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About the Story
Ten years ago you renounced Bigfootdom to become a paparazzi. Now it is your job to do an exposé on your reclusive sasquatch father. Welcome to Bigfoot Bluff.
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2022
Wade's Important Astrolab
Autumnal Jumble 2022 review: Bigfoot Bluff
Bigfoot Bluff, by P.B. Parjeter, is a busy parser adventure game of bizarre comedy. You play a paparazzi (?!) Bigfoot trying to snap a picture of your dad, a Bigfoot, in a national park he controls.
You're doing this for reasons that are hard to understand at first and hard to articulate later. Plus the park has cryptids (? again) in it. And you're photographing them. Why to both? Well, it works out eventually, but this doesn't feel like the kind of game in which one should be fumbling for understanding as often as one is.
BB taps the vein of fun eight-bit adventures with its tons of amusing objects to collect, little puzzles all over the place and a sarcastic parser voice. It's quite compulsively enjoyable already, but simultaneously frustrating to play.
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Bigfoot Bluff (translated review)
Bigfoot Bluff by P.B. Parjeter is an interactive story programmed in Inform. The reader arrives at a recreation park, called Bigfoot Bluff, whose manager is his father, and must explore what happens in it. As in all these open interactive fiction stories, the result can be tiresome (especially for non-English language readers) because many attempts are required for the parser to understand something.
At least, in this case, there is a map in PDF format, which can help guide you to where you are and what you can do. In any case, the language engine is quite lacking.
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I started the 2022 Spring Thing Festival with Bigfoot Bluff by P.B. Parjeter. It looked like a light-hearted, easy to play through game, but I got stuck, and without a walkthrough, I couldn’t finish it.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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P.B. Parjeter is an author best known for complex twine works, usually long and intricate. This seems to be the first parser game by this author.
You play as Bigfoot's kid, a sasquatch on a mission to expose your father to the world by photographing him and other cryptids. You explore a park while working on your master plan.
It's quite a bit more solid than most first parser games by authors who already know twine. I didn't see many, if any, capitalization or punctuation errors. There were a couple of things I think could be polished (like using custom appearance text for items and a smoother introduction of some items in the initial scene).
What goes write is the creative and inventive puzzles, and the forgiving point system where you only have to get 60 points to win. That means that if you're beating your head against a particularly tricky puzzle or having trouble getting the parser to listen in one section, you can just skip it. So I skipped all the light puzzles and the ants.
The game lists several parser authors as beta testers, which may help explain why the game is so well put together for a first author. I can only expect that the remaining rough edges would be fixed up in a subsequent game as the author gained more experience. Overall, I had fun with this game.
(I beta tested this game)
The first three sentences of Bigfoot Bluff land like a clap of thunder:
"Ten years ago you renounced Bigfootdom to become a paparazzi. Now it is your job to do an exposé on your reclusive sasquatch father. Welcome to Bigfoot Bluff."
This opening crawl efficiently answers every question you could have about the game – you have your who what where and why all cleanly laid out, albeit “how” is a bit trickier since you don’t start with a camera – while raising a whole host of new ones a player wouldn’t know they had to ask, like “wait, can you just choose to stop being a sasquatch?”, “have I been like photographing celebrities in Santa Monica sushi joints for the last decade? As a sasquatch?”, “couldn’t I just do the exposé on myself?”, and “wait, shouldn’t it be paparazzo or is that not how Italian works, because I’m pretty sure ‘paparazzi’ is Italian” (maybe that last one is just me).
To its credit, Bigfoot Bluff is adamant about not answering any of those questions – it’s given you all the backstory you need, and now it’s time to just roll with it. Beyond just the disorienting setup, the overall vibe of the setting took me a minute to get a handle on, before realizing that the author’s riffing on early-90’s tabloids, from the blurrily-photographed cryptids to a late-game cameo that I won’t spoil. In fact the ending pulls out a number of rugs, questioning the premise and raising significant questions about what’s going on outside the eponymous park. Squint, and you can see the game touching on questions that go beyond the terminally silly, about media production and overzealous parenting and identity – which it then comprehensively undercuts, so maybe the joke is on me for starting to take it seriously. Regardless, it’s a uniquely-combined set of reference points that come together into a mélange that’s memorable even if it might not be to every player’s taste.
The gameplay is also something of a rara avis. Bigfoot Bluff bills itself as a sandbox game, which calls to mind a certain structure – of a fairly open map where the player has a lot of freedom to solve puzzles, which are largely of the medium-dry-goods variety – but here also speaks to the mechanics. Rather than requiring you to run through a linear chain of barriers to unlock the endgame, though, the game takes a more systemic approach. Instead of points, you have a stealth score, that abstractly represents how noticeable you are; the finale is gated behind getting a sufficiently high score, on the theory that at that point you’re sneaky enough to get sufficiently close to your bigfoot dad to snap a pic.
Even more intriguingly, this doesn’t only increase monotonically – while solving many puzzles will increase your stealth, as will wearing the appropriate disguises, but some actions can also decrease your stealth. Sometimes these are signposted, but sometimes what feels like ordinary IF-protagonist behavior gets you dinged. For example, you might think that wearing sunglasses would help you blend into the crowd, but in the park environment, the glare they give off winds up drawing attention to you. The game is clear that you can always regain lost points by taking appropriate actions, which adds an interesting wrinkle, though it also necessitates disabling UNDO to prevent the player from ignoring this aspect.
I’m of two minds about this – on the one hand, this moves the gameplay in a roguelike direction, creating the expectation that part of the fun for the player is rolling with some punches, but on the other, sometimes it can set up situations that feel like gotchas, which hits doubly-hard when the player convenience of taking back the offending action is removed. I personally like roguelikes, and given the large number of ways to get points none of these setbacks wind up being that punitive, but at the same time keeping UNDO enabled might encourage players to opt into the chaos, rather than leaving them to start save-scumming or declining to poke at dangerous-seeming situations. At any rate, experimenting with traditional gameplay axioms like this is exciting – it gives me lots of ideas for other ways to import roguelike or immersive sim mechanics into IF.
I keep using, or circling around, the word “unique”, because there’s very little that Bigfoot Bluff does that’s conventional. It’s notable that the author has previously made choice-based games, I think – I’ve mentioned my thesis that the long-established division between these two kinds of works is breaking down, and BB may be an example of how that hybridization is shaking things up, since my sense is that the kinds of systemic design it uses are more prevalent in the choice-based space. If it’s an experiment, though, it’s a generous one, letting the player choose how deep they want to get into the puzzling and allowing them to roam the (nicely-illustrated) map to their heart’s content. Even though I mostly wound up wittering on about design, here, it’s still very much a fun, playable game – it just might leave your brain bouncing in a bunch of different directions when you’re done.
Another interesting piece of work by P.B. Parjeter.
Two interesting thing about the game: this was betatested in IFMUD and offline for various betatesters messaging between them with some agility.
This kind of test assured a polished and top notch game so everything has been argued and debated.
The game is an original piece with some score gameplay and a lot of interesting and original and smart puzzles very well inserted in the gameplay. It has a medium map with some explorating leads.
Furthermore there is a nice map in the feelies you surely welcome.
So, this is a game about bigfoots and a exploring game that will enjoy most of adventurers.
I recommend give it a try becouse I enjoyed it.
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