Game Review: Doppeljobs (2020, Lei)

Doppeljobs is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be browsed and experienced here.

You are a Doppelganger.  All you have to do is bite someone and, for a limited amount of time, you can assume their appearance and voice.   Having just graduated from the School of Humanity, you’re ready to set up your own business.  For a generous but fair fee, you will assume the identity of anyone who hires you.  If someone has something that they have to do in person that they would rather not do, they can hire you.  You’ll be the one getting fired from their job.  You’ll be the one getting your license renewed.  You’ll be the one sitting through a boring old recital.

You’ll have to be careful, though.  Let anyone catch on that you’re a doppelganger and the job will be ruined.  Plus, each time you take on someone’s appearance, you also take on some of their traits and some of those traits stick around after the job is done.

I really enjoyed Doppeljobs.  It’s a Twine game, in which you go through a series of clients and you can do as good a job or as bad a job as you may want.  There’s a lot of different decisions to be made and almost every choice leads to a different consequence so this is a game that rewards being replayed.  The best part of the game is seeing which traits you pick up from job to job and how that changes who you are after your final job.  The last time I played, I became not only more paranoid but I also learned to sing.

Doppeljobs can be played here, by either your or your doppelganger.

Game Review: BYOD (2020, n-n)

BYOD is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be browsed and played here.

You are a university student who has just been given an internship at a prestigious company.  You don’t know much about what the internship involves, you just know that you’re supposed to show up.  However, when you do show up, the secretary tells you that the person you’re supposed to meet is not there.  What do you do now?

BYOD is described as being a “micro interactive fiction” and that’s certainly the perfect way to put it.  This is a simple game that takes place in one room.  There’s really only one thing that you have to do to get the “okay” ending.  If you can figure out how to use your phone in the game, you’ll be fine.

However, if you want to get the “good” ending, you’ll have to be more observant of that room.  You’ll have to look at everything and put the clues together and eventually, you’ll get your chance to help out the secretary.  It’s all pretty simple but it was still emotionally satisfying to help someone out and get the good ending.

BYOD can be played here.

Game Review: Congee (2020, Becci)

This story is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Comp.  All of the stories can be browsed and experienced here.

You have recently moved from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom, leaving behind both your mother and your culture.  One night, you find yourself suffering from a fever, missing your mom (and the time difference makes it inconvenient to call her), and, worst of all, craving congee.

(From the game: Congee /ˈkɒndʒiː noun  (in Chinese cooking) broth or porridge made from rice. Meat, fish, and flavourings are added while preparing the congee, and it is most often served as a meal on its own, especially for those who are feeling unwell.)

Like a lot of Twine Interactive Fiction, Congee is less of a game and more of a story with choices.  You can click to get more details and to learn more about the world and the lives of the characters in the story but ultimately, the story is the thing.  It’s a good story, though.  Even though it’s written through the eyes of someone who is dealing with a very specific experience, the themes are universal.  It made me homesick in a good way.

Congee can experienced here.

Game Review: Amazing Quest (2020, Nick Montfort)

Sorry for the lack of reviews yesterday.  After spending two weeks watching Witchcraft movies, I had to take a day off.

This game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the games can be browsed and played here.

Amazing Quest is a throwback to the vague but addictive PC games of the 80s.  You are returning from a quest.  What quest?  That’s for you to imagine.  Are you a Viking?  Are you a space explorer?  Are you Odysseus, trying to make your way home after the fall of Troy?  Again, that is all for you to imagine.

Each turn, you get a new situation and a prompt.  You’ve come across a new land.  Do you send gifts?  Do you attack?  Click y or n.  The results are as vague as the situation, leaving it to the player to imagine what it all means.  When you send gifts to a recently discovered land and you get to see the sun rise as a result, is it our sun or some other planet’s sun?  The choice is yours.

Amazing Quest is simple and random but also very addictive.  It’s a game that’s designed to spark your imagination.  Play it and seen what story you create.

Amazing Quest can be played here.

Game Review: Fight Forever (2020, Pako)

Fight Forever is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be browsed and played here.

In this old school, text-based fight simulator, you pick your fighter, you pick your trainer, and then you hope to have a legendary career.  Pick your training regimen.  Decide which fight camp to attend.  Take a chance living your life and seeing what happens.  (The booty call option either works out really well or totally messes you up.)  Toss in a few random intangibles and you’re ready to fight!

I was surprised by how enjoyable Fight Forever turned out to be.  Even though you can’t control what your fighter does in the ring, you can control the training and the strategizing that goes on before he enters that ring and it’s surprisingly satisfying to discover whether or not it paid off.  Make the right decisions and you can move up in the world.  Make the wrong decisions and you’ll probably die after three fights.

According the game’s creator, Fight Forever is stage one in what he hopes to develop into a much more elaborate fighting game.  I hope he continues to develop it because, even incomplete, what he has now is incredibly addictive.

Fight Forever can be played here.

Game Review: The Call of Innsmouth (2020, Tripper McCarthy)

The game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be played here!

You are a private detective, working out of Arkham, Massachusetts.  Arkham is a town that’s notorious for its many mysteries.  The locals say that it is a town that’s been touched by the paranormal but you’re a detective.  You deal with the real world.  When a distraught mother hires you to find her missing son, you think that it will just be a routine case.  Instead, it leads you to the decaying port town of Innsmouth, a place that makes even Arkham look normal!

A prequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Call of Innsmouth has all the elements that you would expect from a Lovecraft game.  There’s a trip to Miskatonic University.  There are references to cults, Cthulhu, and the search for ancient and maddening knowledge.  You can even chose to read the Necronomicon if you’re so inclined.  The game warns you not to read it but ultimately, the choice is yours.  Don’t worry though.  If you go crazy or get sacrificed, you always have the option to go back and make a different and hopefully better decision.  That’s a choice that most Lovecraft heroes don’t get.

I enjoyed this Twine game.  The Cthulhu mythos are always good source material for Interactive Fiction and The Call of Innsmouth does a great job of capturing the atmosphere of one of Lovecraft’s stories.  The Call of Innsmouth is a mystery and a game worth exploring.

It can be played here.

Game Review: Academic Pursuits (as opposed to regular pursuits) (2020, ruqiyah)

This game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be browsed and played here.

You have just received a position in a prestigious university’s architecture department.  As was mentioned in your acceptance letter, it’s a role that you can “sink your teeth into.”  You’ve just arrived at your office, which is pretty bare.  Someone even took the curtains and the chair.  You’ve got plans for your new job and one colleague in particular but before you can worry about any of that, it’s time unpack.

Academic Pursuits in a moving-in sim, where the challenge is to not only find an appropriate place for all of your things but also to give your office the right feel.  Will you make you office feel academic or will you make it feel ominous?  While you’re unpacking, you can also examine each object and, even more importantly, think about each object.  Gradually, your backstory and your reasons for taking the position will be revealed.  Let’s just say that you’re more than just an academic looking to enlighten young minds.  How you decorate your office and what you decide to keep will also determine the future of both your career and your relationship/rivalry with another professor.

Academic Pursuits a simple but satisfying game.  I especially liked the way that the office changed depending on what you threw away and what you actually put on display.  Because there’s so many different ways to unpack (and yes, you do have the option to throw almost everything away), this is a game that can be played and replayed several times.

You can play it here.

Game Review: The Cave (2020, Neil Aitkin)

The Cave is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All the of the entries can be played here.

You are an adventurer who wakes up to discover that you are surrounded by darkness.  You’re alone and you’re in a cave.  Can you figure out how to get out?

Like many Interactive Fiction games, The Cave is made up of separate rooms, each one of which has its own unique challenges and rewards.  What sets The Cave apart from other games is that, each time you play, the cave is randomly respawned.  Just because a room is nearby the first time you play, that doesn’t mean that it will still be there the next time you play.  As a result, no matter how many times you play, you’ll always have a different experience.

With each puzzle you solve, you gain knowledge and attributes.  You can’t die in The Cave.  The game is not designed to trick you into losing.  Instead, the goal is to see what type of person (or character) you’ve become once you finally manage to make your way out of the cage.  Will you be clever mage who emerges from the cave with several different spells or will you be the type of fighter who just keeps smashing away until you finally broken free?  Play the game to find out.  As the game puts it, “Who are you really in the dark?”

The Cave can be played here.

Game Review: Standing On The Shoulders of Giants (2020, Illum Eggert)

This game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the entries can be played here.

In this game, the player takes on the role of 17th century scientist Isaac Newton.  Newton has just received a mysterious letter from a woman who he doesn’t know, asking him to come to a cottage.  When Isaac goes to the college, the man of science meets a woman of magic and he soon finds himself in the future (i.e., our present).  Can Isaac solve the puzzles of the modern age and then return to his own time?

Standing On The Shoulders of Giants is a simple work of Interactive Fiction.  It comes with a walk-through but most players shouldn’t need to use it.  The walk-through itself states that the game is designed to be easy and that there’s no way the player can get a bad ending.  This game is less about solving puzzles and more about experimenting and seeing what will happen.  For instance, when you find yourself in the library, take the time to search for a few familiar authors.  You might be surprised with what comes up.

As I said, it’s a simple game.  If you’ve never played an IF game before, this would be a good one to start with.  It’s a likable adventure, especially if you know anything about the works of Newton and Einstein.

The game can be played here.

Game Review: The Shadow In The Snow (2020, Andrew Brown)

The game is an entrant in the 2020 Interactive Fiction Competition.  All of the games can be played here.

You’re in a dicey situation.  You’ve been driving through the middle of the blizzard, simply trying to find your way back to the main road.  After you crash into a snowdrift, your engine dies.  It doesn’t matter how many times you turn the key in the ignition, the car is not going anywhere.  It’s cold.  It’s snowing.  You haven’t seen another car for hours.  What do you do?

You can stay in your car.  I tried that a few times.  I don’t recommend it.

Your only other option is to get out of the car and wander through the wilderness in search of help.  Move in the right direction and you might find a cabin or a motel.  But be aware that you’re not alone in the wilderness.  There’s a shadow in the snow and it’s coming for you.

This Twine game is perfect for Halloween.  The story plays out like a horror movie and I was impressed by the number of ways that I ended up dying.  Right when I thought I had figured out the right way to kill the beast, I discovered that there was more to the monster than I originally considered.  The Shadow in the Snow is an enjoyable challenge and one that makes good use of the Twine format.

You can play it here.