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63rd Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review
This was a small game, showcasing Alien scientists excavating modern human artifacts, and being mildly bewildered by them. It felt like a working prototype in a lot of ways.
It is small, 6 rooms not counting hallways? There are NPCs with limited and unvarying interactions. There are puzzles to solve, interacting with objects the player has (mostly) no issue recognizing, but amusingly befuddle the aliens. They are pretty linear and mostly obvious. It does incorporate state awareness, opening up options naturally as you play through. It is all pretty bare bones though, narratively and graphically.
Graphically, it's not very interesting - the font and color selection have no particular resonance. A lot of sentences and choices are all lower case which is a stylistic choice I assume, but serves no real purpose. Options are stacked vertically, but not ordered so that if an option is not yet available to you it looks like a stray blank line between other options. There is no consistent organization of choices screen to screen - sometimes it is a complete-or-not vertical list, sometimes it is integrated into the descriptions themselves. There are spelling errors, including in the title screen. It incorporates pictures, but incompletely. There is some light humor in the contrast between how the aliens describe the objects, and the academic photo of the actual object. This does bite the game where the object with the most obtuse description does not have a picture like the others. While I guessed at its use, I never did figure out what it was supposed to be.
The text descriptions also left money on the table, as it were. For one, the lab space, hallways and other rooms are described in suspiciously human terms. If there was an alienness to the setting, it would have much better reinforced their bafflement. As such, I kind of pictured Star Trek aliens - one prosthetic but otherwise human - when so much more was possible. There were technical glitches as well - the game did not seem to recognize when you were carrying something and let you pick it up repeatedly. Even your ultimate goal is not well signposted. While its never unclear what needs to be done next, the end screen came as mild “oh I guess that’s it then” surprise.
None of this was fatal, just unpolished. The graphical presentation was unpolished enough that it never really faded from my consciousness, and that feels Intrusive to me. The text could use some rework. The framework is there for a diverting game, just needs a bit more to start Sparking. The introductory text suggests this was a class assignment of some sort. Makes sense - as a time-constrained assignment its completeness is to its credit. The polish can come later.
Playtime: 20min, finished
Artistic/Technical rankings: Mechanical/Intrusive
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete
Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless
Here was a quick and easy text adventure with a somewhat whimsical feel to it. There are several puzzles and they all have in-game explanations for how to solve them. Unfortunately, some readers will find that too many grammatical errors were left in. I hate bringing this up, but I know there are players who would want to know how pervasive they are. The amount of run-on sentences alone will be too much for some, as they occur in nearly every paragraph. At one point, the author spells the name of the main character differently for several lines. I appreciated the information included on the credits page, but the impression I was left with was that this entry was written quickly and that no edits were done.
This is a brief Twine game that has some complex parts to it. You play as a alien technician or researcher working in a lab with a professor, going through a pile of human artifacts and trying to figure out what they're for. It's kind of like Little Mermaid, when Scuttle tries to guess what human artifacts are used for.
The game is a little unpolished; I found several typos and capitalization errors. It's pretty descriptive though, and it's funny when it shows the items it's been describing. The author does a pretty good job of thinking of objects from an alien point of view, but sometimes it's too on the nose (for instance, some human keys are described as possibly a physical form of an encryption key).
The puzzles can be pretty interesting (a color one threw me for a loop), but some segments that seem like they should be puzzles actually are taken care of as cut scenes.
Overall, I found it generally amusing, but didn't feel a strong desire to play again.