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About the Story
A Petite Mort entry for ECTOCOMP 2016.
6th Place, La Petite Mort - EctoComp 2016
Number of Reviews: 3
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In what is essentially a one-move game, you play the unfortunately-named Doctor Bonesaw, who has finally uncovered the names and locations of the four people who have ruined his life. Finally, vengeance is his! (or even !!)
The writing leans toward the absurd, but never gets a chance to be over-the-top. In the spirit of The Northnorth Passage, there is really only one thing you can do; the parser's illusion of choice is just that - an illusion. (Spoiler - click to show)Mostly. Even the illusion of space is an illusion. It would have been fun if more objects in the starting location were implemented. If you think simply and act simply, it feels just too short to make the final move, however inevitable, feel satisfying.
There are, however, hidden depths to this compact game.(Spoiler - click to show)It's pretty well-hinted textually, so if might be worth going back to it a few times to see if you can, in fact, stop the inevitable.
(Disclosure: I participated in Ectocomp 2016.)
In The Unstoppable Vengeance of Dr. Bonesaw you play a genius inventor about to take the final step to get revenge on four enemies. The good doctor's hatred of the enemies shines through; however, since apparently their crime is plagiarising inventions and Dr. Bonesaw's response is murder, you get the feeling that our protagonist may be a bit morally ambiguous.
The first thing that stood out to me in this game was the writing. This has the best writing of any Ectocomp 2016 entry I've played so far, and then some. It is pitch-perfect and funny, with sensuous descriptions. The plot is clever, with an unusual gimmick.
The central puzzle isn't the most groundbreaking thing in all IF, but it's solidly implemented and rewards experimentation. It stumped me just long enough to feel challenging, rather than frustrating. I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the outcomes, even just a slight change to the ending message depending on, for example, whether you (Spoiler - click to show)blocked the southern doorway but not the northeastern one. However, this is after all a speed IF.
While the story is about cold-blooded murder, the ambience of the game is pulp, rather than horror. The most frightening parts were little asides, rather than the main plot: for example, the existence of the morphing surgical table, (Spoiler - click to show)though it doesn't get used for any nasty purposes in-game, or the response to REMOVE MASK.
My only criticism of this game is that I would have loved more: more endings, more things for Dr. Bonesaw to comment on, more puzzle. However, when I come across a game that is as much a treat as this, I'm thankful for what I get.
I haven't rated any Ectocomp entries; it would have felt disingenuous, since I participated in it. However, if I did, I think this game merits at least a 4. Strongly recommended for anyone who enjoys a short, mildly creepy pulp read with polished prose and implementation.
This game is a clever inversion of usual goals. Playing normally as Dr. bonesaw, this is a short game; you get your vengeance.
The true gameplay, however, is more fun:
(Spoiler - click to show)You find the true ending by sabotaging yourself. It takes a few turns, but it's really pleasing to stop the unstoppable vengeance of Dr.
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