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Heartfelt tribute misses the mark, January 26, 2017
The idea of a text game inspired by the world of Gary Larson is intriguing. It sounds silly, but this is really a very ambitious mark for a writer to set themselves: anthropomorphic animals acting out pulp genre tropes, wordplay, and morbid exaggerations of cliches have to be patched together into a surreal narrative that still feels coherent. The author would have to mimic the diction of a multitude of hacky narrative styles, describe objectively troubling scenarios in a comical style, and solve the deeper problem of how to translate Larson's signature interaction between graphical and textual humor into an interplay between text and choice.
ANATIDAEPHOBIA, while fun in its own way, does not realize the potential of that premise. The humor is based not on clever pastiche and morbid juxtaposition, but on zany randomness. The motivations and behavior of the various entities the player encounters don't feel like familiar materials transplanted into a goofy setting (as they would in a Larson comic). They're just goofy. The items, too, are merely incongruous, not inventive extensions of ideas or wordplay.
The style of the text often gestures toward pastiche, but does not have convincing control of the diction of the styles it's mocking.
Aside from those stylistic issues, there are some typographical errors and at least one game-breaking bug ((Spoiler - click to show)a certain path through the conversation with the cow traps the game in CYOA mode). Most of the puzzles are quite unforgiving about exact word choice, which is of course a common parser game frustration, but in this case it is exacerbated by the off-the-wall nature of the puzzles and solutions.
- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), January 22, 2017
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