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About the Story
What do you do when you get stuck in a cell with that annoying rival agent of yours who's been the bane of your existence for years?
52nd Place (tie) - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Intelmission is primarily a long conversation, with an introductory segment.
You and another spy are captured together and have to talk. The game features many many topics, and makes you aware at the end of how many you explored. You can choose what to discuss, or allow the game to choose for you after a certain time.
In a way, this game reminded me of Mirror and Queen. Both are conversational games with a ton of work behind-scenes to provide many topics and allow for user flexibility. But in both games, that flexibility gets communicated to the user more as mirroring what you choose rather than gaining new information. There were few surprises, narrative twists and turns.
I did enjoy this one though, and Mirror and Queen.
Intelmission is a long, choice-based, conversation-focused game made in Unity. You play as secret agent Selena Jones, gathering information at a party. You run into your archrival, Ben, who works for a different agency. Ben has a history of interfering with your missions.
And he messes this one up, too. The two of you are captured and thrown in a cell together. The vast majority of the game is a dialog between you and Ben.
Conversation-focused games aren't really my preference in IF, but it seems to me that they succeed or fail on the strength of the writing. Do the characters have well-defined personalities? Are the topics of conversation interesting? Does the conversation gating work, in the sense that asking certain questions leads to new, compelling topics?
Intelmission partially succeeds here, I think. The characters do have well-defined personalities. Ben is the stronger of the two: He comes across as that guy in a bar who's hitting on you and just won't give up. He's clearly full of himself, constantly asking Selena for affirmation that she thinks he's hot or that she's in love with him. He also frequently opines on his life philosophy and what's wrong with the world and with Selena. I found it a little hard to take him seriously: With all his flirting and negging of Selena, he comes across as immature. But he is well-drawn, with a distinct personality.
Selena isn't quite as strong a character; she's less sure of herself, and often she's merely reacting to Ben. I think Intelmission would have been a more interesting game if Selena's character were more of an equal foil for Ben.
Much of the conversation revolves around Ben's and Selena's relationship and past history. This was interesting, but it felt to me like it dragged on a little long. This effect was probably hindered by a couple of technical difficulties: I couldn't see all my dialog options sometimes. If there were three, the third one was usually hidden underneath the scroll window. Also, the trigger for the next piece of dialogue didn't seem to take into account the length of the most recent passage. This meant that some of the one-word dialog bits stayed on the screen for much longer than needed, while some of the longer ones went by quite fast.
As far as conversation gating leading to new interesting topics, much of the time the conversation felt like it was on rails. Many of the choices that I tried to skip kept coming back as options and sometimes as the only option, so I was eventually forced to select them. Overall, I couldn't tell how much my choices actually affected the story.
At the end, though, the game told me that I had explored 59/156 conversation topics and 1/24 secret topics. So there's a lot more to the game than I saw. In particular, my impression of the game being on rails does not appear to have been accurate, as there are plenty of probably interesting conversation topics that I missed.
If you like conversation-focused games, especially ones with flirty bantering, you might want to give Intelmission a try.