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Archive for the ‘IF Comp’ Category

Nightfall, by Eric Eve, won second place in the 2008 IF Competition. I played it twice back to back, which I normally don’t like to do. For Nightfall I didn’t mind, mostly because the two play-throughs were so different.

My first run was very short, lasting under an hour in real time, and an hour and a half in game time. Nightfall is timed, with a visible clock and regular time reminders. One of the impressive features of this game is the method of timing- each turn takes a different amount of time, depending on the task. Reading a street sign takes a shorter amount of time than reading a book, for instance. The time is displayed in hours and minutes, and there is an option to also display seconds.

I didn’t choose to view seconds, but I still felt the need to hurry throughout the game. I discarded my usual meticulous exploring in favor of getting stuff done. This was helped along by the fact that the game world is huge- there are a few dozen places to explore, too many keep track of easily without a map. I wasn’t using outside aids for this run, so I mostly relied on the “go to” command. The player character knows the city far better than the player, so the player can simply type “go to [place name]” and the PC will go there. The “go to” command doesn’t skip over the places between point A and point B, but allows the player to interact with each place or not as they choose and use the command “continue” to keep moving in the right direction. I didn’t go off exploring on my own in this run; rather, I went where the game needed me to go.

It wasn’t hard to tell where my next destination was, especially with the “think” command, which essentially reminded me of what I needed to do next to advance the story. I might be making the game sound easy to the point of being boring, but it isn’t. It’s an enjoyable game, very polished, with some very nicely implemented features. I recommend playing it at least once without much prior knowledge; it’s more fun to figure it out, and there’s no need to get everything the first time through.

If you’d like to read about my second play-through and how very different it was, click the link below.

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Violet

Violet is a very cute game (or, as the author puts it, “distraction”) by Jeremy Freese. It’s polished, inventive, and lighthearted. The puzzles are fun (and involve somewhat unusual objects) and I spent the entirety of the game rooting for the player character.

The main villain of the game is the player character’s tendency towards procrastination; Violet immediately won a special place in my heart for that. The PC is easy to like and emphasize with; the whole game exudes character and likability.

The method of description in the game is almost like an NPC, which is something I’ve never encountered (or even considered) before. It’s possible that some might find the “quirky” tone annoying, but I didn’t mind it. All in all, Violet is a very enjoyable, fun game, one I definitely recommend.

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All Roads

All Roads, an award-winning game by Jon Ingold, is both straightforward and incredibly convoluted.

The gameplay is not too difficult, but not too easy either; I vaguely remember getting stuck on the first puzzle some time ago, when I was very new to IF. I played it through recently, and though I remembered almost nothing about the puzzles, I had little trouble solving them. The game gives the player necessary objects and hints without a lot of excess stuff, so the path through the game is fairly easy to follow. Some events are timed; I missed out on content in one area when I ran out of time. Whether or not the player has all the available information, however, the ending should be fairly easy to reach.

An understanding of the plot is a far more difficult puzzle to solve than any a player will encounter in the game. The plot alone is why I say that All Roads is complex and extremely difficult to understand. Multiple play-throughs are probably necessary for comprehension; the game might be linear, but the plot certainly isn’t. I opted to read an explanation rather than play the game a few times more.

I recommend playing All Roads. It’s enjoyable in of itself, and the revelation of what’s really going on with the plot, whether solved by the player or acquired from another source, adds a completely different way of looking at the game.

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Everybody Dies, by Jim Munroe, is a linear, fairly easy, and short (playable in under two hours) game. It won third place in the IF Competition and received the Best NPCs award from XYZZY News.

Everybody Dies has some interesting features, including the use of graphics to enhance parts of the narrative. I enjoyed the story and would recommend playing it for that, but the game was not particularly satisfying. There were no difficult puzzles, and no way to really mess up.

It is a very short game, which in some ways is too bad- the particular use of the NPCs in this game was too short-lived (hah) to really explore the applications or have fun with it. I completely forgot about it in the final puzzle, which I solved by guessing. I didn’t remember that I could have used the NPCs to help solve it until I read someone’s comment about that.

So, I’d say Everybody Dies is a good game for when you’re more interested in a good story than a tough game- don’t go into it looking for a challenge, or you’ll be disappointed.

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