IFComp 2015: Midnight. Swordfight.   1 comment

By Chandler Groover. Played to completion.


I can’t really put it more succinctly than the blurb:

A fool receives a challenge from a countess.

More specifically, you start at a scene at midnight where you are about to enter a rapier fight.

How did you ever get into this predicament? A rumor, a glove thrown down onto a dance floor? Now you’re standing in the moonlight and your knees are knocking together, although you hope that no one notices. You’re still dressed for a masquerade and nothing feels quite real. Perhaps it isn’t real.

You have a restricted verb set that you can- read off a “playscript”; this verb set can change as the game goes on. To start, you use inventory, attack, kiss, and examine.

The countess kills you, but the game loops back to the previous move so you can try again. And again. And again, and again, and again, and then a new verb is unlocked (“wake up”) and that’s when things get really interesting.

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“Wake up” seems to take you back about 15 minutes in past, to a ballroom in the frozen moment when the countess first challenges you. At this point (during the frozen moment) you can make your way about the ballroom (either physically or temporally), trying to work out what’s going on and manipulate the past to change your fate in the future.

The writing is really solid and clever and I especially liked the sequence that leads to getting a vorpal blade.

If there’s some sort of Theme or Message or even Anti-Theme, I am not 100% sure what it is. There’s one character (Dmitri) who you can talk to in the Aftermath, and maybe it all has to do with this line:

The problem is I don’t wake up. I go to sleep, and then I go to sleep, and then I go to sleep. Perhaps I’m going in a circle, returning to the same moment over and over. But life seems to flow onward just as usual. I say hello to people on the street, meet them for dinner, come to parties like this one. The years roll on. But then I go to sleep and don’t wake up.

Or maybe not. Midnight. Swordfight. keeps up a wry face.

ADDENDUM: What’s most interesting about this structurally is that while the surface is a one-move find-the-endings game like Aisle, the verb list is heavily restricted and the player is allowed to go behind the scenes and tweak the setting. It’s nearly in the direction of player authorship, letting them change the story to their liking.

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Posted November 15, 2015 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2015: Midnight. Swordfight.

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  1. Pingback: IFComp 2015 Summary | Renga in Blue

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