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About the Story
"Dancing with Fear" (1958, directed by Víctor Ojuel). In this forgotten classic of Golden Age Hollywood, a vedette fallen on hard times (Salomé Vélez) finds herself enmeshed in a tangle of political intrigue, romance and betrayal in a Caribbean republic. Torn between her love for a smuggler, the lust of a corrupt policeman and the machinations of a Soviet intelligence operative, the protagonist navigates the dangers of a high-society party on the eve of revolution. As she tries to survive through that fateful night, the memories of her past will come to haunt her. Controversial at the time for its depiction of Cold War politics and morally ambiguous protagonist. (120 minutes, Technicolor, in-game hint system).
Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Nominee - Salomé Vélez, Best Individual PC - 2017 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Ojuel is a master of setting, and this is a great game. You play as an former dancer in 1958 in a communist Carribean country. You have to extricate something from a house party, but you don't know what it is.
The game has great storytelling, using flashbacks and conversation to good effect. I see it getting nominated for several XYZZYs.
There were several implementation difficulties, though, because it was sometimes hard to know what verbs to use. A post-comp release that implemented every command response contained in judges' reviews would not take much time, and would add the finishing touches to this already great game.
I liked the setting and the tone of this game a lot. It's nice how the main character is build throughout the story and how you can still discover something about her in the very final scene. Unfortunately, the version I've been playing (original IFComp, first-day release) suffers from a series of drawbacks that spoiled some of the fun.
First of all, the mechanics. Having every single sequence as a puzzle which you have to solve to advance reminded me too much of those old-time games in the style of Robin of Sherwood by Brian Howarth. A little more space to maneuver wouldn't have harmed.
Second: large part of the game is solved by mechanically TALKing TO someone pretty obvious. The parser is reduced enough so that a handful of verbs are needed in total. Maybe, given how the story is nice and appealing, a choice-based text would have been more suited for the occasion. (ETA: this may sound arbitrary and a little bit too far, and it probably is: it was indeed more of a provocation than a real suggestion. We know how branching is/should be one of the main points in choice-based mechanics, and this was obviously not the intent of the author.)
Last: there's a lot of polish to undergo to make this title perfect. Objects that don't disappear in descriptions, others that stick in your inventory after jumps of years; typos (to whom I don't care much, but still there they are...); the lack of interaction with some of the descriptions and a couple of sudden deaths that can be solved only after one died, via UNDO.
This said: there's 6 different endings (which I wasn't able to find), and a lot of story to read and live. If this was given some more time to test it would have been 4 stars at least.
(ETA: I ended up giving 4 stars to this game anyway, as i understood, in comparison with other projects, that I was being too critical. The story is really cool and the games embraces you a lot, in a trip that I would do again, now that some weeks have passed.)
The 1950's in the Caribbean: A steamy, exotic setting, politically overheated, vivid and emotional. You're a spy, not by conviction but because of events that led to your current situation. A James-Bond-like setting, with a lot of jumping back and forth in the recent history of the fictitious country.
The story is on rails, there's little exploration beyond the location you're currently in. Implementation could be better, from typos to commands not understood. The vibes are awesome though. Infocom always claimed their games would be driven by the player's imagination. 1958 does right that, you feel like you're there. If there were more details, if there were more communication, this would be a gem and the reference title in the segment "early 20th century espionage thriller in the Caribbean". <3 <3 <3
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