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About the Story
In the future, robots cater to manís every want and need. That is, unless youíre a lowly line cook like Irene Turnsole. After Irene travels to her late fatherís home, she discovers that her sister has gone missing and nobody is coming to help find her. Turnsole suspects the cultists of The Light of the Future, her own fatherís extreme futurist corporation, but proving it isnít going to be so easy. Irene soon discovers she has just two days to track her sister down before the cultists perform an ominous-sounding ritual. To solve the mystery, Irene must dig into the secrets of her fatherís corporation, a world on the edge of the Singularity, and her family's own painful past Ė all before precious time runs out.
16th Place - 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2019)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Writing a mystery IF game is hard, but rewarding. The hardest thing to handle is the deductive process: will the PC find clues before solving the case, or can the player can deduce the answer on their own? Does the player need to link clues themselves, or do they automatically process them?
This is a good game, but I'm not quite sure it nails that deductive process. In this Twine game, you play as a young woman in a sci-fi future renting out an old detective's office for the night. Your father has died, your sister is missing, and you have to search for her.
You have numerous locations you can go to. You have an NPC companion who can examine things for you. You have an inventory where any item can be used with any background link, giving quadratic complexity. You also can deduce things with your companion, linking concepts with, again, quadratic complexity. Dying alters the game subtly.
All in all, it makes for a rich game. But the state space is so large that it's difficult to know where to proceed next. Do you need to deduce in the middle of the game? Is dying essential? Do items need to be examined by your companion, used on NPCs, or ignored? I found myself frequently turning to the walkthrough.
Storywise, it uses some classic sci-fi tropes (techno-cult, do robots have feelings, etc.), but it executes it well. I felt comfortable with this game. The author says 'hire me' at the end, and I would feel comfortable hiring them for a writing project.
One of the challenges of Twine games is to be more than just an interactive text dump or CYOA. There's nothing wrong with those formats, of course, but I was bred on Infocom and crave deductive reasoning in my text adventures. Black Sheep provides plenty of that and is three-fourths of a great game.
While playing I was reminded of The Longest Journey. Other than some of the sci-fi elements there's not a lot in common between the games, but I couldn't shake the feeling I had that I was in the same world. And believe me that's high praise. This game pulled me in from the start, and when I discovered that I was in a time loop I was extra giddy. Learn-by-dying is a well worn trope for sure, but its beauty is that it grants the player freedom to explore without the anxiety of making (permanent) mistakes. Other tropes played for full effect are the buddy cop (in this case an android) whose dead-pan delivery is quite amusing as well as the monolithic coldness of the bad guys.
Most of the tasks involve fairly logical inventory puzzles, though a couple are a bit obtuse and in one case I had to resort to a walkthrough without guilt. There are also several red herrings that gave the game more depth without being unfair. Otherwise you need to deduce the mystery by essentially combining clues together from your notebook. This is not always satisfying, because as I progressed through the game I deduced the mystery before the character did and before I could go ahead and solve it I had to figure out which clues to combine to get her to realize it.
My only other critique is the ending, which felt rushed. To that point the writing had been rather tight and I was hoping for an epic climax or a satisfying denouement, of which there were neither. Still, a very solid first game by the authors and I hope to see more from them.
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Setting of 2019 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2019 which you think might be worth considering for Best Setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest...
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