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About the Story
The relationship is in a walking dead situation: it's over, only continuing to move onward solely on inertia.
Entrant - ShuffleComp 2014
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Number of Reviews: 4
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So, you're trying to leave your lover. (The one with the cleverly androgynous name.) You get one move. Or, rather, 50 moves, one per play through. This game is cute and funny. It's even fun for the first few moves. Some of the methods of leaving are clever and left me with a grin. However, each move will net you a few paragraphs of text and, eventually, I wasn't invested in the game enough to do more than skim them. This is where the game falls short. I'm a bit of a completionist, so I kept trying commands (some commands that seem like they should be there aren't while others are rather obscure) until I had about a dozen left but I stopped there. I wasn't even pretending to read the outcomes anymore and it had become a chore trying to guess what I should do next.
Overall, it's fun for the first few moves but the replay value (for me at least) is not what it should be for a one move game. Go ahead and play it in the browser for a little, it'll probably brighten your day. Just be sure to quit when it stops being fresh or you might find yourself trapped in this relationship.
the one-move game Aisle has been endlessly remixed, parodied, copied, and reiterated at this point. most of the copies have ignored the pathos that was the original's intent, instead focusing on the bizarre responses the original provided for more out-there commands that seemed to hint that the protagonist was suffering from dementia.
in this offering, you are sitting at a restaurant table with your lover, and you intend to leave them. you have one move. every response the parser recognizes will print out a joke interpretation of what you typed as a method of dumping said lover.
the key here is "every response the parser recognizes." most of the things i typed after the obvious were not understood. objects whose presence had been established in one narrative were not implemented, and couldn't be interacted with in the next restart.
it's not that this kind of game can't be done well, though admittedly i can only think of two times it worked: Rematch and I'm Having a Heart Attack from the Apollo 13 collection. in both cases the implementation was extremely deep, and you could (and needed to) build on what you learn about the setting from your previous actions to give you ideas for later attempts.
here i ran into too many brick walls of unimplemented words and lost interest.
Aisle clones have been done before, of course. I did one I'm glad I did, but I'm not going to show it to anyone as an example of my brilliance. They help the programmer explore, and they're perfect for game jams like ShuffleComp. Especially if the author draws 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon.
In 50SL, you're in Tom's Diner (I got that reference!) with your lover, Sam. Soon to be your ex-lover. But what is the best way to leave?
The standard Inform commands fall quickly at first. Some two-word commands work, but all have a parallel one-word command. For instance, LOOK and X SAM do the same thing. Meta-commands work, too, in line with the "poke technically at stuff because this is a game jam" ethos. I had things fall in bunches as I realized what to do. One command forced me to hold down the space bar to see a few subsequent related commands.
This all was amusing until I realized that I had no way to track what I did. Also, the text was overwhelming after a bit. The jokes, for the most part, landed. And, also, I really enjoyed the reject responses if, say, you typed SCORE twice. They're much shorter and snappier. Brevity can be the soul of wit.
That said some of the verbs have to do with love or being dumped, and some are Zorkian in-jokes, and the final one may be a meta-command. I had to use a text dump to see the last few.
50SL does have a few rough edges, with one particular synonym missed as they hacked the parser. (Spoiler - click to show)Z is not a synonym for WAIT. But by and large, it hits the main commands. And I do enjoy the rejections for stuff I forgot I did. It's just that you'll probably leave the hard verbs for last, and that gets frustrating, to be so close. You don't really have any clues--perhaps alphabetical listing of what you got, with ?'s for what remains, would be useful. One word in particular ending in Y irked me, and there was another noun from Zork.
Nonetheless 50SL was memorable enough for me to poke at it years later. I was amused to see I'd already disassembled it during the ShuffleComp judging period, but there were still puzzles involved. I submitted a guide to CASA so you don't have to jump through all the hoops I did, and you can enjoy this game before it potentially exasperates you. In this case it's better to check the hints too soon than too late. It's a neat idea, and you might as well use resources to be able to walk away appreciating it the most you can.
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