Game #12: Wish
By Edward Floren
Played On: October 20th (35 minutes)
Platform: Inform 6 (Zcode)
A pixie comes scurrying up to you, takes one look, offers a quizzical expression, then disappears
I have surprisingly little to say about Wish, an entry by Edward Floren. You are nine-year-old Sarah, on a brief adventure with hints of Alice in Wonderland about it. The events leading up to Sarah’s adventure are told as cut-scenes during the transitional segments of her journey.
This is a game many players will complete in half an hour. That’s short, even by IFComp standards. So, while it’s technically a pretty solid game (I found no bugs, and only a few minor rough spots in the text here and there), there just isn’t much to it. It’s a little guess-the-verb-y in spots, but not so much that proper phrasing doesn’t present itself after a couple attempts. The puzzles are about as simple as puzzles come, serving mainly just to give Sarah something to do in her adventure.
Wish might be a good starter game for kids, or a game kids could enjoy with the help of a parent. It has emotion that, while not particularly forced or anything, would probably strike a chord more with a younger player (or perhaps with a younger player’s grandfather) than with the typical IFComp judge slogging his way through twenty-nine entries.
As to the story, I can make a few comments (with potential spoilers). I’m not sure what symbolism was involved here. Maybe the recurring “diamond” shape is meant to match the tree’s star? The ending explains what Sarah is doing during the game, but only sort of. What was the significance of these particular encounters? In light of the ending (and the “advice” given Sarah by her mother), how were these things supposed to have helped? Are they part of something bigger – something the author believed players would understand at the end? For that matter, it seems to me like a bad idea to give that advice to Sarah (at least worded as it was), when she was already struck with misguided self-blame over what happened earlier. Was there, then, more to the story than meets the eye?
I have a feeling this is one game most judges won’t feel too strongly about, one way or the other. On one hand, it’s more polished and it plays more smoothly than some of the larger, more ambitious games in the competition. It tells a simple and touching (if slightly predictable) story. On the other hand, it is pretty short, and while effort has certainly gone into its creation, it’s probably not to the extent seen in many of the other entries. It doesn’t deserve a low rating, but at the same time, it’s difficult to rate it on par with longer, more developed entries (another example of how my rating criteria fall short). That’s why I’ve scored (and voted) it a “X”, with a “minus” for brevity.