IFComp 2017: Unit 322 (Disambiguation)   10 comments

By Jonny Muir. Played to completion on iPhone.

Here are some facts about this game:

  • It advertises itself as “A mystery told entirely through the pages of an online encyclopedia.”
  • That’s not entirely truthful. There’s something else going on here.
  • You start on a mock-Wikipedia launch screen, as shown above. The links only go a couple deep, but the important thing to note is the pages are not always the same.
  • The writing is skillful and the majority has Wikipedia’s “even-handed neutral” tone which makes creepy events sound creepier. It’s akin to someone playing the “straight man” in comedy.
  • Subjects were administered psychedelic drugs (such as LSD) to place them in a receptive mental state. They would then be subjected to various combinations of sound and imagery containing subliminal messages intended to directly target and stimulate parts of the brains repsonsible for various motor functions. These might often be no more than repeated 30 second loops of music or imagery.

  • The themes of the game are desperation, unethical experimentation, and mind control.
  • None of the characters felt cardboard, exactly, but perhaps a little too much detail about motivation was elided. I’m not sure if there’s a way to remedy this but maintain the same format; it might just be one of those necessary flaws.
  • Why do people do the things that they do not want to do? How can you push a man to act against his own best interests? This has been a fundamental enquiry in our research, and has been the focus of many of our experiments. Fortunately, our circumstances afford us as many test subjects as we need.

  • The arc ends up being perhaps a little too familiar, but even if you see the ending coming (as I did) it’s still enjoyable to see the payoff.

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Posted October 4, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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10 responses to “IFComp 2017: Unit 322 (Disambiguation)

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  1. This synopsis intrigued me and I gave it a go. Glad I did; enjoyed the ride. Noticed two typos but otherwise felt the writing was strong. Took about 20-30 minutes to complete. I saw part of the twist coming but not the entirety of it.

    • There hasn’t been much analysis of “plot twists” given it seems to be something Not in Proper Literature, but I think this one’s worth a little more discussion. Complete spoilers so I put it in rot13:

      Gur fgbel frrzf gb or gb unir gjb gjvfgf: gur snpg gur ernqre vf cnegvpvcngvat va gur irel rkcrevzrag gurl ner ernqvat nobhg, naq gur snpg gung gur svany vafgehpgvbaf ner fvggvat evtug hc sebag.

      Gur svefg bar vf abg bayl fgrerbglcvpny sbe guvf fbeg bs cybg ohg nyfb vf gryrtencurq jvgu gur inevbhf pbqr frtzragf. V’q fnl vg jbhyq or sehfgengvat jvgubhg guvf ryrzrag, orpnhfr gur raqvat bgurejvfr orpbzrf n “lbh svaq bhg ng gur raq lbh jrer jbexvat sbe gur ivyynva nyy nybat” be “vg jnf nyjnlf n qernz” glcr raqvat – fhqqra naq abg nhtzragvat gur fgbel zhpu.

      Gur svefg gjvfg nyfb freirf gb qvfgenpg gur ernqre sebz gur frpbaq gjvfg, fbeg bs yvxr n zntvpvna “fyvccvat” va bar unaq gb nccrne gb erirny n gevpx jura gur bgure unaq hfrf gur qvfgenpgvba gb qb gur erny gevpx.

      Nyfb, lbh pbhyq fnl gur frpbaq gjvfg jnf n gjvfg va vzcyrzragngvba, nf bccbfrq gb fbzr shaqnzragny nfcrpg gung arrqrq gb or uvqqra guebhtu gur cybg fgehpgher gb nibvq vg srryvat purnc.

  2. Thanks for reviewing these. I’ve been inspired by your posts to do likewise, and have now met my quota of five reviews for them to be counted. I will continue!

    I don’t know how you decide which games to play, but if you don’t already have other plans I’d be interested to know what you make of Tuuli.

  3. Having played through 3:22, I’m still not completely sure what was going on. Is Juliet Bloom the same person as Alison Bloom? Who was the mother of Reichardt’s illegitimate son? And, most of all, what do all those codes mean? Has anyone made any sense of them, or are they intended to be opaque?

    Still, this was an enjoyably immersive and unnerving experience.

    • SPOILERS, of course. Also content warning for sexual assault (which is in the game).

      1. I’m pretty sure Juliet Bloom is a typo for Alison Bloom (the word “psychadelic” appeared a few times so the game isn’t typo-free).
      2. The mother of the illegitimate child (is the gender specified?) was Eleanor Jones, the recovering drug addict who was Tommy Gibson’s third victim. She was one of the Project Ilium test subjects that Reichardt boasts about raping. There are a few references to “Jones.”
      3. I don’t think the codes are supposed to be decipherable. They’re mind-controlly strings like the lyrics to “3:22.” Presenting them as codes is perhaps a kind of Schmuck Bait to get you to consume them. (I just read Snowblood’s review which points out that Reichardt’s research concerned video and audio loops rather than text strings, but eh.)

      • Thanks, Matt.

        Ah, the third victim, of course! Thanks for joining those dots for me.

        I think you’re right and we must write “Juliet” off as a mistake. A shame.

        Dropping undecipherable codes into a game is a mean, mean trick!

  4. Just played this – Enjoyed it. Fun

  5. Found an anachronism; there’s a reference to “crackheads” in a phone call from 1972, but crack wasn’t a thing that far back. It would’ve been “junkies.”

  6. Pingback: IFComp 2017: Summary and Mini-Reviews | Renga in Blue

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