair. I had figured out that while dreaming, I could teleport by dreaming about a location. So I thought my way out of the chair, into a different room. Two moves later, I was killed by the probe anyway. I eventually had to resort to the walkthrough to learn that I was supposed to dream about the probe. In one sense, that is consistent with the game world, because DREAM acts like a swiss-army-knife verb. But I still think my approach was better, and should have been supported as an alternative solution.
The walkthrough says you may have to UNDO at one point to complete the game. That's a bit weak in my book.
A note on dreams: Electrical switches are extraordinarily unreliable when you are dreaming. The TV in the game had a working on/off switch. In my opinion, it would have been much more convincing if the TV were on all the time, the switch did nothing, and even unplugging the TV from the wall wouldn't turn it off.
And I kind of expected the parser to understand FLY in a lucid dream simulator.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]>close east door
(first ignoring unnecessary text “door”)
You must name something more substantial.
This is a surrealistic yet self-consistent, solid and well-written game. I ran out of time playing it, partly because I got stuck on the somnuliser puzzle, and partly because I was enjoying the library too much. But this is a game that I'll be happy to return to.
I totally adore the puzzle mechanic of the rug!
There are some flaws, nevertheless. There is a note to betatesters included in a default response, and this kind of breaks the fourth wall. Sometimes the parser discloses new information in passing, e.g. "(first opening the brick wall)" when trying to go west, even though the brick wall hasn't been mentioned yet. In an early puzzle, "just a nudge would send it down", but NUDGE isn't recognised by the parser.
But those are minor gripes. Overall, this is one of my favourite games in the comp.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]The blurb didn’t put me off. The first warning was in the filenames, that I happened to glean at. Luckily, I habitually play without sound, and felt no urge to make an exception this time.
I get the general idea, and there's some shock value in it I suppose, but it's absolutely not enjoyable to play.
Interestingly, the same author wrote one of my favourites in the comp, Midnight. Swordfight.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]You wake up, everything is strange and there are no people around.
However, this is a game where we get to explore a world and gradually discover a backstory. That is something I enjoy quite a lot, especially when the backstory has some fodder for thought in it.
Sometimes the writing strays too far and breaks the fourth wall. Quoting Pratchett on an official sign in the Serious Government Museum, for instance. And "the washbasin is just scenery".
It also bothered me that everybody was male in this story, apparently for no good reason.
Before long, the game veers into puzzle territory. I found some of the puzzles to be highly uninspiring. For instance, several involved reading a number scratched somewhere, going to a machine to type that number, and then learning that some apparently unrelated change had occurred in the gameworld. But some other puzzles were fair, and I particularly enjoyed one part of the network cable puzzle, where I had to draw conclusions based on hints that had been provided as part of room descriptions.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]I ran into several continuity problems, such as seeing references to a mess after cleaning it up. There’s also a picture of an analogue clock, but the text refers to a digital one.
And then I somehow got to a blank todo list and couldn't proceed.
Maybe I had found ataraxia.[/spoiler]