Phil's very short reviews of IFComp 2023

I’ll mostly do parser games, 'cause that’s how I roll.

Assembly by Ben Kirwin

Assembling furniture puts you face-to-face with the end of the world as we know it!

A fun concept rolled up into a short, entertaining, and well-executed game. Maybe it’s just because I like putting together IKEA furniture, but I have to imagine this will be one of the top contenders among parser games this year. There were a couple of places where a synonym or two might have been nice, but for the most part the implementation was excellent. The instruction manuals, in particular, were impeccably done.

Grade: (IKE)A


Who Iced Mayor McFreeze? by Damon L. Wakes

I liked the original Sugar City game, Who Shot Gum E. Bear?. This one, unfortunately, didn’t do it for me, for a few reasons. First is the bane of so many a game, including mine: missing synonyms and descriptions. I will give it credit for including a “verbs” command, which spared me some heartache. Next are the puzzles, which I thought relied too much on finding objects by searching the right thing, and then using them in ways that felt counter-intuitive to me. And finally I wish there had been some real mystery solving involved. After making it through the game and finding clues along the way, I was disappointed to not have a chance to name the killer myself. Bonus points for making good use of smell and taste.


All Hands Abandon Ship by David Lee

I like games about doomed spaceships, so I was enthusiastic when I saw All Hands Abandon Ship. However AHAS feels like it’s just a sketch of a game that needed a few more months of work on it. From the narrative (where’s the crew? what’s my goal? why is the PA system going all GLaDOS on me?), to the details (lots of unneeded locations, of which I didn’t visit many in winning the game; lots of strange unnecessary objects), to the purely mechanical (disambiguation; scenery objects showing up in the object list at the end of a description), this seems like a work that the author started, but lost interest in after laying out the map and putting in a few game mechanics. Perhaps he could finish it up and enter it in the Back Garden in Spring Thing.