IFComp 2015: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!   5 comments

By Steph Cherrywell. Finished using Gargoyle with two hints.


brainguzzle

You are a girl (Bonnie) in a generic 50s town (Canyonville) and your boyfriend was just eaten by a monster.

The game is oriented as if the characters are in an actual 50s B-movie, with occasional references in the parser itself.

>
(We’re still rolling here!)

> x wall
(That’s not one of the available props in this scene.)

There’s a lavish illustrations and Ms. Cherrywell manages to pull off harder-than-it-looks comedy writing with aplomb.

You hop into the car, which rolls forward into the haunted house. A metal cuff snaps shut around your wrist. What an experience! The laziness and lack of attention to detail on the part of the staff is truly TERRIFYING! The implications of this shoddy workmanship, when you consider the importance of the American work ethic to beating the Russians, are enough to fill you with BONE-CHILLING FRIGHT! However, you don’t actually die. As the car creaks its way past the last cardboard tombstone and into the light, the cuff on your wrist squeezes and a hidden heart monitor beeps. “Ah, a heartbeat! You’ve managed to survive!” a recorded voice chortles tinnily, “…THIS TIME!”

What’s even more rare is that Brain Guzzlers also manages to nail participatory comedy in the puzzles. At multiple points I was laughing at puzzle solutions that I was enacting myself (I especially liked making the spork).

There’s a crazy-science cannon that took me a beat before I realized what it was used for.

> x cannon
A sleek, futuristic gun with three brass barrels. It’s bulky and looks powerful, but it’s light enough to hold in one hand. There’s a dial you can turn on the side under a display. Currently the display is showing an image of a hand with the palm and all five fingers lying flat, like a fascist salute.

> turn dial
You turn the dial until you hear a click. Now the display shows a hand with the index and middle fingers extended.

> turn dial
You turn the dial until you hear a click. Now the display shows a hand curled into a fist.

> turn dial
You turn the dial until you hear a click. Now the display shows a hand with the palm and all five fingers lying flat.

Really, this is terrific and exactly the sort of game I’d toss to a beginner who wants to see what parser IF is like. However, since a critic’s grumpy work is never done, I do want to quibble with two puzzles near the end (after spoiler space).

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Both of these puzzles were where I needed hints.

Issue #1) There’s a bit where you have to talk to plants. I’ve read over the description multiple times and other than being in a weird-science universe I don’t see any motivation for the action whatsoever. Probably it would help if a.) the plants were mentioned more prominently in the room description and b.) there’s some vague hint that talking might help.

Issue #2) There’s a screen at the drive-in from the beginning of the game. The screen is not mentioned at all and the only way to know about it is to remember the scene from the very beginning of the game (and even then, I just assumed it got destroyed or was a bit of scenery I wasn’t supposed to care about).

Both problems are fixable by the author, presuming they are reading this and are accepting my mentally-enhanced telepathic waves ( … you feel them, right?)

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Posted November 11, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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5 responses to “IFComp 2015: Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!

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  1. Yeah, I’m not 100% sure anymore but I think I hit up the hints for the plant puzzle too. (The screen, on the other hand, I lucked into by complete accident while running around everywhere. I don’t even remember what exactly I did — maybe something as prosaic as an offhand “take all”? But I kept thinking I was supposed to pull off the silo door or something for the “perforated sheet”.)

    IIRC the hint system was the tiered/graduated kind? Those are really nice for letting the player control their experience. And oh man, the writing is *so good*.

  2. I think both of those puzzles you had trouble with were things that I figured out from conversation content. As I recall, I asked one of the characters about the perforated sheet and they gave a described it, and I immediately had a light bulb moment about the object I needed to fetch. (And was amused that that was what I needed.) So that worked for me, but I can see how it might not for others.

    • Since I assumed the screen did not exist (plenty of other parts of the town changed even more drastically), I would have had trouble thinking of it. But I can see your logic there.

  3. I managed to solve both of those puzzles mentioned. I was given instructions to talk to the plant by another character nearby. I had examined the movie screen much earlier in the game, and although I was not able to make that connection to the final puzzle immediately, I got to it after stumbling around for a bit. The puzzle I had to look for answers on was much earlier in the game…the goat.

  4. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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