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About the Story
In a walled enclave, a doctor does the best they can with very little.
39th place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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(This is a lightly-edited version of a review posted to the IntFict forums during the 2021 IFComp. My son Henry was born right before the Comp, meaning I was fairly sleep-deprived and loopy while I played and reviewed many of the games, so in addition to a highlight and lowlight, the review includes an explanation of how new fatherhood has led me to betray the hard work the author put into their piece)
The Last Doctor is one of the slightest games in the Comp – my first playthrough took less than ten minutes, and there are only two or three substantive choices on offer. There’s basically zero context provided for anything, with the central-casting post-apocalyptic milieu only barely sketched and the doctor protagonist getting only a word or two of backstory and certainly nothing as specific as a name. And yet!
Since IF Comp is primarily concerned with text, writing that’s good enough can turn even the most prosaic game into a killer app – and the prose in the Last Doctor is quite good indeed. In the author’s capable hands, even a few details or a single line of dialogue are enough to conjure up an image or reveal character. As with most of the choice games, I played this one one-handed on my phone while Henry was napping, but atypically, I actually went to the trouble of typing out some of the bits of writing I liked so I could include them in this review. Your clinic is host to “two medical beds [and] a chessboard of pill bottles”, for example, and the choice to ask a patient a bunch of questions about their condition is labeled “introduce her to Socrates.” And the writing is good enough to enliven the central moral dilemma, which could feel hackneyed and contrived if told by a weaker pen, but here feels satisfying and just right, regardless of how you resolve it. Again, this is a small thing – but it’s a small, beautiful thing, which is no bad thing to be.
Highlight: I’ve singled out some of the favorite bits of writing, but I also admired the laconic scene-setting of “Your days are long. Your hair is short.”
Lowlight: I may have found a slight bug having to do with how the game tracked my choices: (Spoiler - click to show)opted to treat the scavenger with all the supplies I had, and then tried to save the syndicate boss but failed due to not having what I needed. But in the final conversation with Baba, he said a line that implied the boss had died because I’d refused to provide him treatment.
How I failed the author: I don’t think I did, happily enough – the effort to type out that Socrates gag one-handed was definitely worth it.
This is a short Ink game. You are a doctor in a clinic that is almost empty. You have encounters with people and have to decide whether to spend your supplies on them.
The game is pretty short, almost like a demo for a larger game. Each major choice is an ethical one, and at the end the game thanks you for taking an examination (and starts with a similar comment), so I think it's intended for you to reflect on your morals.
Overall, it's a solid idea, but wasn't long enough to draw me in emotionally or to invite replay.
The Last Doctor is a choice-based game by Quirky Bones, published in 2021. You are an impoverished doctor in a conflict-ravaged, ambiguously post-apocalyptic setting. Some patients enter your clinic, you assess them, and you then decide how to use your scant supplies. The story can progress to a few different directions depending on your choices.
The writing style is compact and stylized. It feels like many details about the game's world are obfuscated by the intentionally vague and evocative prose, but it still tells you enough to create interesting mental images and make you care about your choices. (Spoiler - click to show)It's a pity that the game is very short and doesn't build much on its core ideas. You only take care of two patients, and the story ends so soon that it's a bit of an anti-climax.
The game has some brief descriptions of medical procedures and injury, but they aren't very detailed and come across somewhat milder than I'd expected considering both the main character's bloody profession as well as the grim feeling of the setting itself.
The technical quality of the game is decent. The interactivity is simple but functional. I did notice two text mistakes, including a missing word and a typo. It's nothing deal-breaking, though.
The suggested playing time is 30 minutes, although I think my first playthrough was actually closer to 10 minutes. However, the game does have multiple endings which gives it replay value. Overall, it's not a bad title to try out if you want to briefly dip into a dark setting and think about humanity.
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