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Falling Angel

by David Cornelson profile


(based on 3 ratings)
1 review

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
If salvation were this easy..., April 1, 2010

Before today, I didn't really understand the point of speed IF. Making good interactive fiction is hard, making it quickly is damn near impossible. I thought the best that could be said is that it allows for experimentation, and by labeling a work as "speed IF", the player is more inclined to treat its shortcomings favorably on the assumption that they may stem from a lack of time and not a lack of care and/or capability. I didn't realize until writing this review that speed IF competitions aren't completely free-form endeavors, and that authors are supposed to craft the story around a collection of random ideas.

Approaching this piece in ignorance of its origin, I found it to have an intriguing premise with a lot of potential for exploration. You play the part of a fallen angel, freshly released from Hell to complete some (undisclosed) nefarious assignment. As the action opens, you find yourself at a sort of crossroads, dreaming of a return to Heaven.

The writing quality is somewhat less than average, comprised mostly of straightforward descriptions not in keeping with the thematic tone. Though you play a supernatural being, little is done to offer you insight into that condition. Many, many questions beg for answers: What was it like to be an angel? What inner conflict led you to side with Lucifer? What is it like to work for evil? Why do you seek redemption now? What do you make of the human world today? Thematically, there is a rich, rich vein of possibility that this work barely scratches.

From a technical standpoint, The room implementation makes little sense -- several are nothing more than superfluous clones of each other. Object implementation is weak, but this is entirely expected in a work completed in a couple of hours. Also, you earn 10 points before you do anything in this game, for reasons that are unclear.

One interesting aspect of this work is the hint system.(Spoiler - click to show) The command "help" brings responses from God, and sometimes the Devil. In a work about temptation and salvation, this device offers numerous possibilities. When people face moral dilemmas, they are often depicted as having a little angel and a little devil on their shoulders. Who does an angel get?

Given all of my interest in the premise, the actual gameplay was something of a disappointment. Both good and evil paths are available, but it's not immediately apparent how to proceed on either. It would have made sense to outline the evil path in the opening description and be much vaguer in the hints about the good path(Spoiler - click to show), provided that the player is clued into his supernatural creation power some other way. The path to salvation is ridiculously short and easy, and does not require any difficult choices.

On the whole, this piece verges dangerously close to 1-star territory, but I liked the premise so much, and it inspired so much thought about what this story could be, that I give it an extra star for potential. If someone else were to give the same premise a more extended and polished treatment, it could easily become a classic.

For reference, the seed concept of this particular competition was: "Write a game that includes decency, a Toys-R-Us Bag of Rusty Lead-Painted Metal Bits, a cursed angel, and the phrase 'thy gills are as unclean as a lobster's arse'. Bonus points for including the darkness intrinsic to the human soul, alligators and the women who love them, or professional girls gymnastics." Although many of these items are ignored, I think it's to the piece's benefit -- no need to take such a serious premise in such a silly direction.

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