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I wanted more Newton!, December 6, 2020
This is my first parser game of the contest. I do not really play parser games. I played a bunch of Hugo’s House of Horrors when I was a tiny little boy, but for 20 odd years: nothing, until this game.
In this game you play as Issac Newton, contemplating how he will revolutionize physics until he gets a strange letter informing him of a intellectual puzzle befitting his burgeoning genius. You travel down a linear path to a cottage and meet an old woman who remarks about how easy it was to lure you down here and then refuses to speak to you. I tried to talk to her, ask her about any of the key words she said, ask her about anything in her house, myself, herself, or what was going on. Nothing. Giving up, I went outside, fainted from dehydration, learned that I was (Spoiler - click to show)in 2020 and science was in trouble, then visited the library.
The game is pretty simple. I had to use the walkthrough once to solve the puzzle in the library, but otherwise had no trouble. I think there was a cool idea here, the potential for perhaps some commentary on science and history, but I felt it was under-explored. I would have rather the game delved deeper into that than have a puzzle about sneaking books out of a library. Maybe part of the reason is that I am a firm opponent of the idea that single individuals shape history so profoundly, especially when it comes to the development of ideas. So perhaps my objections are more ideological than anything. I think it would have been neat and Newton came to the future to find history had easily continued on without him. Or perhaps if the game drew more from Newton’s biography rather than the idea of Newton. Didn’t he think a lot of what he was doing was alchemy? And I think a primary objection to his explanations was that positing invisible forces was basically saying magic existed (I’m drawing from my memory of Structure of Scientific Revolutions here).
Anyway, I’d love to see the idea of science and history explored more. Interested to see what the author does next. Mechanically, I also think there needs to be more responsiveness to questions and verbs. If an old woman tells me I’ve been subjected to a “phenomenon” I should at the very least be able to ask about “phenomenon”. Took me a while to realize the game just wanted me to leave and go outside.