Review: Being Andrew Plotkin

(The game of the movie! It felt like someone was telling the movie to me but changed a bunch of things to make it sound new and surprising. Good writing, but ultimately somewhat underwhelming. Being Andrew Plotkin - Details (ifdb.org))

A postcard from Zarf’s insides.

Quick recap: the protagonist of the movie/game finds a magic door that leads into John Malkovich’/Andrew Plotkin’s mind. Shenanigans ensue.

For the most part, the game follows the plot of the movie quite closely. The biggest alterations are jokes and references to IF in general and Zarf’s games in particular. Since I wasn’t around in the era of sizzling and bubbling creativity on the intfiction newsgroups in the 90s, a lot of the references went over my head. I’m also not intimately familiar enough with Andrew Plotkin’s work to recognize all the jokes and shout-outs.
However, having roamed the internet for IF-history sources, a lot of the game did ring a funny bell.

For a text-adventure about a PC who’s a hobbyist text-adventure writer entering the mind of one of the most renowned text-adventure writers of the era, there’s precious little text-adventuring to do.

Most of the game pushes you along the rails laid out by the movie, with frequent conversations where you can choose to say a silly thing or an even sillier thing. Only in the very last sequence before the epilogue does a puzzle show up. And it’s a rather mediocre one at that. (One could call it a callback to the classic puzzles, if one were generously inclined…)

The writing and tempo are great though. Exciting scenes zip by at rollercoaster speed, the descriptions are detailed and evocative, the conversations are very funny indeed.

I enjoyed the ride.

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