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by tumbolia

Surreal, Fantasy

Web Site

(based on 4 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Do you want a surreal and mysterious text adventure game in which you type commands and silly things happen?

>> YES

Then this might be the game for you!

Do you like games that start in subway stations?


Good! This is one of those.

Are you looking for a game that runs for 3 to 4 hours?

> NO!

That's OK. Typical play time for this one is just 15-25 minutes. How long will it take you to solve? Click that "Play On-line" button above to find out!


This is a short parser game, written in Inform. This game was originally released as a submission to the Single Choice Jam. We made some changes and improvements based on the feedback we got from that jam. (Thanks, everyone!) There are lots of new passages, more clues, and even a bit of a hint system.

Game Details


Entrant - Single Choice Jam


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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Boing! review, September 1, 2023
by EJ
Related reviews: single choice jam

Based on the cover image, I was hoping this was going to be an entry in the rarefied genre of “surreal public transit comedy”, but alas, the subway-station setting is incidental here. Well, no matter: as a surreal non-public-transit-related comedy, it still packs a lot of fun into its short run time.

This is a one-move game with a central puzzle, in which each cycle hopefully gives you some information that suggests more actions that weren’t immediately obvious, gradually moving you closer to figuring out the one winning action. I can say from personal experience that designing this type of game to be challenging but not unfair is a lot harder than you’d think; the sweet spot is small and the fields of “trivial, provides no satisfaction” and “requires the player to read your mind” on either side are huge. But Boing! mostly lands in the right place.

The conceit, if I can attempt to describe it without revealing too much, is that someone is trying to guide the PC through dreams to accomplish a certain goal. The PC can take one action, and if it doesn’t accomplish that goal, they experience a dream sequence that attempts to nudge them in the right direction and then are yanked back in time to the start of the game.

Mostly these nudges worked, and I moved through the game at a good clip without getting too hung up on anything; the only stumbling block for me was the final command. (Spoiler - click to show)Clearly there’s an instead rule at play here, but under normal circumstances, trying to throw the sandwich would trigger an attempt to take the sandwich. And since you only get one move, any action that first triggers an implicit “take” action has the same result as simply trying to take the sandwich—you can’t, say, “give sandwich to mouse” because first you have to take the sandwich and then you’re yoinked. Once I’d failed at giving the sandwich, it didn’t occur to me to try throwing the sandwich because I figured the same thing would happen. So I spun my wheels for a while before stumbling across what I remember as a fairly direct hint about what to do (I don’t remember what I did to get it).

The bulk of the actual story comes after that final command, and I enjoyed the matter-of-fact tone in which the bizarre events were relayed. This level of random silliness is sometimes a little much for me, but for a bite-size game I think it works perfectly—it’s fun and memorable and doesn’t wear out its welcome.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A one-move game set in a subway, January 9, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a surreal one-move game entered into the Single Choice Jam.

You start in a subway, but something feels...off. Every choice that you make gives you deeper insights into the world, sometimes through explicit dialogue, and sometimes through dreams.

The setting and ideas become increasingly surreal. Somewhere along the way, I felt like it became disconnected; at least, I found it hard to thread together the various experiences I had had along the way into a coherent world.

I had a little trouble figuring out some of the actions to take, but thankfully there's a comprehensive hint system.

I didn't find any bugs in the game itself; on itch I had some trouble with the game not recognizing input halfway through the endgame sequence, so I thought I was stuck, but downloading it worked fine. This seems more like a weird interaction between my browser and not something due to the author.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Break the cycle, August 29, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: singlechoice

This last-submitted parser for the jam is a bit of an intricate puzzle, requiring the player to read the prompts very carefully to find the solution… or they will be yoinked back to the start. The game is built in one room, where the player can do different action in hopes to reach the end - a sort of Aisle meets escape room, where there is only one true action to solve the puzzle.

And so, you are an investigator (maybe?) stuck in some sort of loop (if you could remember why you are here, it would be greeeaaat), in a subway station, next to a vending machine, surrounded by some critters… and plagued by very strange and prophetic dreams (you really should take note of those).

The twist/explanation of the ending is kind of nonsensical and very trippy, very on point from the rest of the game. It is both confusing and hilarious. I’m glad I played this last.

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Boing! on IFDB


The following polls include votes for Boing!:

Outstanding Surreal Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Surreal game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Suggested...

Microparsers by Tabitha / alyshkalia
The discussion in this thread, from which I've borrowed the term "microparser" (thanks Pinkunz!), led me to want to collect small parser games. I'm thinking of ones that fit what's described in the thread--generally taking less than 30...

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