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About the Story
You are awoken, startled by a sound in the night. Still bleary from dreams, you turn on the light to chase away the shadows. But there, beyond the safety of your room, something moves in the darkness. It is long past midnight, and a wolf is at your door. [blurb from IF Comp 2008]
11th Place - 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2008)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This is the first of the games i’ve tried so far this competition that I can truly say I enjoyed, wholeheartedly. It wasn’t perfect, or anything even close – it caught me in a bit of a picky mood i’m afraid. In anycase, I was irritated right from the start by the intro which really dropped the ball as far as writing quality goes. It was terse when it should have been setting the scene. I found this particularly odd given the attention shown to detail – like a reasonable covert art submission which is something you don’t often see in ifcomp games. I think this may have been an oversight as it got far smoother later in the game.
Good attention was paid to the environment, which is something I always look for early on in a game. Searching the early rooms in the game just about every noun was implemented with something. Not always perfectly, some things that stick out are you can open and search the dresser without getting out of bed, if you take Celia’s clothes out you can examine the dresser and see it overflowing with your clothes, then search it and be told it is empty. Also, if you have searched the room and taken Celia’s clothes (or even merely opened the dresser) then you cannot take your own clothes and get dressed, something that can be quite confusing. One other thing about the first room, I think far too many things in the room directly mention Celia and how she’s gone now. Sure its backstory and goes to state of mind, and obviously he misses her very much, but it belaboured the point a bit I feel. By the time the character crawled out of bed I was well and truly sick of Celia and thought he was probably lucky to be rid of her.
A few other small things stand out. At one point attempting to read a book points out that it’s too late, rather than points out that there is a giant wolf on your porch making that ill-advised. Also, lets be honest. How dense does the main character have to be (Spoiler - click to show)– it’s a full moon, it’s a wolf in the middle of town who you splint, and you wake up with a naked woman in your bed, with splint, and…. what? Not even the inkling, crazy as it is?
That leads into the operation scene and the following interactions where the main character is told about (Spoiler - click to show)Merissa being a werewolf which further points to the immeasurable denseness of the main character. There are almost shades of Lovecraft in this story as the character’s mind is described and being close to snapping – a very Lovecraftian twist that but unfortunately inexpertly described. When the operation is complete and the (Spoiler - click to show)babies are described, definitely the highlight of the game and quite original, and the main character’s perspective… shifts… this is quite well written. However the panic he experiences when talking to Marissa and she claims (Spoiler - click to show)to be a werewolf was unrealistic, flat and inappropriate. Lovecraftian panic and madness is brought on by -seeing- things, experiencing things impossible and beyond the norm. Not simply being told things, it’s easy to laugh off and disbelieve simple words. Not to mention that the idea of her being (Spoiler - click to show)a werewolf shouldn’t have been quite -that- much of a shock really, not after the moon, the split, the (Spoiler - click to show)half-wolf-half-human puppies. It’s not like there wasn’t warning that something strange was coming up now was it.
The ending was fairly obvious in the lead up and I must admit I played towards being (Spoiler - click to show)furry at the finish. I didn’t go back for any of the other endings, but it tied up the plot nicely and the character interactions were interesting. I’ve always liked character conversations driving plot branches as a gameplay mechanic, but as i’ve mentioned before i’ve always preferred story to puzzles.
On the whole a decent little game that, with a little polish, could be quite recommendable. Well done Clare.
This review was originally published on Silicon Dreams during the 2008 Interactive Fiction Contest.
I played this game last year, maybe two years ago, but couldn't pass the first scene. There are so many finicky steps, and its buggy (6 kinds of pill bottles cause a nightmare).
But, following the walkthrough, you find a touching and compelling story. I quite enjoyed it. Many of the surprises you can guess ahead of time, but there are enough surprises that I'd rather not reveal any of them.
The interactivity is really messed up, and its not super polished, but it's otherwise great.
This is a very promising debut game whose competition version was undermined by several problems in implementation. The game however is imaginative, ambitiously plotted, and interestingly written, so it's an already enjoyable experience with especially strong potential if the author does a post-competition release.
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