Little Blue Men

by Michael S. Gentry profile

Satire, Horror, Science Fiction

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Number of Ratings: 67
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- Cerfeuil (Ectocomp 2023! Ectocomp 2023!), September 29, 2023

- gattociao, August 19, 2023

- caligula, April 21, 2023

- egostat (1st Level, Abyss), April 14, 2023

- OtisTDog, October 4, 2022

- fartbox, May 12, 2022

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

There's a lot to like about this game. It is written well, and although it doesn't achieve an overall arc, it does contain moments which can be quite moving or frightening. Technically I could find very little for which to fault it, both in its writing and its coding. Its puzzles may have had some unpleasant content, but they were clever and engaging, and generally quite well integrated with the storyline. But for me, it did not succeed as a work of art. Nonetheless, I respect it for being an ambitious but flawed experiment -- I'll take that over competent repetition any day.

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- Titania Lowe, January 29, 2022

- Karlok (Netherlands), April 14, 2021

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Disturbing, March 25, 2021

Frustrating, but fascinating, LBM is a puzzle of a game in several ways. With a tone that swings from aggravation to black humor to horror, a genre that shifts from slice-of-life to mystery to horror, motivations that are obtuse, and metaphors that are dense, the game may be absorbing, but it may also leave a player bewildered. And, no matter how it's interpreted, the game's notion of what "learning to love yourself" means seems horrifying.

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- Zape, July 23, 2020

- Stas, March 28, 2018

- Smidge, July 12, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 29, 2017

- ToALonelyPeace, April 2, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A mid-length, difficult office drama about frustration and conformity, March 25, 2016

Little Blue Men is a mid-length entry in the genre of 'I absolutely hate my job and office life sucks' genre (other notable examples include Building and Above and Beyond). You have incredibly annoying coworkers and a terrifying boss. As the game progresses, you uncover a deep evil.

This game has strong profanity, most notably at the beginning and at the end.

This game is a classic 90's game difficulty-wise, with some portions very difficult to guess without hints. I had some trouble, as did the Club Floyd team.

The writing, by the author of Anchorhead, is excellent, although I don't plan on playing it again due to the excessive profanity. The game includes some mean-spirited violence which is later justified.

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
LBM, February 27, 2016
by BeerIF (MA)

Fun experience. It's a bit unforgiving and took me some restarts to get it all done correctly, but somehow that all felt in the spirit of the story.

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- Indigo9182, September 4, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), November 14, 2014

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
a day at the office, November 2, 2014

This game is weird in a fun way. (Spoiler - click to show)Multiple endings make it especially unique. I'd recommend trying it, it's short. I want to say more but it's hard to do so without spoiling!

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- BlitzWithGuns, September 19, 2014

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
An effective use of the medium, September 19, 2014

Little Blue Men is a piece of interactive fiction written by Michael S. Gentry. You play as a disgruntled office worker tasked with repetitively stamping forms over and over again for the rest of his pointless life -- until he decides to take a stand and do something about the job he hates so much. This sort of premise is considered a massive cliché for interactive fiction, but Little Blue Men does it extraordinarily well. The game twists the familiar situation into a thematic direction you wouldn't expect, and this coupled with the game's excellent writing, which manages to pack plenty of genuine scares in with the hilarious satire, makes the experience worth remembering.

The thing that makes Little Blue Men work so well is the ending, which I don't want to spoil. It throws the player for a loop that gets them to re-analyze the entire story and think, Wait, why did I actually do that? This is one of those stories that only works properly as interactive fiction, told in the second person. When the actions of the protagonist in a story are placed in the hands of the reader, seeing the world through the character's eyes and having only themselves to blame for the outcomes, they start to feel responsible in part for the consequences. This responsibility is what makes the ending work, as it forces the reader to justify their own actions instead of solely allowing the character to be a separate entity, thus driving the game's theme in a little more effectively than it would be in a traditional storytelling medium.

First released in 1998 as an entry in the Xyzzy Awards, Little Blue Men won the award for Best Player Character, and was a finalist for Best Game, Best Individual Puzzle, Best Story, and Best Writing. The last two of these categories were lost to Photopia, another thematically-driven game released that year that combined excellent writing with a central theme. And although Photopia is a more polished product overall, I personally think that Little Blue Men deserved the writing prize a bit more; maybe it's not as technically proficient, but the writing is used here to further the genre of interactive fiction as well as providing an interesting theme that utilizes the dichotomy of player and protagonist. Photopia, while still a great game, could easily have been published as a short story instead, and is therefore, in my opinion, less deserving of a Xyzzy Award.

Technically, Little Blue Men is very flawed. It's one of the author's first works in the genre, and it shows in some small ways. A few of the puzzles are a bit obtuse, at times the text parser can be picky about your word choice, and some of the descriptions go out of sync with what's actually happening in the story. The overall product, however, ties itself together so well writing-wise that you'll find yourself forgiving these flaws. The game is freeware, and well worth your time to download.

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- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), April 21, 2014

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Metaphorical, March 1, 2014
by Simon Deimel (Germany)

Blue men is a game about an office worker who discovers that not everything is as it seems. I am not an office worker, but I think I would have similar thoughts about it as the protagonist.

The story is very intriguing, the character descriptions leave no doubt about the protagonist's true feelings. He (we can postulate that the protagonist is male) is obviously on the edge -- there are repeated comments how annoying his co-workers and his boss are. The game can bee seen as a metaphor for the wish to break away from the daily grind. The players even have the choice whether they accept their fate of being trapped in their position as office workers.

I was not sure about the rating -- I wanted to give four stars, but finally gave three. The reason is that the game is quite difficult and mistakes can very easily take place, and then the player has to repeat the previous actions when he realizes that what he did was not the series of actions that will lead to the desired ending. So every player is advised to save the game position frequently and keep various save files to prevent trouble. About the endings: the author states in a postscript that there is no real winning ending -- the player has to decide if the reached ending is satisfactory or not, and that is true: When I reached the final ending (it announces that the player has reached the ending which is considered to be the best), I wondered if I would not have preferred something different. But the author offers some thoughts on it in the postscript, so we get an insight in what he was thinking.

The prose is great, even if it contains some profanity (I tend to dislike strong expressions in written texts). It was still acceptable.

I would rather not recommend this game to beginners; it is quite tough, the puzzles are above average and some things may appear confusing. I can heartily recommend it to advanced players though.

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