The Pinecone

by Joseph Pentangelo


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Number of Ratings: 20
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1-20 of 20

- Jade68, September 14, 2021

- EJ, April 8, 2021

- Austin Auclair, March 1, 2021

- Greg Frost (Seattle, Washington), January 26, 2021

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), December 31, 2020

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A surrealist amuse-bouche, December 10, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

Hey, itís another game about waiting for the bus! As I made clear in my What the Bus? review, I am here for this kind of content. While both games are more about the journey than the destination, the Pinecone isnít an absurdist descent into a transit nightmare, but a short, surrealist vignette (itís sufficiently short and surrealist that I donít want to go into details Ė youíre waiting for a bus, and as the cover indicates thereís a pinecone and at least one goat who enter into the proceedings). The author notes that this was adapted from a piece of static flash-fiction, and thatís the source of the gameís greatest strength, as well perhaps of its limitations.

The strength is the writing, which isnít just ďgood for IF,Ē but flat-out good. I donít mean to undercut how hard it is to write well for IF Ė itís just that when youíre doing, say, a parser game you often need to describe very precise spatial relationships while keeping the amount of text under control so the player is able to pick out the key details. Thereís usually more freedom in choice-based IF, but thereís similarly lots of weight on the text, say if the author is trying to provide enough information to help the player feel like theyíre making decisions based on a full understanding on the situation and characterization of the protagonist and other folks in a scene. The Pinecone, though, barrels past those constraints and offers prose that wouldnít be out of place in something by an Iowa Writersí Workshop alum. Hereís how the eponymous seedcase is described:

ďYou feel the pineconeís scaly ridges, its sheafed layers, its smooth-rough texture, a grenade mid-explosion, a spacious, fruitless pineapple.Ē

Thereís a good amount of detail provided, but they words all well chosen to set a mood, and show off the authorís gift for memorable images and clever turns of phrase. And the presentation Ė clean white background, with an attractive font Ė adds an additional note of class.

The flip side of this is that I donít think the game is trying very hard to be a game. I felt a bit lost as I hit most of the choice points, as I didnít feel like I had much context or even access to the information that the main character should have (thereís clearly some family lore about goats thatís only stated after you make a choice that relies on that knowledge). And if youíre interested in things beyond the very specific items and situations the author is focused on, youíre out of luck, as thereís no real scope for exploration.

I donít think any of that matters very much Ė there are distinct endings (I got three out of the four) but all of them seemed like a fitting capper for the experience, so the stakes for your decisions are generally low, and as the situation as a whole is fairly incomprehensible for the character as well as the player, a bit of confusion might be fitting. Thereís some gentle humor in the writing and the absurdity of the situation, but really, the star here is the literary prose.

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), December 4, 2020

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Goatlore, December 2, 2020
by Stian
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

The Pinecone is a very quick piece of IF with a few branches, all of which are related to goatlore. It does not seem to carry any deeper meaning, but is somewhat imaginative and slightly entertaining.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Odd and Entertaining, December 2, 2020
by Ann Hugo (Canada)

"The Pinecone" is definitely a peculiar game, a short peculiar game. It rather made me think of one of those odd picture books the librarian would read to my class when I was little. You really need to experience it yourself; it's hard to describe. It's definitely worth the few minutes it takes to play. I played it a few times, and it's certainly enjoyable.

- AKheon (Finland), December 1, 2020

- Simon Deimel (Germany), November 19, 2020

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Another absurdist game from the author, November 19, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes

This game is the author's second entry into IFComp 2020, along with an equally absurd game, "The Turnip". You play a student waiting for a bus when a herd of goats come walking down the street. From there things get really weird.

I played through it twice and got two of the four endings. This piece is better than "The Turnip" for sure, but still not great. Perhaps this style of writing just isn't my cup of tea, but I just didn't get it. Everything is weird without reason, which is fine if something interesting happens in the world. But nothing really does. The ending is kind of funny, but seems disjointed with some of the penultimate scenes along some of the possible paths.

I'd like to see more from this author, but I think it would have to be a longer piece with more interesting character development and interactions. Not just weirdness for its own sake.

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 16, 2020

- Sobol (Russia), November 3, 2020

- jvg, October 23, 2020

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Rumination, October 19, 2020

Surprising, odd, well written, and nicely designed, with an allusion to something like climate change and changing demographics (unless "kids" refers to goats and not children). For such a small, contained story, the number, type, and scale of the choices felt appropriate to me.

- Zape, October 16, 2020

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A very brief game about an odd encounter with a pinecone and a goat, October 13, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

Like many have said, this is quite similar to The Turnip. It's by the same author, they're both the same length, have the same styling, have the same setup. They also feature large and puzzling agricultural specimens and kindness to animals.

Is there some kind of meta puzzle here? I don't think so, judging by opening up the code and peeking at a few of the boxes. In any case, this is fun writing, and slightly more interactive than the other piece. It reminds me of Sub-Q Magazine's pieces before they stopped printing, albeit a little shorter. I'm glad to have it in the comp; it's not the kind of thing that I'd seek out normally, but it's so short and well-done that I happy to see it.

+Polish: Very polished.
+Descriptiveness: I think the writing is very well-done here.
+Interactivity: There's not much, but it's interesting and a little puzzle.
+Emotional impact: I liked it.
-Would I play it again? I think once is enough.

- hsgerard (Portland), October 5, 2020

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Totes McGotes!, October 3, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

What a delightful little story. This has the charm of Birdland without the depth. And it also has goats, and you canít go wrong with goats. The color scheme and text is very easy on the eyes, and the prose is whimsical. There are four paths and they can all be found in about ten minutes. I canít say Iíll ever come back to this but it was a charming interlude during the 2020 IFComp.

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