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About the Story
One of the four games in the meta-puzzle for IF Comp 2011. See http://gameshelf.jmac.org/2011/11/cold-iron-my-very-short-if-entry-in-the-comp/ for a short synopsis of the meta-puzzle.
28th Place - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)
Winner, Best Individual Puzzle - 2011 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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The initial setup seemed promising, and I envisioned a game based around secret societies and the playing of complex games. It didn't exactly pan out as I first hoped it would. The opening section hinted at a game more interesting than this one.
Playing Games is easy (i.e., I wouldn't have dreamt of using a walkthrough), and mostly well clued. I had a little trouble with one of the puzzles (Spoiler - click to show)(setting the watch), because it involved performing a general action on an item immediately after mechanically interacting with the item (so you're falsely led to believe that you should mechanically interact with the item in a different way). There was some nice comedic touches, but there really wasn't much descriptively or story-wise to the game. The point of the game was the game boards rendered in ascii art, which was competently done.
I was sort of looking forward to a series of logical solitaire-esque games*, but they were really all just invisible maze puzzles. Perhaps other people find these challenging, but my spatial memory is good enough for them not to pose a challenge. The main benefit of the game was rather that it showed the possibility of rendering game boards visually in an IF game (perhaps that's already been done before, but I haven't seen it). All in all, it seemed to be an amusing if not particularly awe-inspiring game. UNTIL, I learned about the metapuzzle, and then its awesome factor (along with the other three games) ever so slightly went up a notch.
*I have a history of disappointment with logic puzzles that don't turn out to be logic puzzles.
Playing Games is a short fantasy game about an trial of initiation in a semi-secret club. Not much information about the setting is revealed, which is a shame since the writing is quite competent.
There are few puzzles (one of them a little harder - it got me stuck - though in hindsight it was rather obvious), mostly searching the areas carefully does the trick of progressing you further into the game. One puzzle is optional, though its content left me quite baffled. (Spoiler - click to show)(the holly wreath which makes you disappear for completely unknown reasons) In fact, some events that happen in the game are of magical nature, which is one point the description of the setting is unfortunately lacking. In a lesser game, I wouldn't mind, but here I was wishing for greater enlightenment. (Spoiler - click to show)An interesting point is that the initiation ritual was designed to be unsolvable by its in-game creators, but a mysterious NPC helps the player - this is something I really wanted to be explained more.
One thing that makes Playing Games special is the implementation of a "Meong"-like maze minigame (without the "dying" part), which is fortunately auto-solvable (I didn't have the patience to finish the final stage).
In conclusion, Playing Games is a quite playable effort, I would have wished for a bigger, less streamlined game and especially a more detailed setting.
Together with Cold Iron, Last Day of Summer, and The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M, this game was part of a meta-puzzle in IFComp 2011. The idea was that four games would have connections, and by pursuing clues in one, you could open more in the other games.
This game was shorter than Doctor M, but more well-developed than the other two. You play 3 minigames where you have to move stones about a maze. It's a fun use of z-machine displays. There is an option to bypass the puzzles, intended for screen readers, but they form the bulk of the display.