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12th Place - 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2009)
The story and atmosphere are great (and that in spite of the fact there are some minor problems with the writing). The game uses a device I'm personally very fond of - gradually melting together two realities. The gameplay, however, probably isn't to everybody's taste, since it's pretty linear and includes long sequences where the player just has to press "z" turn after turn. Puzzles are rather easy and shouldn't be a problem. All in all, Condemned is a huge, incredible improvement in comparison with this author's previous games, and one of the most moving works of IF I've ever encountered altogether. I'm really disappointed it ended up so low in the Comp.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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No, it's not. But it tries very hard to be it.
The genre is similar, a dramatic, plot-driven gameplay, several flashbacks putting the story together with only some puzzles, and lot of text. A LOT.
The problem is that it's very ambitious, and ultimately it falls short.
Plot driven IF works if the plot is very good, and the writing is very good, but here it's needlessly verbose, to the point of being boring.
The game has its moments, it's a pity that they are buried under screens and screens of text. (Spoiler - click to show) The garage is good, and the doll head was genuinely creepy, but the exposition angel at the end really killed the immersion.
Another problem are the "puzzles". I can understand having little or no puzzles, but the problem here is that the plot is ON top of the gameplay, and often i tried doing something while the dialogue went on in the background...distracting.
I'm sure that by pruning a lot of dialogue and repetitions it would be worth 4 stars.
A highly linear game with painfully drawn out cut scenes, Condemned appears to be the work of a teenager, and a 'disillusioned' one seems as good as any. The language is often awkward (both of the 'void' instead of 'devoid' variety, and a general attempt-at-a-literary-tone turgidity that makes reading through the often exceptionally verbose text more of a chore than it need be). Prolixity notwithstanding, the story does repeatedly achieve a sense of suspense and disquiet, at least until you get sick of pressing 'z' eleven times in a row (as is specified in the walkthrough not once, but twice!) and begin skimming the text waiting for the inevitable to happen.
The dialog is almost always hopelessly clunky, the game is dark and depressing in the manner of an overbearing "teen angst"-spawned melodrama, and your literal martyrdom is thrust in your face in a manner so brazen as to edge towards the absurd. Still, I did find myself on edge occasionally while waiting for the terrible to occur, and the game was technically competent and bug-free. A slightly lighter touch with the story and more natural language would have made this game something to remember. As it is, Condemned has more in common with the pained, quiet kid's creative writing project than any truly affecting work should.
This game, which won the Golden Banana of Discord in IFComp, is a story-focused game. Despite a few searching puzzles, most of the game consists of cutscenes. You go back and forth between two worlds, reenacting a horrible tragedy, and your guilt in it.
I found it to be heavy-handed; I feel like games such as Map and Euydice deal with similar feelings of regret in a more nuanced way.
Also, the Christian theme seems underutilized; the cross is heavily referenced, and a bit of guilt and repentance, but much of the atmosphere seems like a new synthesis of thought that doesn't mesh well with preexisting Christian themes.
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