I have sadly not been able to delve particularly deeply into this year’s Spring Thing due to pressing deadlines at work, but have managed to cram a few games into my schedule. Here follows some short, spoiler-free reviews for the short Inform games present in the competition.
Baggage, by Katherine Farmar
This game is easily breakable, in that certain actions (I’m not sure which ones really) make things behave in obviously unintended ways. For example: Suddenly you both have and not have a thing; you can’t examine it because you don’t have it but neither can you take it because you have it. While I did reach an ending, and a happy one at that, I never managed to figure out what to do with the dusty traveller. Note that I’m not looking to be told what to do. I’m looking to try again, whenever Baggage gets released in a new and improved version, because it did intrigue me. It was different, with a verb rarely used in parser IF at its center, something that here reveals a lovingly conceived artistic idea, a somewhat underused way of approaching parser IF, and a commendable attempt at an emotional connection with the player.
Mean Mother Trucker, by Bitter Karella
The most professional of the bunch, Mean Mother Trucker combines helpfully clued puzzles with a fun story and a vivid enviroment. It is quite a bit lacking in polish, with several mentioned nouns not being implemented, but still it shines through that at its core lies a very solid game, crafted by a skilled storyteller with a penchant for puzzles.
So I Was Short Of Cash And Took On A Quest, by Anssi Raisanen
A fun puzzler that cleverly confuses, but only a bit, this game provided me with plenty of chuckles and smiles. The quest felt quite exciting, having been dropped in medias res with not a clue as to what was going on. It is rather constrained and linear, and perhaps a bit too easy, but more than fun enough to forgive all of that. A few peaks through the fourth wall tops off the enjoyment and tells me the author had almost as fun writing it.
Take the Dog Out, by Ell
A seemingly simple task set in a limited, homely setting, with a few obstacles along the way, is a great premise for a first game in Inform, and Ell has done it well. A lot of good responses have been implemented to most of the reasonable actions you can take. Short, simple and fun!
I’m also very much looking forward to playing The Weight of a Soul!