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Upon further reflection..., June 21, 2020
I first gave In the End a silent two-star review. I dislike it and consider it Not Good, but it's not hideously broken or otherwise defective. But then I gave a two-star review to a game that, given a choice between "like" or "dislike", I "like." So I'm coming back and saying loud and clear: I must put In the End in the one-star bin along with those Actually Terrible games.
Unfair, perhaps, but I'm not the one who came up with this railroad mood piece.
24 years ago, I rolled my eyes so hard I could hear the straining in my head when I realized what the author was trying to get me to guess.
Revisiting it today, I smile a sad wry smile at the ABOUT screen's wish: "In The End" will be, I hope, the first successful "puzzle-less IF", but its success will not completely close the question.
Looking at what has followed, the author gets a rousing "Mission accomplished."
Today I'm softer on the piece (24 years does that) and perhaps it's the countless choice games in similar veins which make it easier to spell out where I think In the End fails.
In a nominally open-ended parser experience, the author can do a lot to set the tone and give guidance and establish goals. And the author can make me desperately bored enough to want to quit. But if you want me to (Spoiler - click to show)conclude that suicide is the only option, I'm gonna need a lot more, and In the End doesn't come close to delivering it.