QUIMER-B

By David T. Marchand (Twine; IFDB; play here)

From the creator of When acting as a particle / when acting as a wave comes a polished work of linear fiction about the creator of QUIMER-B, a virtual consciousness so powerful it could take over the running of a city, and, ever since its conception, a source of moral outrage. To prove QUIMER is capable of running a city, you’re going to put your whole facility under its control for one day. If you can prove that, then maybe it can handle the pressure from everyone else.

Except it never really goes to plan, does it?

QUIMER-B is part epistolary, part first-person narration of an apocalypse in action. This game has a good grasp of pacing, creating tension through static and dynamic text. It sometimes uses the mechanic of clicking to draw out a scene, or to contrast it with the timed appearance of a piece of text.

Compellingly written and story-driven, this game’s strength is in sketching out the story – and the relationships between the PC and NPCs – and in letting the reader draw their own conclusions from these snippets. It’s a bit like watching an opera with minimal backdrops, where it just takes a few props to suggest a palace, or a battlefield.

It’s worth having a click through this short, polished game.

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A Courier’s Tale

By SJ Griffin (Twine; IFDB; play here)

Based on the Vanguard Trilogy by the same author, you play a newbie bike messenger working as one of the cogs in the premier courier company, Packet. One of the perks of working here is meeting the legendary Sorcha Blades… which, of course, is what happens when she needs a decoy messenger.

This game is a moderately branching story which takes the PC through an expansive setting, reminiscent of China Miéville or Emily Short’s City of Secrets, and gives the sense of an extensively mapped-out city. Neighbourhoods are given characters of their own; distinct communities live in different parts of the city. The story attempts to illustrate a dangerous city running amok with criminals and secret dangers, in a city so starved of resources that fresh fruit is a minor luxury, but nothing really affects the PC directly. The story structure is simple; clearly the focus is on the writing itself.

The writing itself, however, is not terribly polished; there are typos and missing punctuation marks, there are missing words, there could be more paragraph breaks to let the text breathe. As a spinoff from the source material, I guess it’s no surprise that it ended just as it was getting interesting! If it was expanded to elaborate on the hook mentioned in the last part of the game, and polished a lot more, I think it would make for very interesting reading.

Elsewhere

By Stacey Mason (Twine; IFDB; play here)

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(Screenshot of game – white text on brown background: “Rations for your building reset at midnight. It’s 11:56. You’re itchy, dirty. Your clothes smell. If you want water tonight, you’d better be ready.”)

A little break from IFComp games – I found this game thanks to Games We Care About (@games_we_care).

This game was written for the Twiny Jam, meaning this game was written within 300 words. In South America, the Water Wars are raging, but, for you, you’re more concerned about your own building’s water ration. It starts at midnight, and if you start early enough, maybe you’ll have enough for a shower, to flush the toilet and wash your clothes today.

The thing I found interesting was how it used the cyclinglink macro – Mason used it to implement steps of a routine, such as preparing for a shower. This, combined with timed text, created a sense of urgency appropriate to the situation. The game is limited in scope, but there are hints to a mildly dystopic future – hints of a wider world, and that made it feel less like a short game per se, but rather a limited window into the author’s world.

Square Circle

by Eric Eve (TADS; IFDB page)

You are a prisoner for a crime you don’t remember committing, and your only chance of escape is to draw a square circle.

Kafkaesque is a word many have used to describe this game, and indeed a sense of claustrophobia pervades the entire escape attempt. The writing is solid and sometimes witty; most visible objects were implemented. It was, however, marred for me with imperfect line breaks and the occasional “infodump”.

Balance between story and puzzles was probably a tough call here. There is plenty of both, which provides for a rich playing experience, but the delivery of major plot points was often delivered as an uninterrupted chunk of text. Reading the ‘infodump’ like that broke the flow of the story and, for me, lessened the impact of the most major twists.

The puzzles were well-hinted with contextual hints, and there are multiple solutions to some of the puzzles. Despite this, the puzzles are not easy. For me, solutions weren’t immediately obvious and I often referred to the hints. I found it hard to find that moment of enlightenment when solving the puzzles, partly because there wasn’t enough material with which I could experiment. Also, it seems to be possible to put the game into an unwinnable state, probably meriting its Nasty rating on the Forgiveness scale.

Conversation in Square Circle also merits some mention, with most topics of conversation given an appropriate response. As with Blighted Isle, Eve also includes some natural-sounding responses to topics for which the NPCs do not have an answer – a thoughtful, and also playful, gesture.

Square Circle is technically strong, with a well-thought-out story and interesting puzzles. There is a good twist towards the end, and perhaps could adopt a more strongly consistent tone, but well worth playing.