Shufflecomp reviews (An Earth Turning Slowly, Light My Way Home, Out the Window, The Peccary Myth)   Leave a comment

An Earth Turning Slowly, by Mæja Stefánsson

She ran through her list of findings. “We’ve never had one quite like her. The diversity of simultaneous wounds, I mean, in a surviving specimen. There’s this long-standing hand-wave in paleopathology: we assume that multi-wound healing in dinosaurs was mediated the same way it is in birds, never mind the millions of years of intervening evolution. Now we can start to fill that gap in.”

This is a short story told in five parts about (essentially) a dinosaur. It uses an innovative system which mashes together parser commands and choice commands, and is (despite the author’s protests of being written in a rush) one of the most polished and professional entries I’ve come across in any competition.

There’s enough material for an essay, really, but I want to stick with one piece — the work gave me a feeling of true interaction with book-style dialogue. What I mean by that is IF dialogue tends to be either short bursts (with a system that amounts to either ASK ABOUT THE SANDWICH or 1: “Do you like your sandwich?” 2: “Would you like fries with that?”), or giant wodges of text (see The Legend Lives! which has multi-page conversations interspersed with the action). I don’t know if it’s the continuous scroll of text or the parser/choice hybrid that did it for me, but with An Earth Turning Slowly I felt like I was participating in a genuine dialogue that resembled a normal book without having control yanked away from me.

Light My Way Home, by Venus Hart

A huddled figure, crouched against the inside wall of the container, looks up with surprise as the shutter opens. The shutter squeals as it retracts fully, a loud buzz coming from the device.

The person unfolds themself from their crouched position and stands slowly. You watch them, entranced. They are the most beautiful person you have ever seen.

This story has a “protaganist as unusual/alien thing” going on with the main character which I’ve liked in other games that never fully clicked with me on this one. I think the implementation might be responsible? The ABOUT text explains the only verbs needed are out of a very limited set, but distance of the interaction combined with the sparseness of the prose left me without much to grip onto.

Out the Window, by Bramble Bobonong

Your bed is lying next to it, and opposite your bed is your desk, ‌which is empty of goods, and thus of meaning‌.

Did you hear that rock stars don’t trash their hotel rooms like they used to anymore? Come relive the 70s and 80s by throwing stuff out the window. It’s funny and short and does what it sets out to do.

The Peccary Myth, by Pergola Cavendish

A whole team of Punksmen are lying asleep, “knocked out,” inside a circle of vans and autos. They have been engaged in ***CENSORED*** and ***CENSORED*** recently. It does not require a detective to tell this lol. A stack of radios play some unnecessary sound nearby.

So in the future (or maybe, like, now) casual games are a form of mind control, so riots and panic occur when a rogue programmer adds a “time spent” feature to their clickfest. (Maybe this is the feature Nguyễn Hà Đông plans to add to Flappy Bird to make it “less addictive”.)

I was enjoying myself the most when I let the hip/surreal prose flow by. If I tried to think to hard about what my interaction meant, I got very confused. Fortunately there’s only one puzzle that requires any close attention (unfortunately I got very stuck and had to use the walkthrough to solve it).

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Posted May 22, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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