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About the Story
You are one of the unlucky many to enter the maze. Will you be one of the lucky few to escape?
Contains brief strong language and some mature themes.
38th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)
Through the Shattered Lens
You May Not Escape! was designed using Inform and it’s a throwback to the classic text adventures that I used to play when I was a kid. Even the puzzle feels like a throwback. Can you navigate a maze? How many times to Scott Adams go back to that well? But You May Not Escape! is much more difficult and rewarding than the old games that it resmebles. This game requires some thinking. It requires some imagination. It requires that the player pay attention to what they’re reading. The game is well-written and I appreciated all the little details that made the maze so memorable. I especially liked the LED tickers the spelled out messages that were either menacing or encouraging, depending on how you read them. You May Not Escape! is challenging but rewarding.
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I really enjoyed Charm Cochrans previous game, and I was surprised at how different this was compared to that. That one was a religious-themed Twine game with good graphics and lush descriptions. This is a stripped-down parser maze.
It's well-implemented and runs smoothly. You are met at the beginning by a man who introduces himself to you and explains the maze. You then go through it.
While it seems hideously complex at first, the vast majority of the maze rooms have only one entrance and one exit. If mapping, it's only really necessary to write down the rooms with three exits, which are rare.
There are several layers of meaning in the game, from the base Inform implementation level (with little meaning in itself), to the maze itself, to the objects in the maze (like the lizard you can follow or string you can leave behind you), to the messages from Everyman and the LED tickers, to clear political statements that are plain and not symbolic (especially (Spoiler - click to show)the gravestones describing people who died from being denied an abortion for a non-viable pregnancy or who died without anyone using their real chosen name).
Overall, I enjoy surreal games and well-implemented games. I thought that a lot of the messages were delivered well, and if it is designed as a way to feel the frustration of being a marginalized person in a white male cishet-dominated world, I think it demonstrates it very well (also the frustration of caring about the climate or similar issues and getting a lot of promises that don't get acted on). But the main gameplay loop was not one that I enjoyed; a frustration simulator is still frustrating; a frustration parody is still frustrating; a metaphor for imprisonment through frustration is still frustrating.
But given that the game seems designed to incur those feelings, I can only conclude that the author has succeeded. Given that they've so far made an excellent Twine game and an very well-coded parser game, I can only expect that his next game will be brilliant.
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