You are SpamZapper 3.1

by Leon Arnott


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Number of Reviews: 11
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Life on the internet, November 24, 2021
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2021

This game is incredible. It almost invokes the same kind of energy that playing SPY INTRIGUE for the first time did. It doesn’t quite reach those heights for me, but it’s still an amazing experience. It’s also a more straightforward, less player-hostile experience.

The author is the creator of the Harlowe format for Twine, and this game makes very good use of twine as a medium. It uses various styles and visual effects extensively, and overall the interface looks beautiful. There are lots of click to advance segments, but that was okay; the story was well written and I enjoyed it. I played it on mobile and was engrossed for all two hours of playtime.

The premise is a little reminiscent of (Spoiler - click to show)Starbreakers from this comp which might be a spoiler for both games. The use of philosophy in this game reminded me of Universal Hologram (not necessarily any specific bits of worldbuilding, just the way philosophical concepts are deployed).

The plot and writing are great. I love how the world is gradually built up and characters and concepts are introduced. The emails are excellent as a vehicle for characterization; I just like epistolary stories I guess. The spam emails are funny and better written than they have any right to be, and I like the little details and nods to real internet culture (that REPLY ALL thread. people clicking on links that are obviously viruses. spoofing sender fields in emails). The game mechanic of zap or approve is nice; I like returning to the mundane after the deep philosophical segments about the nature of consciousness.

If I have any complaint, it’s that parts of it stretched on for too long. There were just so many words, and the midgame (after Laurie’s problem has been revealed) had too much drudgery. I enjoyed discovering new concepts more than I did trying to recall some piece of spam I read an hour ago. After some time, I didn’t find the long conversations between the programs very interesting, so I clicked quickly and skimmed through. Some of their quirks started to grate on me after hours of playing.

But I’m just looking for things to criticize at this point. This game is one of my favorites of IFComp 2021.

There are quite a number of games in IFComp 2021 that have stories within stories and broadly deal with online “fandom” topics: SpamZapper, A Paradox Between Worlds (my own game), extraordinary_fandoms.exe, The Dead Account, maybe even And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One. 2021 is truly the year of the Online in IFComp.

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