Wolfbiter reviews IFComp 2023 (latest: finished with reviews, wrap-up thoughts)

The Vambrace of Destiny by Arthur DiBianca
Playtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes

TLDR: Dungeon crawl? In this extremely cleanly implemented game we ZIP through the dungeon while solving puzzles and recovering fantastical loot.

Gamemechanical notes: A “limited parser” puzzler where pretty much all navigation and gameplay is handled by pressing a single key on the keyboard.

[ + ]

  • This definitely feels like the apotheosis of its genre (not that I wouldn’t love seeing sixty thousand more!). With the tyranny of the return key overthrown, it’s amazing how fast you can blitz across the (actually pretty huge) map and solve puzzles.

  • The whole UI is really optimized to provide a fluid and seamless experience. We get a map (that displays the current location!), we get the option to call up lists of relevant commands / items. I’m such a fan, such joy, such vim.

  • investigrab, my beloved <3 (I just also appreciate this nod to, yeah, it’s that kind of a game, if there’s an item in a room, you’re gonna want to either investigate or take it, let’s cut to the chase)

  • The final boss fight was really cleverly designed. Makes the player learn a bit, but then rewards them with the feeling of acing a final exam

[ Δ ]

  • OK, yes, I am a little bit that person making puppy-dog eyes in the drivethru at Wendy’s like “please can I have a taco supreme” BUT—what if: we had a smidge of character work on top of our delicious puzzle salad? Just the tiniest shaving? What if I could tip my Krotonian pal one of the treasures I found? (My dude earned it for sure.) What if I could have a conversation with the rogue librarian—negotiate a bit? Take their side? Would love anything in this direction.