This one didn’t impress me. Why? Well, here’s a sample from my transcript. Try and see if you can spot any flaws:
THE MEZZANINE HAS A PLUSH, RED VELVET CARPET. THICK, TASSELED ARABIAN DRAPES
ARE HUNG ON BOTH SIDES TO THE NORTHERN ENTRANCE TO THE BALCONY. THE DRAPES
DEPICT IMAGES OF COUPLING GOATS. BESIDE EACH PAIR OF GOATS IS A SCYTHE AND A
BOOK. THE ARTWORK IS LIKE SOME KIND OF PRIMITIVE FETISHISM. TWO STAIRWAYS
COME UP FROM THE FOYER TO THE EAST AND WEST. YOU ALMOST MISS IT BUT THERE IS A
STRANGE, AND AT THE SAME TIME, FAMILIAR SMELL HERE.
THE WORD “MEZZANINE” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “CARPET” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “DRAPES” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “ENTRANCE” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “BALCONY” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “ARTWORK” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “SCYTHE” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “BOOK” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
THE WORD “STAIRWAYS” IS NOT NECESSARY IN THIS STORY.
YOU SEE NO SMELL HERE.
Doesn’t really give a good impression, does it? None of the items I can see have been covered, and the only thing I can get a response to is, I’m guessing, just a default response of the system and not one programmed by the writer. And not ‘seeing’ a smell is equally as bad. While it isn’t necessary to provide a description for every little thing the player can see, it’s definitely necessary to provide a description for some of them. Not including a description for any of them is never going to go down well.
The rest of the game was just as bad. I met a receptionist called Monica whose entire conversation to me was without speech marks, making it confusing telling which of the text was spoken and which wasn’t. Surely the author knows how to make speech marks show up? If not, why not just use apostrophes? At least do something to indicate to the player which part of the text is being spoken. My opinion of the game dropped even lower when Monica indicated a pen and asked me to sign in. How? The game doesn’t understand the word PEN, it doesn’t understand the word SIGN and neither could I find anything to sign.
I went elsewhere. I wandered east. Far east. And then I died. Funnily enough, despite the fact that I was dead, the game didn’t end and let me continue typing in commands. It even displayed the snow cave where I’d died and told me I was ‘continuing’ to go east even though I was currently dead. That’s quality game testing right there.
That was about as much as I could take. I didn’t have a clue what Reconciling Mother was supposed to be about – the introduction seems to imply you’re some kind of soldier on a mission but nothing else gave any indication of this and you don’t carry any items to clue you in – and the whole thing seemed to have been put together so quickly and with so little effort, that I found it hard to summon up the enthusiasm to play it again. Out of the 11 games in the IFComp I’ve played so far, this has definitely been one of the worst.
Addendum: As with several other games in the IFComp this year, once I’d finished playing it, I went and looked for other reviews to see if anyone else had figured out what it was all about. Some seem to have played it for a lot longer than me (I can only wonder why), though no one seemed to have been left with a particularly good impression of it. What the game is about seemed as much a mystery to other people as it did to me and someone even commented on the fact that it appeared to be a whole mess of ideas rolled into one without anything linking them together. Maybe there’s some obvious reason behind the game if you play it long enough and see everything it has to show, but considering the problems I had with it, and the fact that I was only too pleased to quit when I died, I think I’ll just let this one go.
1 out of 10