Number of Reviews: 4
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Yes/No adventuring with versatility and flexibility, October 22, 2012
Back before Choose Your Own Adventure got tiresome for me, I still wondered. Why wasn't there more where what you did before affected the choices you could make? Without cheating? I think there were a few examples--one CYoA asked if you had talked to a weird guy who gave you a clue, with a better ending if you did. It couldn't track game states without being spoiler-ish.
The Ascot takes advantage of this in many ways, both to slip in a few jokes and provide different endings. The humor's pretty off the wall, from the not-so-subtle railroading (there're several riffs on the But Thou Must trope) where you pretty much have to take the Ascot, to making sure you only type YES or NO, to forcing you along to a park or searching where you need to. It's rather fun to be heckled by the good-natured parser, and I enjoyed trying to be stupid. The side paths don't take too long, although you do get stuck if you (Spoiler - click to show)utterly ignore others' help.
What characters there are, are good. Gertie, your friend, is a good agent for moving the game along, and the beast you fight at the end is silly and fearsome.
But just a string of jokes wouldn't be enough. The author took huge risk (Spoiler - click to show)including the "decent" ending and not the best one in his walkthrough and, in fact, not showing us the best way through. This almost surely cost him a couple places in the standings. However, knowing what I know, it was a pleasure to work things out, and as someone who played the game after the comp, I'm glad he made this choice. Other reviewers have alluded to this, but really, figuring out what to 'really' do is clever. I think it's adequately hinted that you need to do something, and the sheer lack of options makes it frustrating you don't quite know what you do. Until you figured it out.
I giggled stupidly after finding what to do, and the final puzzle is a delightfully annoying brain teaser, consistent with the game's friendly needling. This game packs a lot of fun into a short amount of time, and it leaves me hoping there are other games out there. It's clearer than many other multiple choice games, and it offers an example of how restricting choices can make for a tighter puzzle. I am sure there are other ways to do it, and I hope to see them.