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About the Story
After endless months of indoor recess, an eager student's plan to try out his brand new sneakers is thwarted by one missing assignment. [blurb from IF Comp 2008]
15th Place - 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2008)
The opening scene of Recess At Last is very promising - well-written, atmospheric, and refreshing. The game itself, however, doesn't live up to these promises: the story turns out to be disappointingly straightforward and uncomplicated, and the puzzles - almost trivial. The game world seems to be developed pretty detailed (in spite of a few minor issues), but the player doesn't seem to have a sufficient motivation to explore it.
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This is an odd game. The author coded up a little puzzle where you find answer to homework questions and then type them in, together with one or two little fetch quests.
They then spent a great deal of time polishing that game and adding extra frills. But the core game is brief, and the means of completing it are clunky.
This is certainly a unique game.
The school year is currently in the dead of winter. Most recesses have been spent indoors but today's sunshine changes that. Today will be an outdoor recess. Even better, this will be a much-anticipated chance to test out your brand-new pair of sneakers. But at the last minute the teacher calls you back, saying that you cannot go outside because of a missing assignment.
You play as a fourth-grade student named Jamie Nelson. You need to turn in an "Explorer worksheet" about Vasco da Gama. There are two paths to approach this. If you look at the (Spoiler - click to show) blue folder in your desk you will discover that you have Daniel’s (your younger brother) schoolwork folder. This means Daniel must have your schoolwork folder containing the Explorer worksheet that you had already completed. The gameplay then consists of tracking down this folder to retrieve the missing assignment.
The other path is to (Spoiler - click to show) ask the teacher for a blank copy of the worksheet and fill in the answers. With this path you can consult the library for help. Neither of these paths are particularly exciting but at least it allows you to choose. This is followed by a puzzle about (Spoiler - click to show) finding some mittens, a coat, and a hat so the teachers allow you to go outside. This too is lackluster but does not take long to complete.
In the “about/introduction” section the game says, "The daily school routine of going out to recess, transformed into an epic quest." There is nothing epic about the gameplay although I like the author’s enthusiasm. The conflict is being unable to go outside because of a missing assignment but completing gameplay objectives does not reveal any plat developments or build upon the story. The result is that it does not always feel like a game. But, in all fairness, the game ensures that there are no lose ends or questions left unanswered. It may lack pizazz but at least it presents a consistent and laid-back story.
Jamie’s personality does shine a little bit. I liked the feeling of rebellion that occurs when he dares to open the door to the bus circle which is forbidden until the end of the school day. The rush and exhilaration of such an act is humorously described, especially since Jamie is normally well-behaved and would shy away from this behavior. The other characters are not particularly interesting, but Jamie’s descriptions of his teachers strongly convey the perspective of a young student.
It is bland but has no bugs. Everything is smooth and reasonably short. But there are still some upsides. In the credits section the author explains that he based this game off childhood memories, and this earnestness shows. And it might appeal to you if you are looking for a realistic school setting with a younger protagonist.
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