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About the Story
Sometimes you get an impulse you know you'd regret--especially in the face of an arbitrary task of questionable value. So when Grandmother asks you to bring her a cabbage, a sheep, and a stinky bear, what could possibly go wrong?
88th Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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This is just your standard river crossing puzzle, and if you've ever solved one before then this shouldn't take you more than about ten minutes. There's one tiny additional puzzle, but there's no red herrings as there's hardly anything to look at other than the cabbage, sheep, and bear you're trying to get across.
In fact, the game's entertainment is pretty much solely from all the ways you can lose. In that regard it's quite charming and I wish there were a dozen more ways to fail. Geng has a way with words and I am looking forward to future offerings from him.
Sheep Crossing is a parser-based game by Andrew Geng, published in 2020. In it, you need to take a bear, a sheep and a large cabbage to the other side of a river. If this setup sounds familiar, itís because the game is essentially presenting the age-old ďWolf, goat and cabbage problemĒ in an Interactive Fiction-format.
The writing and implementation are both pretty minimal. The game doesnít establish much of a tone beyond being mildly charming - itís first and foremost just a puzzler. And since the main puzzle is historical, you might already have a decent idea on how to solve it due to cultural saturation alone.
The game works as intended, and it has a few small secrets that you can read about from the ďamusingĒ menu after beating it. But itís overall a somewhat small and light affair, and it can lack surprise value too since the main puzzle is played pretty straight - (Spoiler - click to show)the only real curveball is having to find some grass first to get the sheep to comply. I think the game would have benefitted from going a bit further and possibly featuring some larger twist to the core idea. Still, it could be worth a try if youíre looking for a quick puzzler.
Sheep Crossing is a one-puzzle game, with no plot to speak of, and the puzzle is one that pretty much everybody has heard of and solved by the time theyíre seven. But wait, come back! Another way to recite the same facts is that itís a cute and charming take on a classic puzzle, and since neither the author nor the player need to pretend that figuring out the solution is the point, itís all about riffing on that premise and finding as many gags, and ways to fail at this beyond-simple task, as possible.
The clever touches begin with some canny substitution Ė the prototypical version of this puzzle involves some grain, a chicken, and a fox, I believe (itís the one where each will eat one of the others, and you need to take them across a river one at a time). But clearly, the bear on offer here is funnier than a fox, and a cabbage is likewise funnier than a sack of grain (the sheep vs. chicken matchup is closer, but letís give it to the sheep by decision). If you want to just get them across the river to grandmotherís house in the prescribed order, you face a slight barrier inasmuch as the sheep starts out too hangry to be manhandled into the boat, but this is easily remedied, and then itís off to grandmaís, well done, gold star for you.
The fun comes in when you try to mess things up. Obviously if you leave the wrong pair behind on a trip, game-ending acts of ingestion will occur in your absence. And there are myriad ways to fail beyond this, from tangling with the bear to chowing down on something yourself to deciding sod this for a game of soldiers and wandering off. There are lots, lots more, with many nonstandard verbs implemented with surprising detail. I donít want to spoil any more of the fun, but I found that the author had thought of the most of the ideas that popped into my head, often with different outcomes depending on which of the trio I was attempting to misuse.
For all that, this is still a ten-minute diversion, tops. And I didnít discover any unexpected interactions that led to alternate positive endings or revealed anything unexpected, which might have been nice Ė instead itís all just different ways to flub things up. This means itís easy to type undo and try again, but also somewhat reduces the novelty and potential surprise of trying new things. But the gag in its current form certainly works, and coming so late in the Comp for me, that was just what I was looking for.