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About the Story
Your band has come to play at the greatest metal venue around: the Blood Furnace’s INFURNAL STAGE. There is only one problem: the act before you is—*shudder*—playing glam metal! And worse yet, they’ve gone way over the alotted time for their set! This is terrible. This is unacceptable! You must do something. Wielding the power of the ancient codex of metal, you must track down your fellow bandmates and reclaim the Infurnal Stage!
41st place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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This was a genuinely fun game. You are part of a heavy metal band whose set is being taken over by a glamrock band. You have to assemble your band together, but each is distracted and can't come help you.
After some initial exploration, you gain the power to JAM with the other members of your band, which lets you cause interesting effects. Jamming with 2 people at a time provides more effects, leading to about 10 jam powers all together.
The writing is snappy and fun, the colors are cool, and the mechanics are interesting.
The only real downsides are (for me), a lot of profanity (in line with metal fans, though) and a lot of missing synonyms and alternate solutions. I kept trying things like RIP SHIRT or SURF CROWD or UNPLUG SWITCH or TAKE SWITCH and getting error messages, when it seems like these things ought to have been implemented. The game is very smooth in other areas and had testers, so I guess I'd just recommend in the future piling on even more testers and implementing everything they try in a transcript. I think this game is already great, but I think it could be pushed to 'completely awesome' territory by such efforts. I definitely hope to see more games by this author in the future, because they have a real talent for writing and mechanics.
So I was worried this game would be much darker than it actually turned out to be. Well, perhaps heavy-metal-hating adults from my youth who insisted there were Satanic messages in there, or at the very least it wasn't the sort of thing that helped you be productive in society, would disagree. But it did turn out to be sort of supernatural and dark, or at least, that's the fate that was threatened. It never actually happened. And yes, this effort is about heavy metal music and various subgenres, but this didn't stop my clueless self from enjoying it, and it shouldn't stop you.
You're at a heavy metal club and are very upset your own "real' metal band is being kept off the stage by a very long glam-metal performance. You need to get back on-stage. This is harder than it seems. The lead singer of the glam-metal band is, in fact, more than just a selfish jerk. Your problem? You'll need all your band members together to have the force to do so. They're all distracted by something silly. Emmy, your guitarist, is upset her Switch is low on power. Mae, your cousin ("and more importantly, your drummer") is being accosted by – horror of horror – dudebros out in the back. Tamm's brother insists on playing D&D with her. Clover and Max stuck themselves in a closet to avoid a stalker. All this must be settled before you go on stage. And there's a "horrible" secret why the glam-rock band is so popular: the lead singer is worse than the dudebros. A demon, in fact.
Evasive action must be taken so that the club and, indeed, the world avoids a horrible fate. The key command to use here is JAM: once you jam correctly with a fellow band member, they're willing to do what it takes to get on-stage. JAM also meshes different subgenres of metal into a third. All this is beyond me, and apparently the hybrids aren't relly related to the originals, but it's all in good, clear fun. Clear enough that even an uninitiate like me could understand it.
Minor vandalism is required. You must burn a poster for Acid Lobotomy (there really is a band named this! It's too perfect,) but the game notes they would've wanted it that way. You and Mae have a very detailed discussion about heavy metal minutae that can't possibly appeal to outsiders, but it does here, because it's obviously overdone, and it's used to leave the dudebros bothering her in the dust.
The game map itself isn't very big–it's one of those packed music clubs, after all. So you could trial-and-error everything except the puzzle noted in spoilers. I was worried it might be something much, much bigger due to the word "Codex," but really, I think it's about the right size.
I'm pretty sure I missed out on some of the joke details, and I had no clue whether or not jamming created different fusions of metal styles. But I didn't mind. It's a fun little romp of good (but not, like, sickeningly or boringly good) vs. evil. I very much enjoyed it, and I'm speaking as someone who doesn't really enjoy live music, especially loud live music. I'd almost say the game's good harmless fun, but somehow, that seems like exactly the wrong compliment. Perhaps I get all the excitement of crowds without, well, having to deal with crowds. At any rate, I think the author did a good job of articulating the excitement and humor of metal culture, probably better than I would do discussing college sports fandom or chess ("That Carlsbad pawn structure, eh? Eh?") And I'm glad I played it, as if it hadn't been in IFComp, I'd likely have said, eh, heavy metal? I'll pass.
The main blurb gets the premise across pretty well: you're in a metal band, the (terrible) act ahead of you in the lineup is running over time, and you need to assemble your bandmates and save the show. (Though things do eventually get a little weirder...) The author satirizes the metal scene without ever coming across as mean-spirited; the characters are all a little stereotypical, but written with affection and humour, and the story works even if you're not super familiar with the genre.
Most of the puzzles are based on a novel, central mechanic, introduced around the midgame. While it's not the deepest mechanic, it's a lot of fun to play around with, and the game's short enough that you don't end up exhausting the possibilities until the final moments. None of the puzzles end up being particularly difficult; if you get stuck, experimenting with different combinations and locations is enough to keep things moving without being frustrating.
The game was a little bit under-implemented: verbs that felt natural weren't there, significant objects described by the game weren't there at all or didn't have the right behaviours, and there's a little bit of guess-the-verb. Nothing huge or game-breaking, but enough to add some friction to an otherwise-delightful experience.
|Perdition's Flames, by Michael J. Roberts|
Average member rating: (18 ratings)
The afterlife isn't what you expected. Explore a strangely modernized and bureaucratic underworld, replete with strip malls, government offices, and science labs, as well as the occasional lake of molten rock.
The Land Beyond the Picket Fence, by Martin Oehm
Average member rating: (2 ratings)
|Four Days of Summer, by David Welbourn|
Average member rating: (2 ratings)
In this pleasant and silly game, spend the first four days of July with your friend David, a shameless author insertion character who seems inordinately fond of making interactive fiction references.
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Overall NPCs of 2021 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2021 which you think might be worth considering for Best NPCs in the XYZZY awards. This is for the overall NPCs of the game; there is another poll for best individual NPCs. This is not a...
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Writing of 2021 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2021 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest...