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The Hose

by Anonymous


(based on 4 ratings)
1 review

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Flunky for 14 1/2 years. Saboteur for one night., April 8, 2010

One of four entries for Speed IF 12, The Hose was produced by formerly prolific author Peter Berman in 2000, his most productive year (at least in terms of works released). Challenged by a premise in which the narrator must prepare a special surprise in honor of the undefined Chuck Schmendiman, Mr. Berman crafted a short tale featuring frustration, revenge, and beautiful flanges.

Although the opening text seems somewhat drab, Mr. Berman's prose quickly starts sketching a believable universe. Some of the techniques he uses are instructive. For example, he immediately presents the reader with the challenge of understanding "extemporous hose technology" -- the secret to Schmendiman's success and the focus of the narrator's career. Also, by repeatedly mangling the name of Schmendiman in a vaguely derogatory manner (Schmendrick, Schmindleman, etc.), he subtly establishes the players distaste for his employer (and the task at hand) without being required to justify the emotion. In the description of the main item, he establishes the narrator's dissonant admiration for the products of Schmendiman's genius. It's a remarkable job of mood-building in a few dozen paragraphs.

However, this piece slips into two-star territory due to the lack of coherence in the central puzzle. The unusual dream imagery brought to mind the technique used in Planetfall, in which the dream sequence is a metaphor providing hints for the major puzzles encountered by the player, but this was apparently not the purpose of it.(Spoiler - click to show) Instead, it is a timed guess-the-verb challenge, during which you must perform an optional action to gain an "insight" that will advance the plot. The player need not do anything after waking up to see the plot advance, which happens in a way not credibly related to the dream action. The dream imagery seems to have been chosen solely to meet one of the "bonus" items in the speed IF premise.

The end sequence is abrupt, and the narrator's success seems out of proportion with the level of dislike established beforehand.(Spoiler - click to show) I would expect more dramatic tension than non-specific job dissatisfaction to motivate blowing up the whole lab! Better puzzle design and a little more editing would have gone a long way here.

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