Inherit! is a three-room game and, I think, a gag game for a minicomp (or more precisely: The First Ever (And Maybe The Only) Interactive Fiction Mini-Compeition)(TFE(AMTO)IFMC). Whew.
The premise seems in part that you are in a buggy game, similar to Undo by Neil deMause. There's nothing very interesting here. I had to read the source code for the solution. I'm not giving this one a star rating because I don't think this was meant as anything other than a joke and example. The only information I was able to find was from the minicomp entry on the wiki, which mentions:
"Authors were asked to submit both games plus their source code, so future IF authors could have example code to look at."
I'd pass on this unless you're specifically looking for inform 6 source code examples.
Discord by Sean Barrett was an entry in Speed-IF -1 so the usual expectations of slight implementation very much apply. It also helps to know that the requirements for that Speed-IF were to "Write a game in which Hank Buzzcrack, Mother Theresa, and/or, T.S. Eliot are involved in a plot to steal any or all of thousands of litres of tea, the golden banana of discord, or a suspended mask."
I was ignorant of the above during my first play-through and felt like the premise was the setup for a joke that never delivers a punch line.
Barrett's take on the requirements was to have the PC interrogate the three characters after their peculiar heist. It was fairly easy to exhaust the conversation tree and thereby win, but I never connected all the dialogue into a coherent story. It may have helped to know something about "Hank Buzzcrack".
Over all it seemed like the ludicrous situation and combination of characters was meant to carry the humor and deliver a few chuckles, but for this reviewer that never happened.
"A Night at the Museum Forever" by Chris Angelini, Forth Place finisher in the TADS division of the 1995 ifcomp, is the stereotype of an early amateur IF work. The entire premise is an excuse for the central puzzle; we find out that you are a professional "troubleshooter" hired by a corporation to recover a diamond ring in an otherwise ransacked museum which apparently can travel through time. There is no attempt to make us care about or understand why the diamond ring is there or why it would be so valuable, all of which is pointless since the solution to the puzzle renders the goal nonsensical. The implementation is paper-thin and the few puzzles are immediately obvious.
The minimal narrative frame is only given lip-service, and in fact at one point the fourth-wall came crashing down in front of me as I tried to examine the time machine and was told that "Its [sic] far beyond your ability to comprehend. Of course, as is typical of these adventure games, that isn't going to stop you from using it, now is it?" The introduction has a list of mysteries that never get answered or mentioned again. Additionally, the entire game has an unmentioned time-limit framed as a hunger puzzle, to which there is no solution. Even though this game is short, I completed it in half an hour, I recommend that all but the most die-hard completionists skip this one.
"The One That Got Away" by Leon Lin, third place winner of the TADS division of the first annual IFcomp, is a quirky little game. What seems to start as an extremely naturalistic fishing simulator turns out to contain an exaggerated love story with a large number of unbelievable elements. The game never takes itself too seriously, but a lot of the humorous elements just seemed a little too gonzo for the relatively restrained tone of a fishing game (such as when I fished a VAX out of the lake). The few puzzles present seem mere tokens, as if they are just expected for the medium, and are so obvious they almost do not count. The game does keep a score, but makes no point of announcing acquired points as they are gained and the end just unceremoniously lists the points without giving rank to the accomplishment. I wonder if there just was not enough precedent in 1995 for a puzzleless, slice-of-life story game. It is worth noting that Andrew Plotkin’s “A Change in the Weather” was an entrant in the same year’s competition. The writing is mostly competent, with some mistakes, and some out-right confusing lines, such as:
The only sign of the hand of man [...]
The line starts like a race horse threatened with milk wagon.
This world-famous fishing hole is this state's best kept secret.
But I do not mean to imply that the game is bad. For a subject of which I have absolutely no interest, I found it charming, well-implemented, and an extremely short diversion (replaying with no extraneous moves, I completed the game in 24 turns). Modern players may find it a bit shallow and dated, but I found that “The One” was very playable for its age and recommend at least trying it if you are looking for a short diversion.
The fifth sentence of the introduction of “On Optimism” by Tim Lane begins ‘A tear rolled from my eyes’ and we soon find that the protagonist's tears are rolling onto the laminated love letters of his ex. It seems she is no longer writing him back and so, before the first prompt is presented to the player, he decides to kill himself with migraine medicine and alcohol. Textually speaking, the tears do not stop from this point until the ending prompt. I stopped counting the seemingly endless repetitions, but the following is pretty emblematic:
"And there I wept as though my tears had never flown, I added to the waters around me through the pumps we call eyes."
