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About the Story
You're great at burning bridges and midnight oil, but figurative fire can't save you now.
32nd Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
5 Minutes to Burn Something! is pretty much your typical My Shitty Apartment game. Basically, you burned some toast, which set off your fire alarm, which automatically called the fire department, and the fire department doesn't look kindly on frivolous calls, so you need to actually burn something in the five minutes it takes for them to get here.
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This is a nice little puzzle game, with a great hint system and several endings; I found the finale exceptionally frustrating, however, as even after using the otherwise excellent built-in hint system, I simply didn't know what to do.
The 5 minute timer is a great gimmick that adds to the sense of urgency. Some of the puzzles are examples of 'game logic'; that fiddly, highly specialized language of IF puzzles. Luckily the hint system is quite good.
That didn't help me with the finale, however; I have no idea what verb to use, and even the verbs used in the hints don't get the job done. If you don't guess right, you end up fighting the clock as you try to guess the proper verb, even with the right items & the right idea.
It's short on character (we mostly know about our character through her anger at her ex boyfriend, who sounds like a real jerk), but that's pretty par for the course on a tiny puzzle game like this.
(This is an edited version of a review I originally blogged during the 2015 IFComp.)
In 5 Minutes To Burn Something! you've got to start a fire in your apartment to cover the false alarm raised by your toaster before the firemen arrive, thus avoiding a false alarm fine. Sure, this is a damagingly uncivilised course of action, but the whole game leans obviously to the silly.
5 Minutes is an incarnation of the most staple of staples of the IF Competition: A parser game in which you have to solve an impractical physical problem in a closed environment using a disparate bunch of props before a time limit runs out. Other staple factors include the environment being the player's apartment, a wack approach to humour and the prose's fixation on the PC's crummy ex.
5 Minutes does all its basic stuff right and exhibits some touches of advanced mindfulness: Certain commands don't waste your precious turns, there's a complete and context-sensitive hint system, some text is formatted in colour, etc. It's an old school-leaning adventure in the sense that the relationships between the puzzles and the solution objects can be pretty abstruse; it certainly requires a try everything on everything mindset embracing kitchenware, bathroomware and miscellaneous apartment crap. The implementation is too fuzzy for the fiddliness of the puzzles, leading to some guess the verb problems and uneasiness about whether you've really investigated each prop thoroughly.
I did come to feel that I knew my apartment very well during play, but the PC's constant harping on her ex-boyfriend through the lens of object descriptions tired me. This was the primary means of giving the PC some character. The danger with this game's kind of wack tone is that it can easily blanket all of the content. If I found the conjured boyfriend to be a caricature of a jerk, I found the PC to be a caricature of someone who dated a jerk and then never shut up about it. So I didn't find the game to be as funny as it probably hoped it would be.
5 Minutes to Burn Something is a short-to-mid length IFComp 2015 game. It is about a woman who needs to set something in her apartment on fire so she won't be fined for a false alarm.
The game is set into two parts; first, you try and set the fire. Then, you (Spoiler - click to show)have to frame your ex-boyfriend so you don't get arrested for arson.
The puzzles are clever and imaginative, but due to the detailed scope of the game, some implementation got left behind. Many reasonable synonyms of things are not implemented, or reasonable alternative to in-game solutions; for instance, as a fictional example, you might have a jar with a lid, where LOOK IN JAR says 'you see nothing', while OPEN LID will tell you 'You find a cookie and pick it up'.
I think theses issues will be fixed in a post-comp release. I really enjoyed the first part of the game, although the second part seemed a bit creepy.
Recommended for puzzle fans.
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