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20 Exchange Place

by Sol FC

Gritty, realistic, short

(based on 11 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Sink or swim in the concrete pool.

"This is what you do. This is what you've been trained to do. You've done it before. You just have to keep a cool head."

A short-form, multi-ending, high-octane race against a ticking clock in the heart of New York City circa 2006.

Can you tread water and work your magic? Or will you sink and drown?

Content warning: Contains scenes of violence, death, and hostage negotiation.

Game Details


49th Place - tie - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)


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Number of Reviews: 3
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Short, non-sensical game about trying to recapture a bank from robbers, October 11, 2023
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 30 minutes, IFComp 2023

In this choice-based game you play as some sort of a cop trying to recapture a Manhattan bank from 6-7 robbers/culprits who have barricaded themselves inside. Even though the blurb talks about hostage negotiation I didn't do any of that, maybe I didn't get far enough in the game, but the PC starts out with no other options other than to plan the infiltration of the banks by "Spec-Ops" guys.

So I played through once and got a bad ending. The thing was that the game gives you absolutely no clues as to how to avoid a bad ending. You aren't given any information, just asked to start making decisions. I briefly went back and played another branch of the game making a different choice for how to breach the bank and got the same ending. I wasn't interested enough to try again.

I feel like the author was trying too hard with some of the wording to make it sound authentically New York, with phrases like "grey-shirts", "silver-badges", and "Spec-Ops", plus at least one "yous guys". But Spec-Ops strikes me as a more military term (though I've only visited NYC so maybe I'm wrong), and the constant use of the terms "robbers" and "culprits" feels real dated for a game set in 2006. There were a number of other well-worn tropes that popped up as well. Finally, 20 Exchange Place in Manhattan is a skyscraper, not a 4-story bank building, and there isn't a Westward street anywhere in the Financial District that I can tell. Just a lot of misplaced steps in this game.

Solid coding. The author's diction and style might make for a good transition to hard-boiled noir fiction. This game was just a miss for me.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Unnecessarily cruel, November 14, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

20 Exchange Place is hostage-situation high-stake game where you play a Sergeant trying to solve a sticky situation. The game offers multiple consequential choices, with many leading to a bad ending. I would rate this game Cruel on Zarf's difficulty's scale. I know it is possible to reach a "good" ending, but didn't manage even with my many attempts.

This game is... frustrating, especially as someone who wants to do good when playing game, and strive to reach at a minimum the least harmful ending as possible. I usually don't mind replaying, until I find a (somewhat) satisfying result. But here, I gave up after a good half-dozen try. And savescuming is difficult with Ink (only one slot, not possible to go back to a previous choice). Meaning you often need to go through the whole game again to change one thing.

20 Exchange Place is very much a "golden"/"only-one-true" path type of game, and if you stray from it, you will face harsh consequences. And while each failed state will get its own extensive variation, having to restart the whole thing every time (especially when you are pretty far along) is tedious at best.

The difficulty of the game is that you are pretty blind when choosing what to do next, as there are little to no indications in the text about the correct choice/approach, which is frustrating when the PC is supposed to be a veteran on the job (or are you just that stupid?). Even choices characterised as "safe" lead you down a bad path.
This is kinda the type of game where you need some sort of walkthrough...

While the prose does a good job at setting the scene, and pushing the high-stake envelope about the situation, I also found it awkward at times. This was made even more obvious with the missing punctuation in the dialogues, or the censoring of "bad" and "swear" words, which, considering the indicated genre and content warning, feels out of place.
Is hell a bad word? I think it was most in the context of swearing...

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A difficult, branching Ink game about hostage negotiation, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a pretty tricky ink game. I had to play it around 10 to 13 times to win, even using saves. I didnít realize that one of the keys to winning was (Spoiler - click to show)steadying your nerves with a cigarette. At least I think thatís what happened. But it would make sense, since itís in the cover art.

This a hardboiled NYC cop thriller, kind of like NYPD Blue (although I donít remember much of that show as I wasnít allowed to watch it. One of the first network shows with nudity!). You are a hostage negotiator at a bank robbery and have to find the best strategy for capturing the thieves and freeing the hostages.

After many, many attempts, I was able to free all the hostages, although the criminals went free.

On the one hand, I felt like it was too hard to strategize in this game, as there werenít many clues as to what path is best. On the other hand, it was short enough that I could try multiple things on multiple attempts.

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