IFComp 2015: The Insect Massacre   1 comment

By Tom Delanoy. Finished three times on a computer using Firefox.


insect

The Insect Massacre casts you as a computer monitoring a research lab; a PhD student named Sally has been murdered, and you switch parts of the lab to monitor as the investigation unfolds.

The text is done entirely in dialogue. The most noticeable issue is a delay with each …. line …. being …. delivered …. slowly. It is a bad sign when my gameplay consists of clicking, doing some other chore or switching to another window, then coming back a minute later to continue reading.

Also, an uncomfortable amount of the dialogue is devoted to how beautiful Sally is.

I wish I had her hips.
​If you had, you’d be dead now.
​You know what I mean.
​Sure, but don’t you think it’s morbid?
​What?
​Being jealous of a dead person.
​Hey, that’s not what I meant! I only wish I had better hips. That’s all.

Thus the primary adjective I’d use to describe this game is “awkward”. The awkwardness is doubly amplified by a severe lack of choices. These only occur at the very end, so to discuss them I’ll need the traditional spoiler space.

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(seriously, only read if you’ve already played or have no intention of playing)

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So it gets revealed by the options given near the end that the computer itself was responsible for the murder, in collaboration with Sally who killed herself so she could upload herself into the system. That makes it sort of a … love story? However, the only way to reach the appropriate ending is to murder a group of people in the hydroponics bay by locking the doors and shutting off the oxygen. This consists of a sheriff, biologist, and a deputy. If the murder doesn’t happen, a scene occurs in engineering with engineer Soto who wants to shut down the computer to stop getting accused of Sally’s murder, but since Soto doesn’t die in the earlier scene, I don’t see how this particular fate can be avoided. Either a.) it becomes obvious the computer was acting on its own to murder the trio in the hydroponics bay, and gets shut down or b.) Soto still gets accused and shuts down the computer anyway. I supposed the intent might be this is a doomed romance, and Sally and the computer will be deleted no matter what the circumstances, but things were ambiguous enough it felt more like “plot hole” than “tragedy”.

To summarize: The Insect Massacre is a mostly static story with far-too-slowly appearing text and the only significant choice occurring near the end. I find the plot concept as a whole interesting, but the interactivity and endgame needed a better delivery.

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Posted October 28, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2015: The Insect Massacre

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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