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A Smart Scare for an Evening in, March 17, 2013
Last night I picked this game at random from the IFComp2012 folder hanging out on my laptop. And lucky me--I stumbled onto a gem!
BODY BARGAIN, while informed by Lange's musings on (Spoiler - click to show)plastic surgery and body modification, isn't a game weighed down by these topics. Approach this piece like you would, say, an episode of MONSTERS, or a particularly wild TALES FROM THE CRYPT comic, and I think you'll see what I mean.
The game's scenario is set in a sci-fi world, that scenario is tinged with horror (the kind of horror depends on how you play--(Spoiler - click to show)some decisions lead you towards a slasher-style story, other decisions a quieter, more disturbing tale).
Applause to Lange for her great handling of this game's atmosphere. BODY's tone is well-executed in both setting and its star NPC, Dr. Overclock (Could that name get any cooler? No.). Previous IF horror works (like DIVIS MORTIS) sometimes trip themselves up by inserting goofy jokes that detract from apocalyptic settings, but all the off-kilter stuff you find in BODY fits with the world of the story.
I was obedient during my first playthrough, unsure of where the scenario was heading. Upon replaying, I was delighted to find that a variety of decisions and scenarios had been implemented, dramatically changing the outcome of the story. Kudos to the author!
As one-off comics, TALES FROM THE CRYPT never gave you any more info than needed to get the scare across. What's really fun about BODY is how the extras fill in more backstory. Curious about Overclock? There's something there for you!
Regarding the content: (Spoiler - click to show)I don't go in for gore and splatter. (Did I read the author warning? Heck no! I just jumped in and played!) But the nice thing I find about reading horror (versus watching it) is that, in text, my inner director can adjust the gore level as needed. Sowas it squirm-inducing? Yes. But was it overkill? Nope. The author's choice to use clinical language for these bits was pitch perfect, in my opinion.
In short: a short game, smartly done--if you're the right audience for it!