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About the Story
You are a groundhog who lives in a wizard's magical garden.
5th place overall; Nominee, Scott's Choice Award - Text Adventure Literacy Jam
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Number of Reviews: 5
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I beta tested this game.
In this vorple/inform game with illustrations of plants, you play as a young creature eager to eat every magical plant you can get your hands on.
As per the text adventure literacy jam rules, you are expected to only use 2-word inputs and have simple language.
Caleb is a great author, and this game shares features with his earlier work, Starry Seeksorrow. It is intended for kids, but I enjoyed the puzzles, and I especially appreciated that solving them all is not necessary for winning. When I beta tested, I missed a couple the first time around.
Somewhere between the time I tested and the time it got put up on itch, the vorple framework seemed to get weird (maybe from itch interactions?), so that each image only shows up halfway until more text appears underneath it (such as when hitting enter).
It's a simple game, but I'm giving it a 5 as I found it polished, descriptive, enjoyed the interactivity, felt an enjoyable emotional impact, and would play again (and did play again!)
The Blue Lettuce was the only Inform game in the Text Adventure Literacy Jam, but it doesn't feel out of place, and its quality reflects the jam's general quality. It's a game about a groundhog who is looking forward to eating some magical blue lettuce. The puzzles are sensible, mainly about jumping around, and the prose is good. The way through is pretty clearly lit for those who just want to win, but I wasn't surprised there was more.
You'll probably miss a vegetable or two the first time through. The trickiest one for me to find on replay was (Spoiler - click to show)one that can actually vanish before you eat it. The puzzles are simple, in keeping with the jam's aims, and there's good variety in them. You'll never have to do anything radical.
I also like the responses to eating stuff you don't like, which rounds things out nicely. There's nothing crazy, but it all makes sense. Like I wouldn't expect the groundhog to enjoy grass, and they didn't. Between that and helpfully nudging you when you type in a wrong direction, It certainly goes along with the tutorial spirit of the competition. There's a crane as an NPC and a constant reference to the wizard who tends this area of odd vegetables, and that's nice to have, without forcing you into any tangled mythologies or complicated relationships.
Even though this game seems relatively simple, it had a few in-plain-sight points I didn’t see when I just plowed through the first time, because I wanted to get through all the comp games. I didn't mind missing things, and I enjoyed coming back later. Someone who sits down and diligently tries to enjoy the game should find everything and have fun in the process. It’s also neat that you can get the lettuce and not eat it right away to try everything, and the blue lettuce itself is a neat goal: obviously magical, but not too silly. It reminded me how I liked blue raspberry gelatin or blue ice cream or weird blue candy or bubble gum a lot as a kid, maybe because it was a slightly unnatural color, and I convinced myself it tasted exotic even if it didn’t really.
You're a hungry groundhog looking for things to eat in a garden. This is Inform, not Adventuron, so the visual presentation is a bit different than other games in the Text Adventure Literacy Jam: (nicely drawn) pictures show up in-line rather than having their own window, for instance. It plays a little like a junior Eat Me: score a point for each thing you take a bite of (although it never acknowledges when your score goes up?): there are eight things to eat, but you can finish the game just by bee-lining straight to the blue lettuce if you want. The game seems to be targeting the youngest age-range of all the games in the competition, with all the anthropomorphic flora and fauna, hence the lack of any tricky challenges. Not sure how horticulturally accurate all these plants are, but perfectly cromulent entertainment all the same.
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