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About the Story
A guided role-playing experience with some light puzzles, semi-optional combat, an extremely inexperienced GM and an imminent apocalypse.
Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2018 XYZZY Awards
38th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
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Number of Reviews: 2
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StupidRPG is a mid-to-longer-length parser game that simulates a session of a role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons, complete with a not fully competent Game Master. As far as I can tell, the author has written the parser and interface. It’s somewhat Quest-like, in that you not only have a parser but you can also click on a hyperlinked object, which then gives you a short menu of ways to interact with the object. If both the parser and interface were actually created by the author, they alone constitute an impressive piece of work.
The game itself is a comedy. The GM makes several humorous mistakes, most notably (Spoiler - click to show)failing to load the correct module for Act 2. Instead, he loads a backup from when the story was a different genre altogether (!). The font and background color in this older module... oh, my eyes!
The GM also dialogues with some of the characters in the story. In addition, one of your items takes you aside to make some comments about the GM’s “ignorance.” There are puns galore - groan-worthy puns that still elicit a chuckle even while you’re enduring the pun-ishment. The text itself takes a tone that can come across as silly, amusing, or hilarious, depending on your mood and tastes in comedy. In fact, I can see people having lots of different reactions to the humor in StupidRPG. For me, it worked most of the time.
Also, StupidRPG features multiple levels of awareness of itself: You’re playing a game mediated through the voice of the parser, and that game is itself a simulation of another game mediated through the voice of the GM. Who is not entirely competent. All the different ways that these levels of awareness interacted with each other in StupidRPG was my favorite part of playing it.
The RPG elements don’t seem to figure into the story much. I had a choice between several races - and, later, several professions - but these didn’t seem to affect gameplay a lot. I only saw one very minor place where my race affected the text (I don’t think it affected the gameplay at all). There was one important place where my profession mattered, though: (Spoiler - click to show)In the final boss battle, where my attempt to use my wizardly skills to cast a cantrip failed spectacularly and turned the final boss into a toad.
There are several monsters, but (Spoiler - click to show)you generally don't fight them. I even walked right past a troglodyte once and never interacted with him again. The exception was the endgame, where you do have a final boss to defeat.
All of this turns the experience of playing StupidRPG into something closer to a parser comedy than an RPG (which I’m sure is the intent). As a parser game, it feels fairly linear, and the puzzles tend to be straightforward. The one exception was (Spoiler - click to show)hugging the wyrmling. I'm thinking I missed a clue somewhere, but if not, I don't know how I would have ever gotten that without the walkthrough.
Overall, StupidRPG is a much cleverer game than the title would indicate - with a great deal of content and multiple levels of awareness of itself.
StupidRPG is a long game, split up into several acts in multiple genres. It has a custom parser with hyperlink shortcuts, and uses quite a few tricks and techniques to spice up the visual presentation.
The biggest drawback to me is that the interface is clunky, which detracted from both my emotional investment and sense of interactivity. The game has a dungeon master that types slowly, leaving large spaces of time where you have to sit and wait for it to type out. You could leave, make a small sandwich, and come back before it finishes, sometimes. Also, the custom parser isn't up to the standards of, say, TADS or Inform 7, which caused some frustration.
The writing is amusing and the settings, especially later on, are imaginative, with puzzle mechanics involving multiple worlds. I just wish I didn't get so frustrated with the interface.
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