Fix Your Mother's Printer

by Geoffrey Golden profile

Slice of Life, Humor

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Number of Reviews: 9
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Light but enjoyable, October 13, 2023
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

It had to be a printer. Printers are evil. I'm relatively tech savvy, but the one computer accessory that I look at with trepidation is the printer. There's so much that can go wrong, and it's all so unclear. I mean, it would have been easy for Geoffrey to focus on a tech issue that makes the protagonist's mother look like an elderly ignoramus. But the steps needed to solve this printer problem are completely realistic, and realistically maddening. (Spoiler - click to show)Why can't that stupid printer just tell you that the paper is missing from the second tray? God knows that I have desperately clicked options like 'deep nozzle clean' in the hope that it would magically solve whatever unfathomable problem I had in the past. Also, after I tried to clean a printer with a leaking ink cartridge, I've sworn an oath to never every buy another inkjet printer... but (a) I ended up with a laser printer that somehow got toner in the inner machinery, and (b) my wife later bought another inkjet printer anyway. So printers are stronger than oaths, is all I'm saying.

In a sense, the tech issue in Fix Your Mother's Printer is only there to give a framework for family conversations. That too is very realistic. The practical is the justification, and then of course your mother wants to talk to you -- and at least as I played the protagonist, they also didn't mind talking to their mother. I liked the conversations, which hit some good personal notes and add interest to the game. It seemed to start out a little silly, with the mother's obsession for topiary, but ended up at a slightly more serious level that seemed to fit the game as a whole quite well.

I have two points of criticism, one about what the game sets out to achieve, one about how it sets out to do so. The former kind of criticism is always a little fraught: shouldn't I just judge a game on its own terms? Maybe. But I think Fix Your Mother's Printer could have been more memorable if it had given up on its intention to stay at the level of the light-hearted. These people have a bond, but they also have problems, and it would have been interesting and possible affecting if their bond had actually helped them gain more insight into those problems. One does not feel that (Spoiler - click to show)reconciliation between the parents comes any closer, or that the protagonist has gained any real insight into their romantic hang-ups. I would have loved the game to be more ambitious in that regard, even if it would have meant straying from the current tone.

The more internal criticism has to do with the choices we are being offered. There are way too many moments when the choices come down to "(A) be mean, (B) be neutral, (C) be nice". It felt a bit like the unfortunate type of CRPG dialogue (far too prevalent even in otherwise great games like Baldur's Gate 2) where the dialogue options often come down to "(A) be evil, (B) be neutral, (C) be good". It's not very interesting. It's not very clear why anyone would choose being nasty to their mother. And crucially, it means that you're making exactly *one* choice: your attitude. And then the rest of the game is just you either choosing the option that fits your attitude, or turning the character into a tonally inconsistent mess. The dialogue could have been more interesting if the author hadn't felt the need to support three tones throughout the game, and had instead focused on more interesting aspects of characterisation.

All in all, this game is simply very enjoyable.

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