Review: Foo Foo

(This game was a great hit in the 2016 XYZZYs after winning the “First Quadrennial Ryan Veeder Exposition for Good Interactive Fiction”. Personally, I didn’t quite feel it while playing. Good game nonetheless. Foo Foo - Details (

Cheesy dealings…

Once again, your good nature got the better of you. (You are, after all, detective Good Fairy.) You hide Foo Foo, a suspected “bopper”, putting off reporting him to the proper authorities while you investigate the case to your contentment.

Something deeper is brewing here in Fieldtown, and you want to get to the bottom of it…

Foo Foo is a “Fable Noir”. All the characters are animal stand-ins for humans in a tale that’s ultimately a reflection on human society. The animal characters further line up (more or less…) with the classic personages from a noir detective work. The thick-skinned detective with a secret sensitive side, the heel-turn friend, the louche bar owner/mobster. (Strangely, no mysterious dame with a husky voice and one of those slim cigarette pipes in the corner of her mouth…)

The story in its broad outlines, with its recognizable tropes and familiar pacing, follows the beats of a classic noir work to create and sustain the suspense. This makes it rather predictable in oversight.
However, tropes are tools, and the specific story they are used to tell in this instance is a deeply thoughtful one. Social inequality, money trumping law and a personal romantic backstory all come together.

This game has so many positives going for it. Great backstory and worldbuilding. Nuanced story with a shady morality. No problems with implementation, good and sometimes clever puzzles. Great pacing and suspense build-up.

Then why was I left with a nagging feeling of disappointment after playing?

The map.

The structure of the map let me down. Well, the structure of the map ànd the description of the outdoors.

The game takes place on one straight street (alright, there’s one bend…) that feels like a cardboard theatre decor. All the houses and shops that are relevant to the investigation are on the north side of that street. During the game, I kept hearing a tv-show host yelling in my ear: “Let’s see what’s behind door number three!”

(Actually, there is a back alley that becomes relevant later, but by then the tv host had taken up permanent residence in my forebrain.)

Small changes would have made a world of difference to my experience of the game surroundings. A fence and a construction site to block off the south side of the map for instance. Maybe a few streetmice peeping around a corner and a forgotten newspaper on the ground.

Great story, told in a very engaging style. A tad too quiet on the street.