IFComp ’12: Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law by Scott Hammack is exactly what you think it is. Just from the blurb you already know the whole game. You’ve got a mundane task to perform but all sorts of “wacky” coincidences pop up to get in your way. “Ho-ho! Everyday life sure can be crazy when nothing goes right!” Murphy’s Law is the IF version of a terrible clip-art cartoon: bland, obvious, and a waste of time.

The main problem with Murphy’s Law is it’s boring. We know exactly where it’s going and it does nothing to subvert our expectations.  The moment we get that paper cut we’re like “yup.” And it doesn’t do anything interesting with the premise. And the obstacles don’t scale to ridiculous levels. They’re just mundane things and then the protagonist deals. Paper cut? Put on a band-aid. Car won’t start? Jump the battery. Bank robbers show up? Wait for them to leave (if your climax involves typing “z” a whole bunch you’ve got some serious problems). Even in the big twist ending the protagonist just deals. Everything is presented as a bunch of mildly annoying inconveniences and likewise the game is mildly annoying to play through. Worse, we’re forced to go through all the fiddly bits.

>get in car
You can’t get into the closed your station wagon.

>open car
It seems to be locked.

>unlock car
What do you want to unlock your station wagon with?

>keys
You unlock your station wagon.

This sort of thing is inexcusable anymore, and it makes a tedious and boring game more so. I should be grateful that the game was reasonably well implemented and there weren’t any bugs, but if there had been maybe there would have been something interesting about this lifeless entry.

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