Deadline Enchanter

by Alan DeNiro profile


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Number of Reviews: 9
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1-9 of 9

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Great Concept, February 20, 2016
by penguincascadia (Puget Sound)

The idea of a game being used as (Spoiler - click to show)a lure and training tool to get people to help you in your cause is a great one. A lot of people have complained about non-implemented objects in the game, but the game is supposed to be that way as a rough product meant to be pushed out quickly within the world of the game (to avoid any spoilers, phasing this very vaguely.) What would be great is making all the default responses fit in the world of the game. I understand that the author was working on doing this for a second release of the game, but sadly it looks like that has fallen to the wayside as he pursues other projects. Hopefully he will take it up again some day!

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A parser experiment in constraint, surrealness, and linear stoytelling, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

Deadline Enchanter was one of the first IF games I played, 5 years ago. I remember that it's bizarre atmosphere and self-awareness really attracted me to IF in general because it showed me what was possible.

You play someone in a magical city that has appeared in Detroit. You've been given a message from the Folk, a magical race, and the message is a parser game. This game has a walkthrough. So you walkthrough.

The beauty of this game is seeing the story unfold and seeing the guts and edges of the parser. The world it paints is beautiful. When it came out, it was very controversial, but since the Twine revolution, I believe this game can be better appreciated. In facta, the author has moved on to Twine, making great games like Solarium.

Like I said, this is one of the games that drew me into IF and established my perceptions of the whole genre, together with Curses! and Not Just An Ordinary Ballerina.

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
What just happened?, October 20, 2011
by Ron Newcomb (Seattle)

Seriously, I've made it to the end of the game, and didn't understand a blessed thing other than the parser is supposed to be someone writing a letter to you. I think. The title leads me to believe that the game is in-jokey, that you have to be familiar with particular other works of interactive fiction to even approach this one.

At least the walkthrough is in-game, so you needn't feel guilty about using it. A lot.

It's a testament to the quality of the writing (and that walkthrough) I made it to the end. The game has a definite voice, almost conversational in its informality, which is refreshing. And it doesn't expect you to inspect the setting a great deal.

I just wish I got an ending that made sense.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
I don't get it, but I still like it., December 26, 2009
by Grey (Italy)

The first thing everyone should know is that this isn't a simple game. It's not even a difficult or strange game. It's probably one of the most perplexing game I've played.

The prose is rich, the puzzles are simple (harder puzzles simply wouldn't work). It's fantasy-like setting, but on the point of view of something clearly alien.

Suggested to anyone who likes strange, surreal IFs. Even if you don't understand everything, there is surely something fascinating under there.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Recursive IF, December 4, 2009
by TempestDash (Cincinnati, Ohio)

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.

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Quite a ride, December 2, 2009
by Divide (Wroclaw, Poland)

One reviewer said you don't play this game, but rather let it play you - and that's exactly what it does. It takes you on a breathtaking ride through a world - what world, exactly? At some point you're no longer sure whether it's really an alien world, or whether perhaps your world is the one that's faux. And when the ride is over, you can't help but look at what's around you a bit differently, if only for a passing moment. That's quite a feat.

Reminded me of Snerg's "Robot" for some reason. Perhaps the feeling of helplessness, both because of being taken on a ride with destination obviously well-defined but just as obviously not known, never fully, to you, and because of being trapped, stuck in substance, unmoving, slowed down, held down, observing but disabled. All in all - a very emotional piece, even if in a totally different sense than you usually mean when you say 'emotional'.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Slippery rails, August 16, 2008

Like All Roads or Rameses, this is a wholly railroaded piece with a cunning excuse for the rails. In this case, said cunning excuse even doubles as a cunning excuse for an implementation so skeletal that the player soon learns that trying anything but the obvious next action will most likely be fruitless. This may sound like an exercise in player frustration, and, although there is of course a 'however' to come, it largely is that. Certainly the sense of claustrophobia induced by turns spent bouncing hard off the edges of the world's constrained domain of definition, combined with a seemingly uninspired setting, mean only the persistent or forewarned are likely to persevere through the opening sections. However - be forewarned. Such persistence will pay off. To an extent. The frustration caused by this nearly command-level railroading does not really wear off, and I do not really mean to excuse it; but the setting and story are more interesting than they at first appear, and the distinctive writing and tricksy presentation may charm a reader willing to submit to its wiles. I would go so pithy as to put it like this: you must not expect to play this game - you must allow it to play you.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
A strange case, February 22, 2008

Deadline Enchanter falls into an unusual category: it is a work I found frustrating, flawed, and incomplete -- one which I nearly didn't finish myself -- but which I nevertheless would recommend more people play.

DE deservedly received mixed reviews and ratings in the IF Competition. The environment is sketchy; many objects are unimplemented and don't respond to investigation; the plot is mysterious and takes some time to unfold; the writing is highly stylized and may annoy or put off some players; and there is very little by way of puzzle, except perhaps for the meta-puzzle of understanding what is going on and why this work is interesting in the first place.

On the other hand, DE also features many strange and memorable images and a genuinely novel setting; it plays new and interesting games with the relationship between the player and the work; it does ultimately have a good reason to be interactive fiction rather than a story on the printed page (however long it may take you to understand this point); and the oddities of writing eventually prove to be part of a strong characterization within the work. What's more, the final state of the work is surprisingly moving and even beautiful, I thought.

So: absolutely not everyone's cup of tea, but a piece well worth exploring, especially for people who are interested in the boundaries of interactive fiction.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Quite, quite nonstandard; won't appeal to everyone, but I liked it, November 21, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Alan DeNiro, ****

I didn't think I was going to like this game when I started playing it, but now I'm extremely glad I gave it a go. I played it over again as soon as I'd finished it the first time, and enjoyed it as much if not more on the second go-round.

A number of reviewers have mentioned the sketchiness of the implementation, and some have suggested this may have been a purposeful choice, or at least one explainable within the world by the narrator having been in an understandable hurry. Now, given the backstory of the game, I have absolutely no problem with most nouns and actions being unimplemented; the problem I had was that when I got a reply from Inform, rather than from my narrator, it was jarring. Something as simple as a comment in the narrator's voice, rather than letting it fall through to the default parser response, would have alleviated this - just something that kept me immersed in the world.

Also, I didn't find the implementation sketchy so much as inconsistent. In some places, examining things brought the reward of another section of the story; in others, it was just pointless and frustrating. I think if the responses stayed in the narrator's voice throughout, it would make players more likely to examine things, rather than just mechanically work through the in-game-provided walkthrough.

And clearly this author can write! One excellent example, after you see the narrator do something that a human would never, ever do: "It hurts, but it also feels like someone is stroking your hair." (Actually, that doesn't look so great in isolation. It's better in context, but I don't want to give spoilers.) Also - "slickening"? Best portmanteau ever.

I thought the ending was disappointing. The random, nonstandard prompts were interesting, but the actual ending (well, endings - two are possible, but both have the same flaw) was generic to the point of meaninglessness. (And yes, I did notice the cues that explained who both the people in the final scene were.)

I want to make it clear that I did like Deadline Enchanter, and I do think it's worth playing; I wouldn't go on about the flaws at such great length if I didn't like it. There were typos, but I actually didn't care, for once. I just really want to have been able to give it five stars, but the inconsistent implementation and the disappointing ending meant I couldn't.

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