Pathfinder by Tony Woods (Inform)

“Pathfinder” – another of the many games entered in the IFComp 2006 that didn’t make any sense. I started off outside my house, shivering from cold and unable to get inside because I’d left my keys at the office. A few moments later, a sedan pulls up, driven by a total stranger and, for reasons that I can’t quite explain, I get inside. (Actually, I can explain them. There’s nothing else to do and the game doesn’t move on till you get inside so you’re forced to either go along with it or just sit there and stare at the screen for a while.) The sedan drives me across town, drops me off at an apartment block and then I go inside and, for another totally baffling reason, kill some poor chap that I work with. Why? The game gives the excuse that he’s received a text message from a friend, referred to me as a loser in it and has said he’s going to give me a beer or two and then get me out of there. And for this I decide to kill him? After showing up at his apartment and thumping on his door in the middle of the night? And, for that matter, where did I get the knife from that I stabbed him to death with? I certainly wasn’t carrying it beforehand (and my knife-free inventory verifies this), so where did it come from?

Setting aside the fact that the motivations of my character didn’t make a bit of sense to me, I also wasn’t too keen on the game as a whole. I got stuck at a steel door at one point because I kept typing PRESS on the keypad at the side of it whereas the game expected TYPE. Funnily enough, the first thing I typed – PRESS 1 – yielded a proper response so it was even more annoying when PRESS 2, PRESS 3, etc, just yielded error messages. Then there was the weird knocking on the door puzzle. KNOCK ON BROWN DOOR doesn’t work. Nor does KNOCK ON DOOR. (Both command responses make mention of a button, even though you never actually refer to a button.) But KNOCK BROWN DOOR does work. Strange.

Part of me feels I should have played the game further than I did but even with the walkthrough to hand, I couldn’t seem to find any enthusiasm to play it any longer.

3 out of 10