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The Kuolema

by Ben Jackson


(based on 11 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

An abandoned vessel is found, lost and adrift in the South China sea. Its radio is silent, there’s no sign of anyone on board. Your task: find out what happened, what cargo it was carrying and if it really is as empty as it seems.

As the ship powers on its blind course towards Chinese waters, you find yourself in a race against time. Uncover the mystery and avert a disaster that threatens to shake the world…



Google Forms is a very limited system not designed for interactive fiction and those limitations may end up being too frustrating for some. But for those willing to give it a try, this is an attempt to create an ambitious and complex choice-based narrative that pushes Google Forms to (and occasionally beyond) its limits.

It features a deep, compelling and lengthy story that slowly builds from part 1 to its thrilling conclusion in part 3. It’s fully illustrated - including locations, puzzles, letters, emails etc. It includes a variety of puzzles that try to use creative ways to get around the limited system. Whilst there’s no ‘save-game’ function, game progress is tied to the codes you discover – the notes you make are your save-game. A complete walkthrough is available to help ease play-through.

In the end, do the positives of the story outweigh the negatives of the system? That's for you to decide.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 5, 2023
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: Google Forms
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: uzupc0dhil9kaol


Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023


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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Beautifully executed on GForms, April 14, 2023

Very impressively designed on an unconventional platform. The mystery storyline (twists included) was intriguing enough for me to want to finish all five chapters at one go. Can be played without much reference to the walkthrough (I had to use it two to three times as I was stuck at a few puzzles in the later chapters). I liked how the puzzles became more difficult as one progressed in the game. Appreciated the informative details provided at the end as well. You could also explore multiple endings. Creating IF games just became a lot more accessible for those who are programming-naive. Highly recommended!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent use of a primitive system, April 12, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: Google Forms

Brief description: Awesome story in a primitive system - done very well!

From an IF viewpoint Google Forms is very primitive as it apparently can't store information in variables - at least that is my understanding from the author's design choices. Nor can you save your progress except for the text you have entered along the way is remembered by Google if you ever logged in. To account for this, the game is designed such that if you note down keycard codes, objects found etc. you can skip big parts of the game when you restart. In addition you can go to part II and III with links near the beginning in case you have already played part I and maybe part II. In practice this works very well.

The game is a sort of thriller mystery and starts out well with perhaps a common theme (well, it is very hard nowadays to come up with something completely new): An abandoned ship is found adrift and you will land on the deck to investigate...

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: N/A)
No parser. However, several puzzles are parser-like as you have to type the right keyword so that the solution is not given away through visible choices.

Atmosphere (Rating: 9/10)
The game starts out good but the atmosphere and tension increases in part III. Really good! First parts 8/10 in atmosphere, last part 10/10.

Cruelty (Rating: Merciful)
You can never ruin you chance of success and if you die there is a sort of "undo" (often named "rewind")

Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
Interesting and fun puzzles, some easy and a lot medium. There were a few I wasn't very fond of: Solving a complete crossword was too hard for me as English is not my mother tongue. Luckily, the embedded walkthrough provides the full solution to it. Also, a couple of puzzles required knowledge which many would probably need to solve via the internet, which is not in line with the plot as there is no internet connection available. (Spoiler - click to show)I am thinking of translating Russian and the city in the picture I could not recognize.

Overall (Rating: 9/10)
Starts out good and the final part is just excellent with some psychological themes that fits well into the story.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Dark secrets on a ship in Google forms, May 9, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This was a nice, mostly-grounded thriller on a ship. A lot of games like this with a dark, abandoned ship at night devolve into Lovcraftian horror (which I love), but it was nice to have a change of pace this time.

This game is written in google forms and relies entirely on passwords and, occasionally, branching for state tracking. This means that if you right everything down, you can come back to the game much later and speed through everything. It reminded me a bit of playing NES/SNES games like Mike Tyson's Punchout and Willow; we had a wooden beam near our living room we'd write down passwords on.

Overall, the speed and responsiveness was pretty good; the system doesn't work all that bad, except when I tried to open the walkthrough in another tab and everything got reset. Fortunately I had my notes, so it was very easy to catch back up. I ended up opening the walkthrough in another tab.

I'd say that writing and storytelling is very strong for my likes, with crisp and clear imagery and a slow-burn thriller plotline. Some parts didn't make too much sense, mostly serving as excuses to find more passwords, but there were a lot of dramatic moments.

The final parts really felt like an action movie. I lost momentum at one point trying to figure out how to activate the next portion of the narrative, but overall it worked well.

Love to see experimentation work out.

If you enjoyed The Kuolema...

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by radiosity on 17 April 2023 at 4:49pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item