IF Comp ’12: Spiral, Kicker, The Lift, Last Minute

And so we enter the last days of the Competition, where I kick myself for ignoring it for the past few weeks and try to finish as many of the remaining games as possible. Spoilers follow.


Spiral: I was on board with this one up until the last act. The premise was intriguing at first. This was when I was under the impression that the carriage was the real world and the dreams were just dreams. I liked the gamey parts of the story, solving the puzzles and finding the coupons. The dreamscapes were well realized and evocative and I enjoyed piecing together their meaning with the character’s backstory. Then you enter the wrecked train and things start to fall apart. The prose really started to get overwrought and I found myself skipping large portions. The goal was unclear, I didn’t want to move forward with Ross while I still had pages to find. Suddenly we find that Ross’s memories were incorrect and he didn’t defuse the bomb and so the game takes a metaphysical or allegorical tone. It had plenty of this before, but I donno, I felt like it kept it within the bounds of tolerance. This shift is made worse when its revealed that the carriage is part of afterlife as a sort of purgatory or something. And so the wasps and the vents become “symbols” and in doing so lose the quality that hooked me in the first place. Except maybe not! The good ending I got revealed that the carriage was one of many buried underground and man nothing’s explained it’s all stupid and blegh just everything after the collecting bit left a bad taste in my mouth. Still, I was engaged up to that point and I liked the writing for the wasp.
Kicker: Nerd not understand football rahhh don’t like game grrrr why sports in IF!!!! Nah, I thought the game was pretty cool, if one-note. I’m impressed by the coding. Creating randomized procedural football matches in IF is no small feet. I liked how the game played off of the stereotype of Kickers as lame necessities, and that playing against type only resulted in your termination. There were some clever lines and the tone was just right. It’s not more than a diversion and it doesn’t have staying power, but it succeeds at what it set out to do and that’s a touchdown in my book (that’s a football metaphor for you IF nerds).


The Lift: You pick a weapon, you pick a room. If your weapon matches the threat in the room you win. If not you restart. The tone is juvenile and the writing dull but it does contain one of the worst lines I’ve ever seen in IF (“Oh and you don’t remember who you are or why you’re here…”) and that’s worth something.


Last Minute: Maybe this could have worked but the premise is already on thin ice. The author tries their best to spice it up with a manic tone and pithy cutesy one-liners. Neither worked for me and I found the PC exhausting and annoying. And being involved in the creation of shitty games certainly didn’t endure me to them. On the other hand, fail states were provided with an undo link to not break game flow and that was much appreciated.

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