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Paintball Wizard

by Doug Egan

Comic puzzler
2023

Web Site

(based on 6 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

Sure, I know Quidditch: expensive and impossibly complex game played by fictional wizards at an imaginary boarding academy. The guys in my house (frat house, that is) came from marginal high schools where we were afraid to identify as wizards to our non-magical classmates. Here in college we've formed our brotherhood. The sport we pursue on Saturdays away from campus is mystic paintball.

Learn spells, hang with the brothers, compete for the title of Paintball Wizard.

Content warning: The brothers help one another through episodic memories of childhood trauma.


Game Details


Awards

13th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Frat brothers cast spells at each other and bond, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

I like this game, one that I tested it. Even though itís longer, I replayed the whole thing before this review, and one of the hardest puzzles in my current WIP was influenced by a puzzle in this game that I really liked.

Itís a Twine game with a parser influence. Like Scott Adams style games, the screen is split into an upper and lower part, but unlike them, the bottom remains mostly static while the top changes. The game has quadratic complexity, as you choose an action and then choose a noun to apply it to, which can be an object in -game or yourself on the sidebar.

Gameplay revolves around discovering and using new spells, which are in a two-syllable format. Over time, the spell system develops some complexity and richness.

Story-wise, you are an initiate in a fraternity of wizards, completing your final initiation: a magical paintball tournament. You have to defeat your brothers while also coming to know them.

Iíve seen some concerns in other reviews about the way you get to know them: by casting a spell that lets you live out other peopleís memories, generally their most traumatic. The original version of the game did not include explicit consent for that action, while the most recent does.

From my point of view (which is subjective), this game is clearly fantasy. Not just wizards and spells fantasy (though it has that), but also a fantasy of friendship and understanding. The dream of having a circle of friends so close that you can share anything between you. In fact, there are a lot of clues in the paintball game itself that the whole thing is kind of a setup, a way for people to get to know you; itís really quite possible that this mind sharing was intended.

ExceptÖparts of the game indicate that the mind spell is newly rediscovered and exciting.

But thatís one aspect of the game I only really noticed now as a player. Itís really trying hard to tell three different stories at once:
1-A goofy game of paintball between fraternity friends with whacky spells and silly pledge rules
2-A dark and serious exploration of humanityís injustice to those who are different from them
3-A heartwarming tale of acceptance and overcoming insecurity.

So I think part of the problem other reviewers identified isnít so much that the idea of furrowing through someoneís mind is inherently bad for a story, but that the significance of events and characters takes on really different shades of meaning depending on which part of the story theyíre in. Riptide, the frat brother in a treehouse, is a comic individual; Riptide, the oppressed child who essentially experienced torture, is not (I think that was the right character, but Iím not sure).

Overall, though, I enjoyed each subplot separately and found them worthwhile, but Iím not sure they coalesce into a greater whole (something Iíve been concerned about with my own game, which has a similar mix of the flippant and the dark).

Puzzle-wise, itís outstanding, but also very difficult. Iíd likely chalk up the low number of reviews to the puzzles, which are among the most difficult Iíve seen for choice based games of this size, requiring several leaps of intuition and a lot of experimentation. I had to get help several times on my first playthrough, but none this time around.

Overall, I found this satisfying.

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This is version 11 of this page, edited by Doug Egan on 22 November 2023 at 11:30am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page