The whole game is written in first person, past tense, and that probably works better than being told in second person that “you are crying” or that you hate the ex of your ex. Aesthetically, this was the game’s only good decision.
This is important because for me, at least, “On Optimism” fails entirely for aesthetic reasons. I found few overt typing or spelling errors (though plenty of clumsy phrasing, mismatching numbers and tense problems), I encountered only one bug, near the end of the game, which does not effect your ability to complete it, and in fact most people probably wouldn’t notice or encounter during a normal play-through. So in many regards it would appear that Mr. Lane did all the right things: he had beta testers, he clearly spent some time putting everything together and making things work.
But it does not work. The PC is practically a cipher except for the fact that he feels quite sorry for himself and he seems to at once worship his former girlfriend as perfect, while in the same scene he is examining physical embodiments of her flaws and lamenting them (despite this she is hardly characterized any better or with more specificity). There is no indication that the protagonist is intentionally written this way to make a point or illustrate a real character, or that the work intends to be anything more than an emotive description of a breakup. I would not recommend playing this one.
I really liked this one. It had flaws typical of a lot of speed-IF... minimal implementation, extremely linear progression and some under-clued actions, but the vivacious writing and bitter narrator add a lot of flavor. The game, a morbid and angry reflection of a break-up set at some unidentified point in the future after mars has been colonized, is full of black humor. The text makes it clear pretty early on that the actions are being narrated by someone other than the PC, which leads to some interesting moments, such as when you input
> examine you
to examine the narrator. The game is perhaps excessively verbose, but the quality of the writing keeps the extended passages from becoming too tedious. By the end of the game though I was pretty tired of the unrelenting resentment of the narrator.
Overall it's worth playing, it is extremely short and the pastiche of exaggerated tones and genres make a surprisingly rich texture, even if the end result is a bit jarring. If nothing else, the quotes preceding the game a worth are brief chuckle.
I never understood how "Winter Wonderland" got first place in '99. For a puzzle-piece it does have it's charm, and it is very well implemented, but I found the map flat, and mostly just unsatisfying, the character interactions were shallow and grating. The treacle story and prose have been commented on in other reviews, and indeed, it only exasperated my distaste for this one.
This might be of interest to puzzle aficionados and children, but probably too difficult for the latter and bit ordinary for the former.
"Toonesia" by Jacob Weinstein is a parody of the old Warner Brothers cartoons. True to form it includes some of the settings that characterized Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, and Daffy Duck cartoons. It contains appearances from all of the above and a Tasmanian Devil, though all the characters are renamed. Notably, you play Elmer Fuld, captured by Bud Bunny.
This game had it's clever moments and successfully emulated the attitude of the source material and contains some pretty clever puzzles. Unfortunately this game also shows its age with very sparse implementation. I felt like the author passed up a lot of opportunity to write funny room descriptions in the style of Elmer Fudd, but alas, most of what happens in the text of the game is mere reference to the style of the cartoons it's based on.
The map alternates wildly between ecosystems (in one room you're in the forest, in the next, a desert mesa), but this could be accredited to cartoon logic. However most of the Warner Brothers cartoons I watched as a kid would feature one or two of our favorite characters and would keep a fairly consistent setting, maybe switching between the woods and interior of a house, at most. Most of the puzzles existed blatantly outside of the story, just as set pieces.
This game is based on a pretty neat premise with some potential for innovative work, overall though I would've hoped for more. I think most modern players would find it pretty underwhelming.
The most striking feature of "Dreary Lands" is the awful spelling. I can't imagine that it was proof-read even once. Towards the end there is a nearly game-stopping bug, but the game can be completed.
I was going to say quite a bit about the writing, which had some promise, but the following quote from the about text of the game pretty much removes the need to add anything to this review:
"I know this game is not very good; It even disappoints me.
I am not going to release a better version of this game, though."
For a Change has one of the most memorable opening lines in IF, and also one of the most cryptic. The start is disorienting not just in the standard IF sense of being thrown into an unfamiliar world or situation and having to act as a native, but additionally shocked by an unfamiliar language, along the lines of The Gostak.
The game is a puzzle-fest, however it is small and sufficiently clued such that playing without a walkthrough or built-in hints is possible. I found the largely grid-like world map and hollow nature of the world and characterization to be off-putting, but overall the puzzles were satisfying and the game is kept together very neatly. It was just long enough, I don't think the game would have been sustainable for much longer.
Overall I recommend it as a fun diversion, it took me approximately an hour to complete.