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Dead Man's Party
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Dead Man's Party

by Royce Odle (as Morrissey)

Humor, Supernatural

(based on 3 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

You are Kevin Thantos, probationary reaper on your first solo assignment.

Game Details


Entrant - ShuffleComp 2014


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A Pratchetty vignette about tying up details of an untimely death, September 5, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: ShuffleComp

DMP was the author's first full-length game (he had written two Speed-IFs before, one for Pax East 2010, where, if memory serves, the Infocom Implementors talked about their experiences in detail, figuring that was probably the best time to do so.) And I tested it, and while I usually don't review things I tested, this is different. First, nine years later, it has no reviews ... and second, I was looking forward to the author writing something new. They were longtime IFMud regulars, and like all regulars who just liked to play text adventures, they eventually considered stepping into writing one. Some went on to make it a habit.

I think IFMud must've had a testing exchange program, but however we got in contact, I enjoyed working slowly through more of the game. It's not a huge one, but there's enough in there that things can go wrong without testing, and they did. I bugged Royce a lot. I worried I bugged him too much. I worried I missed stuff. I hope I told him he wrote something well worth writing and playing. I certainly enjoyed it nine years later.

The title clues what DMP is about: namely, someone has died at a party. You've already done the whole dying thing. Maybe not at a party, but still, you're glad you got called in to be a junior Reaper. Hey, it beat sitting in a grave for all eternity! And this is your first solo trip. Nail it, and you may become a full reaper!

Now your character knows what to do to prepare, though you-the-player doesn't. This is handled by a checklist which mentions you have a gauntlet that makes most things easy. This is nice for the game but disturbing as to the actual ramifications--even low-level supernatural beings can change things at will if need be, and even if it doesn't change the world at large, there's a sense that death is extra inevitable.

Following instructions gets you most of what you need, but there's still the matter of the finicky scythe dispenser machine. It's not VERY hard to figure out, but it's enough of a puzzle. Then it's off to Mr. James Phillips's house. Poor chap just took a lightning bolt to the chest, and time's frozen there, but you can communicate with him. It seems like it should be in and out. Use your tools to put him in the spirit jar, and off you go! With everyone frozen in time as you do the honors, it seems there's not much to do.

But wait! James has two small last requests: put his ring and will out on the dresser, to make things easier for his wife. All spirits get the courtesy of last wishes to put certain small things in order. Of course, his wife could find that stuff eventually, but really, he had a pretty unexpected death. So it's the least you can do.

Neither puzzle is especially tricky, though one thing in the note makes amusing sense: you have a lock to open, but it repels your glove, and you may be able to guess why before you open it.

Replaying DMP, it felt very smooth. I enjoyed the jokes along the way, and when I got to the end, I noted in the AMUSING section there were other things I could have done with the glove. DMP was short enough I was glad to go back through and play it. I like it a lot, and I'd like to think it just missed the "commended" level for ShuffleComp, although the vote totals were anonymized. I don't know which it would have replaced. And yet looking back, the author's game writing career seems to have ended as suddenly as poor James Phillips's life. But who knows? He might be back. I hope so.

One other thing: I remember a Grim Fandango CD I bought and never played. From what I understand, this game wasn't just Pratchett-y, but it also owed a small creative debt to Grim Fandango. Somehow, I couldn't find that CD after playing. Maybe I will find it one day.

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