Couch of Doom

by Megan Moser and Margaret Moser

2010

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Number of Reviews: 3
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Flailing On the Couch, May 16, 2010
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

The Couch of Doom explores one of those humorous and almost painfully realistic scenarios -- motivating yourself to face the world (in this case, by getting up off of a couch) when you really don't want to. Sounds fun, right? Unfortunately, the fun in this case is mostly window dressing.

The small things first. Some verbs just don't do anything (like READ INVITATION). Some verbs that you'd expect to be there aren't (like PET SHAYS). Purple prose abounds, which is more annoying than usual given that this is a one-room game. It's even more annoying that the game mentions a computer many times, yet it's not accessible, which knocks the realism factor down quite a bit.

All those aren't fatal flaws, though. However, Couch also doesn't tell you when your mood changes, and if mood is roughly equivalent to points (or at least progress), it's important that the player realize the effects of his actions. What if I had done something to knock my status down and didn't realize it? It's unfair to not tell the player about important changes to his world. Yes, I used a masculine pronoun back there, and that's because the sex of the main character is never mentioned directly. You can discover it by interacting with one object, but that's not the point. Games shouldn't hide important information from players!

I might have been able to slog on to the end, but the final and dooming problem was that the game was dreadfully missing clues. The entirety of Couch consists of trying things at random until you find something that makes you feel better; that this could be argued as realistic doesn't mean that it makes for an enjoyable game. Besides, even the most dispirited have an internal dialog that gives them some clue what would lighten their mood. That's wholly absent in Couch.

I understand that the deadline for the Jay Is Games contest was aggressive and that many games didn't have the luxury of beta-testing. That's why the little things aren't the problem here, but the fundamental design issues are. If you have only so much time, then make sure that the design is solid first. The Couch of Doom, at least in its current state, would best be appreciated by puzzle-solvers with patience.