Deus Ex Ceviche

by Tom Lento and Chandler Groover profile


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A game about fishy religious computers, October 17, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

In Contrast to much of Chandler Grooverís earlier work, this game is written in unity, with Tom Lento providing art and programming.

As someone whoís been working on a Chandler Groover-themed amusement park parser game for years, my initial thought was ĎWhere do I fit this in?í (maybe the food truck?)

Beyond that, though, this game definitely fits into the pattern for Grooverís recent IFComp entries, which tend to be much more experimental and less formulaic.

In this case, we have a complicated UI system that involves dragging and dropping tiles while a Clippy-like goldfish provides helpful tips in the corner. Doing so unlocks additional tiles with additional features, which raise and lower stats by various amounts, with the goal of reaching an arbitrary number for three of those stats.

Having played through most of the comp by now, my mind brought up umprompted comparisons to other games. The drag and drop visual system reminded me of Saint Simonís Saw and its unity card system, also involving dragging rectangles into rectangles. The complex mechanics and arbitrary number goals reminded me favorably of Ascension of Limbs. The fishy religion reminded me of Call of Innsmouth. And the overall elaborate strategy guide and overly helpful fish reminded me of the controversy surrounding Amazing Quest.

So maybe this game lies at the core of the whole comp in a weird sense that oddly ties in with the gameís own themes. The main idea here is some kind of bio-mechanical-theological construct that is malfunctioning and emitting brine, and which you must patch up through various rituals which have an unintended transformative gestalt effect (just throwing random words together here and hoping they mean something).

Is it a good game? Is this complex combination of art, interactivity, words and design actually fun?

Well, it really annoys me how the top 2 boxes are almost the same color, and that on the little save disks the colors are switched. I finally realized that I could hover something over the middle box and if it looked Ďtransparentí due to the colors matching then it matched. Iím not sure the little diskís middle color was the exact same shade as the big stackís top color or not.

I donít know, you can throw together all sorts of things and little UI decisions can matter more than all your careful preparation. But after I got over that hump, and once I realized that brining could be good, I enjoyed the game and actually quite enjoyed the ending. I was assigned a specific ending style (dominant), but since thereís no guide to endings and Iím not sure how I could play differently (except maybe brining myself to death or completing the rituals in a different order?) I think Iíll leave it right now. This isnít my favorite Chandler Groover game if, for nothing else, the fact that I admire quick text games that can be resized in any window and allow blindingly-fast play (some of my reasons for preferring parser and non-timed Twine games), and this game doesnít have those things. I donít view moving from text to unity as a positive progression for my own personal interests, but I can 100% say that this is the best use of Unity Iíve seen for telling a narrative.

+Polish: Eminently polished
+Descriptiveness: Many, varied and unusual micro-stories
+Interactivity: By the end I liked it
-Emotional impact: Not really; the game structure and UI mechanizes the gameplay and alienates the player from the story, I believe intentionally.
+Would I play again? Not till I'm done with the other games, but I want to see if there are more endings.