Her Majesty’s Trolley Problem

By Buster Hudson (Parser; IFDB)

This game was one of the games submitted for the Neinth Annual New Year’s Minicomp.

You are the first mate on HMT The Problem, ferrying your prisoner back to the Queen.

Her Majesty’s Trolley Problem has a richly built setting, reminiscent of China Miéville’s Railsea. Like Railsea, trains replace ships, and the land uncovered by rails holds deadly monsters. This game has the same feel of exploration and the same assortment of fancy lingo, which are here significant plot points.

What struck me was the way HMT Problem used the setting on a train, coupled with timed events, to provide the pacing very naturally. HMT Problem also uses locations as scenes, making the game much more story-based rather than location-based.

The game’s core decision-making points allude to the thought experiment the trolley problem, with complications added in each time the problem re-iterates. The parser format, working as it is in a constrained story universe, works to drive in a sense of ownership for the awful choices the player must make. The game tempers its otherwise grim tone with comedic moments – when you accidentally jettison equipment off the trolley, for instance, though it gets unexpectedly gruesome toward the later half.

HMT Problem is a wonderfully well-built game, with gorgeous, evocative writing and a solid story.

 

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