Kidney Kwest

by Eric Zinda and Luka Marceta

2021

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Number of Reviews: 4
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Assemble a Halloween costume while learning about phosphate binders, October 2, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game is an educational game about kidneys made for kids using a custom engine that reads full sentences.

The game itself has multiple endings; I finished after only examining 3 rooms out of 5 in the main hub.

A magical fairy is helping you get a Halloween costume by transforming whatever you pick up into costume parts. Meanwhile, you get hungry, and eating requires you to take phosphate binders due to your kidney problems. This opens up a minigame where you have to hunt for phosphate crystals.

Throughout IF history there have been at least two different threads: one using text to provide a realistic simulation of the world (including Emily Short and her physics games), and those pushing for abstraction and ease of use (including Ryan Veeder who provides a lot of subtle affordances to make gameplay smoother). Most people authors use a mix of the two.

Abstraction and ease pushed to its extreme leads to dynamic fiction, where there are few choices besides 'next page'. And realistic simulation pushed too far leads to hunger timers, inventory limits, and an insistence on proper grammar, all of which this game has. It's a stylistic choice that some are fond of, but I don't really enjoy my character getting more and more hungry as I go back and forth between rooms because my character can only hold two objects. The engine is also slow between responses, so it can be a bit frustrating.

I found the educational part fascinating and didn't know the kidneys had anything to do with phosphate. Also, this game is specifically designed for kids unfamiliar with IF tropes, so I'm specifically not the target audience. And a lot of the things I found off putting could be fun for kids; discovering the game character actually responds like a real person with needs and limited capacity is something fun about text adventures when you're new (at least it was for me).

Overall:
+Polish: It worked smoothly.
-Descriptiveness: The game felt kind of bare at times.
-Interactivity: The game felt a bit too fiddly for me at time.
+Emotional impact: I love the idea of making a game for kids and the phosphate thing was cool.
+Would I play again? I don't really feel like it, but I only found one costume and there were many rooms I missed, and I'd like to support this idea of making games for health purpose (kind of like Gavin Inglis's game about self-abuse).