IFComp 2009: “The Duel that Spanned the Ages”

This is a game from the 2009 IFComp.

The Comp’s other “duel”. We are having some weird patterns this
year. Actual dueling is, unlike in the previous “duel” game,
conspicuously absent. It’s also an “Episode 1”, a subtitle which, more
than anything else, seems to guarantee that a sequel is not
forthcoming.

The opening textdump: good Lord is it long. It’s stylistically
about in line with what the title prepared me for, though; in fact,
it, and the title, remind me vaguely of Ben Bova’s Orion, which
I haven’t actually read in a decade. On that front I reckon it works,
but I think of long as generally bad, and it doesn’t help that it is
apparently unrelated to anything that follows. The first scene is
well-implemented, and from there things get slightly odd: why are all
the room names in the second and fourth scenes lowercase? That’s a bit
nonstandard, although it’s consistent enough that I’d entertain the
notion it’s intentional.

There are a couple of odd technical issue.Technical writing errors
are minor and infrequent, but there are a few. “STAND” doesn’t work,
although “STAND UP” does. The voice-recorder files are clunkily
handled. These are minor issues. For the most part, this is a game of
appropriate scope, with an intelligently crafted narrative voice, and
well-considered and thought-out puzzles. And yet, for all that, it
never really grabbed me as such and made me want to keep playing. Some
of that might have been the intro and cutscenes, which I imagine were
meant to heighten the mystery but mostly just annoyed me.

All in all, though, despite not exactly hitting my sweet spot, this
game does many things right and nothing serious wrong. This I can
respect.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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