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Eat the Eldritch.zip
Contains Eat the Eldritch/Eat the Eldritch IFcomp23/Eat the Eldritch.gblorb
ZIP file contains game, game manual (general information, followed by marked spoilers), and Star Ocean mp3.
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)
Walkthrough and map
by David Welbourn

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Eat the Eldritch

by Olaf Nowacki profile

Horredy
2023

(based on 11 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

Everybody's got a hungry something.

You are Jun Do, captain on the fish processing ship Tataki. Your crew is not only new to you, they are also quite strange. And your destination is Point Nemo, the furthest place on earth from any coast...

The song "Star Ocean" by Rainer Torres is included in the game - courtesy of the artist.

Content warning: This game is not suitable for children and has creepy elements. There is some violence and alcohol consumption.


Game Details


Awards

18th Place - tie - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

Winner, Outstanding Horror Game of 2023 - The 2023 IFDB Awards

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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
It's beginning to look a lot like fish men, November 30, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

Well, it’s finally happened. Even a casual perusal of this year’s Comp roster reveals that games with boats are way, way overrepresented, and I for one couldn’t be happier – big boats, little boats, sail boats, paddle-wheelers, motorboats, house boats, inflatable boats; yawls, yachts, ketches, clippers, men o’ war, brigantines, sloops, catamarans, schooners, container ships, dinghies, triremes, hovercraft, barges, scows; even airships, zeppelins, sauce boats – I love ‘em all, and I’m excited to finally be able to embark (eh? Eh?) on the nautical portion of my Comp explorations.

Eat the Eldritch is a great way to inaugurate the trend, too, because it’s both very boat-y (the whole thing takes place on board a giant fishing boat) and very good, leavening an effective Lovecraftian vibe with good-natured gross-out humor and some satisfying parser puzzling – call it The Terrible Old Man and the Sea. You play the captain, who’s had a bad run of luck that means he hasn’t managed to catch any fish to feed into the floating fish-stick-making plant belowdecks; you’ll get right on that, as soon as you get the suspicious “Rudolf Carter” fellow you just hired on as cook to fix you some lunch… As that potted summary as well as the title suggest, Eat the Eldritch presents a horror of consumption, where everything exists to eat and be eaten, with the latter stages of the game containing revolting, stomach-churning images by the score.

This would be a little much for my poor vegetarian self, but fortunately, the game’s also wickedly funny, and the occasional chortle really helps the offal go down. Here’s a bit of the description of the aforementioned cook, focusing on his fingers:

They are thick and swollen and their skin looks like brittle scabs. The comparison may be disgusting, but they actually look like fried fish sticks and when he uses them, you’re afraid they’ll crumble.

It’s a ridiculous image, but very gross, and works very well. The game does swerve into more straightforward horror territory from time to time – the description of the inevitable Cthulhoid monstrosity is a uniquely messed-up phantasmagoria, and there’s a lovely disorienting bit where you see some ceiling-lamps swaying with the waves, and you imagine yourself upside-down and underwater, looking down at colossal sea-grasses. But there are also some extended jaunts of wackiness, maintaining the overall balance and keeping proceedings from getting too grim.

Eat the Eldritch is also impressively balanced when it comes to gameplay. It uses shipboard directions for verisimilitude, for example, but smartly keeps the size of each individual deck small, and provides handy ASCII-art maps for each, so these aren’t as disorienting as they can sometimes be. There are also regular prods towards your immediate goal to keep you on track, and a handy THINK verb in case you need a reminder (though attempting to THINK in a particular extra-dimensional space threw off a run-time error). And the downloadable version of the game comes with a nicely put-together Infocom-style manual that should make this easy for folks newer to parser games to get into. Oh, and while there is definitely peril of both the physical and existential varieties, Eat the Eldritch will politely rewind if you reach a bad end, taking the sting out of failure (you’ll also often get an optional achievement for your trouble – I though I was pretty thorough, but I only got about a dozen of the 27 on offer!)

The puzzles are similarly player friendly; there’s nothing too head-scratching here, but they’re satisfying to solve, especially the climactic set piece, which had me giggling and gaggling in equal measure. But beyond its visceral appeal, it’s a clever bit of design – it’s got multiple steps and requires some clever leaps of logic, but it’s all quite well clued and I was able to put all the pieces together without any hints. There is one potentially misleading reference that could lead folks less-familiar with maritime matters astray – protip, if you’re ever in a major storm, you emphatically do not want to go perpendicular to the waves, you want to steer your bow directly into them – but other than that, they’re uniformly well-clued.

It’s a real pleasure to come upon something as horribly lovely as Eat the Eldritch; as I said, I may be slightly partial to maritime tales, but this one floats on its own ballast, and sets a high-water mark for the other games in the Comp.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Nautical cosmic horror game, with snacks, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

I opened this game and I was poking around and thought, ‘Man, this really feels familiar. Where have I seen this before? Did I test this?’

Then I checked, and I realized that I had played it in the German Grand Prix as Fischstäbchen! I really enjoyed that game, so it was fun to see the translation here (something which has only happened recently since rule changes allowing translations of games).

