IFComp ’13: A Wind Blown from Paradise

An inauspicious start to the nineteenth annual Interactive Fiction Competition.  N.C. Hunter Hayden says that A Wind Blown from Paradise is his first game, and judging from the criteria it could be worse. But what we’ve got here is slight and unpolished. In the game you wander nearly identical subways either dwelling on or turning away from images of a beach vacation. In doing so, Hayden claims to explore the ramifications of dwelling on the past rather than being present in the moment. It’s all a bit too on the nose and lacking in depth. I feel like the idea would have sat better within the framework of a larger narrative. Being plopped right into and asked to consider the ramifications is just to obvious to be affecting. The overwrought prose doesn’t help either, though I did like the description of sand as a million hot suns.

While the theme is too obvious the necessary actions are anything but. I had to look up the in-game hints before I realized that “dwell” and “turn away” were performable actions, let alone the crux of the game. And then I was under the impression you had to turn away from a vision to return to the subway. When that didn’t work I assumed the game was bugged. It wasn’t until I consulted the walk-through that things became clear. These kind actions should be implied. As it stands the game is just too cryptic, despite its simplicity.

Sorry, N.C., I have a heart, I do. But this game just isn’t up to competition standards. A little more polish and a lot more playtesting could have made it more viable. Also, exchanges like

>get on train
The train isn’t here, idiot.
don’t endear you to the player. I think I understand what you were going for, but it doesn’t match the tone of the rest of your game and comes off as insulting.

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