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Recursive IF, December 4, 2009
Deadline Enchanter is one of a relatively small set of games that turns the player-parser relationship on its head a bit. Typically, the PC is unaware of your (the playerís) existence, and the parser invisibly takes your commands and transforms them into thoughts that appear to originate from the player characterís mind.
A few games, however, like Deadline Enchanter and, a particularly memorable example from the 2008 IFComp, Violet, change the relationship between the player and the player character by giving the parser a personality. In Violet, the PC is the significant other of the titular Violet, and Violet herself is the parser, replying the way the PCís girlfriend would, adding tidbits of information and occasional commentary on the playerís attempts to solve the puzzles.
In Deadline Enchanter, itís even more complicated. The PC in the game is another player of a piece of IF within the game world. The parser in this game is the voice of the person within the game world that wrote the IF game.
Still with me?
Itís terribly surreal at first, playing DE, but as you move through the game it starts to make more sense and you start to understand the rhythm of the game. Through the course of the game, you learn that what has occurred is that the parser, a princess trapped in a tower, has created an IF game as a means of training someone to go through the motions of freeing her. You, the player, is in essence playing someone who has found the game and is playing to figure out how to free the princess.
Itís a pretty ingenious setup in my opinion, but hard to classify and even harder to explain. The game ends up using a few narrative tricks that offer variety to the game play experience, and the ending... well, it gives the player just the slightest hesitation, in a manner designed to create player agency.
In the end, I liked it, and would encourage others to give it a try. Itís actually rather easy, and probably not terribly bad for beginners to IF. I wouldnít go into it expecting this is how most IF goes, though.