This game is interesting in a couple of key ways, so I'm glad to have experienced it, even if I didn't necessarily love the game itself. This is a 2020 Inform port of a BASIC game from 1984. Aside from one fun narrative twist near the beginning, it's mostly a game of "puzzles for puzzles' sake." The backstory (if any) is not explained, you solve a few puzzles leading to The Final Puzzle, then the game ends suddenly with no epilogue. Essentially, there's no story. But afterward, Gavin Lambert provides some lovely background, including his own very plausible head cannon of the prologue/plot, history of the game, and background on this period of text gaming. I enjoyed the post-game commentary more than the game itself, though you have to have played the game to make the post-game commentary worthwhile.
This game is just fun and kind of (very) dumb, but it has many clever little touches from the author. It could have been a little bit more deeply implemented, but then there are a variety of hilarious (or horrifying) things that the author DID implement that will surprise you. If you're looking for a weird, fun, short game, this is recommended.
Some will find this game disturbing, but I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a surreal game that evokes images of an older, darker time, and deals in the sort of monsters seen in woodcut-illustrated books from the nineteenth century, when fairytales were far more sinister.
The game can be a bit frustrating due to under-implementation... but it was written for Rapidocomp, so that comes with the territory.
I may never have found the ending if I hadn't been playing as part of a group. There are clues to what you're meant to do, contained in text you are 100% likely to encounter in the game. Part of the reason you may struggle to find the solution is that it's ... counterintuitive. But the author definitely gives you the clue or two that you need. If you can hang in there until you figure out the solution on your own, you're more likely to get the full impact of the ending.
If you really can't figure it out, the command you're looking for is (Spoiler - click to show)FEED RAGMAN.
If, after you play the game, you'd like to see the moment when ClubFloyd figured it out, and our reaction, here's the ending, which I feel is worth reading all the way down to the jokes and puns at the end.
It's not the most polished game in the world, but I will always remember the writing and the experience, which is why it gets a 5 from me.
While there are a couple of spots where precise wording in commands can be a little frustrating, this game on the whole is absolutely lovely. It's a small game with straight-forward puzzles that are fun to solve. It contains adorable NPCs, amusing writing, and cute hidden touches. It is clear that it was written by someone who loves nature and the ocean and being in the ocean.
I loved this, but it will not be for everyone (or likely, for many). It is novel, unlike any other game I can recall playing, and had a core dynamic that had an immediate effect on my emotional state, which is always worthy of note. I played it as part of ClubFloyd, and the transcript of our session can be found here.
Had I not played this through to the end, I might have given it a two.
I got through it and from a technical standpoint I'd at best give it a three.
But given how it left me feeling afterward, it definitely gets a 4. Well done.
It was unexpected and very cool to see this game materialize years after the Indigo New Language Speed-IF. It takes less than an hour to play, and is slightly on rails, but it's a fun ride.
Note: This piece of interactive fiction is not for everyone.
Ms. Lojka or: In Despair to Will to Be Oneself is an experience. It's an experience I recommend to those who are up for it. I don't know how much agency I had in directing the outcome of the story — I suspect that I had little to no agency, that this was linear, that the story was being told to me. This would normally be an issue for me, but it wasn't here. Here, the sounds wash over you and the art grabs you (and sometimes surprises you) and you feel a bit like you're in a David Lynch film, and you're never entirely certain if you want to be there... but you can't escape and you can't look away, so you just keep with it.
People are going to remark on the type-writer effect, and probably not in complimentary terms. But the type-writer effect is necessary. It's part of the experience on a couple of fronts, and it wouldn't have the same impact were it not present throughout. So just accept that and accept the author's pacing. Be open to the experience.
Because that's what this is. It's an experience. The art is fantastic and the audio is perfect and the voice is casual enough to feel comfortable with you — especially when it's making you uncomfortable. Even the way linked text is slowly revealed after you've had a moment to digest the words in front of you is artful.
Play this in a dark room, full screen, at night.
I would give this 4.5 stars if I could, but I can't, and 4 stars seems too low. So I'm giving it a 5. On a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 9, based on my interactive fiction rating methods.