IFComp 2015: Arcane Intern (Unpaid)   1 comment

By Astrid Dalmady. Finished with all three endings using iPhone.


Arcane Intern (Unpaid) is a Twine work with an introduction and three chapters. It took me about 20 minutes to get to the first ending.

You play as an intern at a book company that also happens to use magic. You are set the usual intern tasks of fetching coffee and making copies but with a twist (runes that keep slipping off the page when you try to make copies, for example).

I've had days like this at work.

I’ve had days like this at work.

The prose is well crafted and smooth and while there are moments of comedy, it’s not obtrusive or hackneyed.

There isn’t enough time to get to know any of the characters (even now, with my last replay 10 minutes ago, the only one I remember is the Janitor) but none of them had any grating features, either.

However….

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I had some major issues with the choice structure.

The introduction is linear with a starting room that you can read descriptions out of order. That’s fine.

The first chapter is mostly linear except for one bit which I think is a “do you want to show empathy for this person even though you have no allies in your company right now? y/n” decision; I doubt the choice for most players was anything other than yes.

Still I wasn’t too upset, but then I reached chapter 2. It’s a maze.

arcanelaby

This isn’t even a maze that has any kind of visualizable geography to it. At one point I was supposed to go “left” from a particular location but the links were all abstractions like the above, so I just had to go through every one. In the end I rammed through the entirety via ye olde random clicking (not even bothering to read the text descriptions any more) until I had everything I wanted.

Interestingly enough (although I only discovered this second time through) you can get a “map” such that you can just “go to” the objects you need in the maze (although one of the optional story bits is not possible this way). However, if this is a necessary feature of the game, why have the maze at all?

The third chapter involves making copies. Making… copies … and more copies … and then the player has to decide nothing is going to happen and quit of their own volition. After a short break, more copies! And then the main character gets fired.

There’s one item, if examined at exactly the right time, will let the player leave the company while still being able to wield magic. Hence there are three alternate endings. I didn’t feel clever or satisfied reaching this, however.

There was no active work on foiling the plot of the nominal “villain”, which often might not be a problem, but in this case it makes the overall arc be “come and see some magical effects that are only nominally explained, then leave”. While Arcane Intern is a pleasant enough ride, it needed something more substantial in the mix to be memorable.

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Posted November 14, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2015: Arcane Intern (Unpaid)

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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