This is a fairly hefty but manageable parser game about exploring a fishing boat in Point Nemo, the point on earth furthest from land. Things don’t seem quite normal; your crew won’t come out of their rooms and your cook spends a lot of time chanting out of ancient books and being surrounded by freezing mist…

I loved the German version of this game, especially since it had a built-in help menu to list all verbs that you need to finish, something that worked really well for me as a noob. This version seems like slightly different compared to the old one; it has some puzzles I don’t remember, and some features like highlighting of exits, which I like.

On the other hand, seeing it in my native tongue makes it easier to be judgmental. For instance, several times, there were ‘double directions’ like saying something is ‘down’ but you access it to the ‘west’. Even though both ‘down’ and ‘west’ are highlighted, going ‘down’ gives an error. I think it would have worked better to redirect ‘down’ and ‘west’ to work the same way.

The map is pretty intimidating at first. I’d recommend just exploring and mapping the whole thing before anything else as several of the puzzles just involve finding people or things.

I used the hints a couple of times, even for things I did in my last playthrough.

Overall the things I liked last time are still here: the Lovecraftian/dry humour mix and the active and engaging puzzles. I also like the guidance it gives you on some puzzles and the restart method for when you die.

Overall, I think I liked the German version slightly better only because playing in another language presents its own unique challenges and gameplay, but I still enjoyed this one.

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Ia, Ia, Cthulhu F'ishtix, December 22, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

Part 5 of our nautical sub-series “Here There Be Poopdecks.” And its about time we got us some eldritch horror, no? In the Assembly review I alluded to an Elder Gods + X formula, but I didn’t give you the whole thing. Here it is:

Elder Gods + humor + X = PROFIT!!

I guess X here is a fish factory? Hey, the formula does not require that X be High Concept all the time. Don’t complain to me, the math is the math. The game is a lighthearted battle at sea on an underpopulated fish factory. Eat the Eldritch is a delightful wordplay of a title, perfectly matched to the spunky artwork that sets the tone out of the gate. And that tone is its biggest asset. Some favorite quotes:

“You have a screwdriver in your ha… hm… You have a screwdriver, but you have no hands. Whatever.”

After encountering (Spoiler - click to show)an elder beast of epic proportions: “It’s fascinating, you really don’t see that every day.”

I have gotten good at curbing my impulse to just throw lots of stolen funny quotes at you, so I stop here. In addition to pervasive wry humor, there is red meat for Lovecraftics - (Spoiler - click to show)Randolph Carter makes an appearance, as well as an unseen crew from either Arkham or more likely Innsmouth. All in service of that gloomy but somehow also bubbly tone. There is modest puzzle work at play here as well, and for quite a long time things clicked along at a crisp, breezy pace. The puzzles were up and down the fiddly/clever scale, as well as the story-organic/puzzle-for-puzzle-sake scale, but reasonably well clued so it moved.

The biggest flaw though is the climactic puzzle. Somehow, here the nudging signposting ran out, and you were foiled repeatedly by specific word and sequence requirements. There is a special kind of ire reserved for a puzzle where you have assembled all the component parts, deduced a clever way to employ them, then spend 30min failing to get the game to accept it. Shrugging, you resign yourself to checking the hints (which, sidebar, I really liked the backwards text format to prevent glimpsing unwanted information. not sure how that plays for accessibility but worked for me) to see where you have gone astray AND THEY TELL YOU TO DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU’VE BEEN STRUGGLING TO DO.

THEN YOU SPEND ANOTHER 15min TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK. Yes, I spent more than a third of my playtime on one puzzle. A puzzle I had a fair idea what needed doing. I did manage to finally get it, finessing a sequence nuance the hint fails to mention, but time ran out and I could not complete the game. So for something this fizzy and light, how do I justify that much time on one puzzle? Is it me? Did I get hung up on a fatal blind spot? Maybe, probably. As a judge am I empowered to take it out on the game? I mean yeah, if my experience was frustration, how do I NOT? I will justify that decision by saying that somehow the cluing text, crucially including failure text, that had serviced so well to that point suddenly abandoned me. Simultaneously the forgiving puzzle flow suddenly became super finicky about position and timing. It was a recipe for getting it wrong with no help identifying WHY. If you make finicky puzzles, provide the player failure feedback, that’s MY hint. If not the puzzle mechanics, then at least if you provide hints, ensure you provide COMPLETE hints.

But. The fact that I was so mad about it is a clue how Engaged I was with the story. It is not heavy, nor revolutionary. It is wry and playful and a very fun hang kind of game, where you agree with the author to just do some IF Lovecraftian clowning. Then drink some sake.

Played: 10/10/23
Playtime: 2hrs, not finished, score 45/55
Artistic/Technical ratings: Engaging, Notably Buggy error messages and infuriating final puzzle
Would Play After Comp?: No, will finish after locking review and score, then experience will be complete


Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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Eat the Eldritch on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Eat the Eldritch appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Eldritch Apprehension by Walter Sandsquish
The weird environments, monstrosities, and existential dread of cosmic horror lend themselves to text, and so text-adventure games have played with the fear of the unknowable from the beginning of the genre. Here are some of the better...

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On Sunday, October 29, 2023, I published new walkthroughs for the games and stories listed below! Some of these were paid for by my wonderful patrons at Patreon. Please consider supporting me to make even more new walkthroughs for works...

Polls

The following polls include votes for Eat the Eldritch:

Outstanding Horror Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best horror game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Suggested...

Outstanding Humor Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best humor game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Suggested...




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