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Xen: The Contest

by Ian Shlasko

Collegiate, Science Fiction

(based on 5 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

You are John Richardson, an average college student with an average life. Little do you know that forces beyond your comprehension have a plan for your immediate future.

Game Details


16th Place - 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2005)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

The game has one of the strongest plots in IF-Competition 2005. However, the impact of the game is to a no small degree diminished by a not thorough enough implementation, as well as by repeated driving the player through lengthy sequences of mundane and obvious actions (for instance, in the early stages of the game, the PC has to go to the cafeteria every day, stand there in line, order his food, and pay for it at the cash desk). Still, it has plenty of atmosphere, and the characters are sketched out nicely, although they are - well, underimplemented. I'd like to repeat it - personally for me, the story of Xen: The Contest made up for most game design flaws; still, I'm aware it might be not to everyone's taste.

-- Valentine Kopteltsev


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Number of Reviews: 1
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A lengthy TADS sci-fi novella with sketchy implementation, April 25, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is one of the longest and most plot-intensive games entered into IFComp.

The story is a sort of self-insert fantasy. A college student who is bullied and shy is courted by beautiful women and powerful men due to his latent universe-changing powers. It unfolds over several days, over a week.

Unfortunately, there are two flaws in the implementation and design. First, the author has decided to implement in great detail the most tedious parts of the game. Ordering food takes several steps, repeated daily. Campus contains many non-essential locations, which seem possibly to be based on the author's actual campus. Most of the game consists of opening your backpack, selecting the right book, putting it in your backpack, closing it, marching across campus, sitting in class, waiting, going to the cafeteria, ordering food, swiping your id, sitting, going to your dorm, swiping your id, and entering your room. This is repeated at least five or six times in the game.

The second flaw is that only this path is implemented, and only with the exact walkthrough commands. Attempting to order food without the walkthrough is extremely difficult.

Overall, I was glad I played.

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