Number of Reviews: 4
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Short and simple, but not as sweet as it appears, June 25, 2012
Let me start by saying that I've been away from IF for a long while now. I don't think I've touched an IF game for at least a year. So, choosing to play Under the Bed was much like choosing to play my first IF. I picked it because it seemed short, sweet, and simple. And I'm happy to say that I don't regret the choice.
You're a child tasked with one goal and one goal only: to kill the monster hiding under your bed before it has the chance to hurt your newly arrived baby brother. It's an interesting premise with a lot of potential, and while Under the Bed doesn't quite live up to all that potential, it certainly gets a few things right.
The environment is rather under-implemented. There aren't many objects for the player to interact with, and the setting itself is limited to three sparse rooms (not counting the closets). But, given that we are presented with a single, straightforward goal and given until midnight to achieve it, an expansion on the environment may be unnecessary. It's worth noting that the time limit is more than generous, allowing you ample time to make preparations for the monster's arrival.
Now, onto the puzzle itself. Yes, there's only one, and no, it's not particularly difficult or time-consuming. Because there aren't all that many objects to interact with, the only difficulty comes not from collecting and using multiple items, but from deciding how to use the limited resources that are readily at your disposal. My actions were, for the most part, intuitive, though I admit to being a little baffled by one particular step in the preparation process: (Spoiler - click to show)how to prevent the monster from using the closet as an escape route.
I'm fairly sure that I got all the possible endings, which range from absolute failure to absolute success, with a couple of not-quite victories in the middle. While the game starts out cutesy - a little boy trying to protect his brother from what is probably an imaginary monster - its endings reveal a much darker side to the story. On one play-through, I simply waited around for time to run out, and was rewarded with a very jarring ending. While there's nothing outstanding about the writing of the room and item descriptions, the tone of that particular ending was quite gripping and left me wanting to read more of the author's work.
Another thing worth mentioning about Under the Bed is the hint system. It's integrated seamlessly into the game and comes across less like a series of hints and more like a natural part of the story. Even though it becomes apparent quite quickly, I feel obliged to put its description in a spoiler tag, if only because it was so satisfying to discover it on my own. (Spoiler - click to show)The talking duck was a nice touch, both as a way of introducing hints to the player and as a story element. I do wish that the duck's personality and dialogue options were further developed. Once the novelty of the talking stuffed animal wore off, it began to feel more like a gimmick than a character for the player to interact with. But quite frankly, it's adorable.
My biggest complaint with this game is that it just didn't seem to go deep enough. I would have liked to be able to wander through more of the house, interact with the child's parents, and maybe construct a more elaborate trap for the monster. Having more extensive conversation options with the one talking character in the game would have also been nice. As it stands, the game is very linear, has almost no NPC interaction, and won't provide more than 10-minutes worth of entertainment. But, I enjoyed the story, and it certainly reminded me why I got into interactive fiction in the first place. I'd say those 10 minutes of entertainment and the satisfying feeling of vanquishing a monster from under your bed are worth a play-through.