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

A Thing of Wretchedness by Akheon

TLDR: Unsettling, claustrophobic puzzler with horror elements.

Gamemechanical notes: Parser based. Multiple endings based on player choices. As mentioned below, I had some trouble with one of the endings.

[ + ]

  • Well-developed creepy atmosphere. The player character is dealing with an unsettling situation, it feels very horror movie.

  • Good use of environmental storytelling. Making the player piece together what is going on from examining objects in the setting was very effective an building my curiosity.

  • Generally well-implemented objects, etc. When I wanted to use an x to y I didn’t generally have any issues conveying that.

[ Δ ]

  • I would have felt more satisfied if I had gotten a more clear answer to what was going on in the house. I played through one ending and still didn’t really feel I knew what had happened.. My (extremely tentative) theory was that the player character was having a complex grief reaction to the deceased husband’s geriatric dog in the wake of the husband’s death. Sure, the player character seems extremely concerned about some things but hey, grief is weird. (I also toyed with the idea that my husband became the dog, but then I didn’t quite understand the emotional response of the player character?). I think I saw the author give a Word of God answer in the forum, but I didn’t figure it out from playing the game. I take it some people enjoy mysteries that stay mysterious, personally I prefer it when they’re answered. It was effective in building enough interest that I was stalking the forum for answers, though!

  • I checked the walkthrough to get to the end (it wouldn’t have occurred to me that the creature could destroy objects without seeing some evidence of that). I couldn’t get one of the endings to work when I tried it (waiting for the letter to respawn 3x). OK and I freely admit my failure to do the most obvious answer (poisoning) is on me, it just seemed like an overreaction! That might be my beloved pet!