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25th Place - 13th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2007)
Rezension zum IF-Comp 2007 (German)
Als Agent irgendeiner Organisation wirst du zu einer merkwürdigen Universität geflogen, wo du "Technologie" wiederbeschaffen und das Verschwinden einiger deiner Kollegen aufklären sollst.
Der Befehl "about" liefert uns folgendes (Zitat): "Reconciling Mother is an interactive science fiction suspense novella about a man of science and action as he comes to grips with the personal horrors of his own past while charting his way through a world controlled by ancient, supernatural beings." Na, wenn das mal keine Qualitätslektüre verspricht! ...
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game is technically finishable, but I don't have a huge desire to finish the game. It's huge, with rooms that frequently are filled with items of uncertain purpose. There are bookcases that are always closed, and when opened are filled with the author's favorite books which he enthusiastically recommends. SPAG errors are everywhere, especially with quoted text.
It's almost like Harmonic Time Bind Ritual Symphony with worse programming. I quit when I went back in time and couldn't come forward in time.
Usually when someone says that a work is "so bad it's good", they mean that though the content is bad, there is pleasure to be derived from seeing just how bad it is. But when it comes to Reconciling Mother, which was ranked 25 out of 27 in IFComp 2007, if someone told me that it was so bad it was good, I would think they were praising it for good elements that have somehow emerged from a lack of good design decisions.
That said, it is hard to play Reconciling Mother for long without getting slapped in the face with indications that some of the work's charming elements were entirely unintentional. For example, despite the apparent randomness of the work's content, I have read that there is a way to win. Other reviewers have complained that the winning ending is underimplented, but I think this work might have worked best if the author had not created winning conditions. (I had this realization while playing another IF work, The Land of Breakfast and Lunch, which I recommend taking a look at if you, like me, are interested in more intentional attempts at evocative surreality.) After reading several reviews of Reconciling Mother, I searched high and low for a download link not to win but to experience some of the heaviness, whimsy, wonder, and weirdness it contains for myself.
I would not blame anyone who gave Reconciling Mother only one star, but the perception that there is something wonderful underlying the work, even if it is only an illusion, compels me to give it two.
(I have updated this review once since I first posted it.)
Just when you think that the salamander is going to climb into the eggnog and begin to frolic, you realize that everything is going to remain all ducks and checkers.
If that sentence did not weird you out than perhaps this game is for you. Reconciling Mother is really odd, but I kept on playing it. In fact, I rather liked it. Unfortunately it is also plagued with so many problems that the most of the time the only thing keeping you going is just to see how strange the next couple of location are going to be.
It starts out at the Miskatonic University (ahhh, good ol' Lovecraft... you know that references to H.P. is a good way to start with me). You think that you are engaging in some sort of cross between "The Thing" and "The Bourne Identity." From there however, everything descends into madness.
Here are some random samplings from the notes I wrote while playing this:
"Miskatonic University? Ahh good, Lovecraft....... Quite a few locations, better make a map.... Should Sub-Niggurath be Shub-Niggurath, I'll have to check... "This Place is more dirty than a Calcutta Brothel" Ha ha ha, that's great. But it is not Lovecraftian...... What is going on with the movies?..... Ask Monica about monkey gets the response "Hmmm, I would like to slap your monkey" Ha ha ha that's great.... Whoah, why am I humping the receptionist?.... Why am I now on a moon in outer space?.... A rabbit hole?.....
And on, and on, and on. I only visited around 70 locations, but according to Merk there are over 150 in the game. Sweet mother of Hector!
The story is like some hyper-fiction created by Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Kuttner, and an Italian pornography script writer.
You know....I liked it.
O.K. Story aside, this is where Reconciling Mother begins to seriously take your crotch and drive the heel of its combat boot into it... over and over and over and over and over again. Most of my notes fall into this category and include gems like these:
"You are in a parking lot. There are no cars here. It is early morning so the sky is still dark. It is cold. Although the lot has been recently plowed, there is about five feet of snow in a field to the East. Someone has dug a cave entrance there. To the North is a tall building with stairs leading up to large columns. To the West is a long, low set building with no windows. Across the Southern street is an old mansion. You see a metal sign here."
>x parking lot
The word “parking” is not necessary in this story.
(If this was an accidental misspelling, you can correct it by typing OOPS followed by the corrected word now. Any time the story points out an unknown word, you can correct a misspelling using OOPS as your next command.)
The word “cave” is not necessary in this story.
The word “building” is not necessary in this story.
The word “stairs” is not necessary in this story.
The word “column” is not necessary in this story.
The word “columns” is not necessary in this story.
The word “mansion” is not necessary in this story.
This happens in every single room. There almost is no interaction at all, except for items that the author intends for you to pick up. (However, I was able to examine the cork board in the hall of the science building. Why? This only made me keep checking everything.)
There were numerous other implementation problems. I can take a "a log entry two." A jar still gives the same description even after I have opened it and removed its contents. There are no quotation marks for speech. I waited for a snake to bite me for over 20 turns but nothing happened. Even after I gave Monica the nipple ring and thrashed her cookies, the item did not disappear from my inventory. (of course this meant that I could give it to her again for another visit to the sausage wallet... if only it were so simple in real life).
At some point I died in a tunnel. The game told me I was dead but the game did not end. I could jump around and look at the stuff that was not implemented in the death room. I had to finally quit the game myself and reload.
I found a bottle of booze but was told that it was not something that could be drank.
All in all, this game was in serious need of something. Not really polish... no, it needed something more fundamental. I think the author barley had a grasp on how to code in TADS. (Some might think he barley had a grasp on reality, but I like that part about him and it is this games saving grace).
I have always liked the way that TADS looks, so of course the game looked fine to me. I do not really remember many typos or spelling problems. (of course I spell so poorly that I might have seen a misspelled word and thought it was correct).
Did I Have Fun:
Actually, I did. Though this game is nearly impossible to play in the traditional sense, there is something that keeps you playing it. I can only akin it to watching something horrific, like a train wreck, where you just can not stop watching. With this game, you just gotta know whats going to happen next. Will there be another dragon? Will there be another slut? I am going back to outer space?
I have to say that I like Reconciling Mother. Despite its flaws, I find it to have a strange charm and think most people should check it out... with the right frame of mind. Unfortunately, its many flaws keep me from giving it a good score.