IFComp 2011: Escape From Santaland, by Jason Ermer

This is the thirteenth game I am reviewing for the 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition; if you’re a judge, don’t read on unless you have already played and reviewed the game yourself.

Blurb: Ugh. Christmastime at the mall. The last place you want to be, during the worst time of year to be there.

This game was a pretty solid puzzler with mostly satisfying structure. The prose was effective for its limited purpose if not inspired, and it was honestly reasonably enjoyable. At first I expected a maze-like structure and was relieved to find that was not the case. The puzzles were at about the right difficulty level that I had little trouble (although the use for the candle was something I ended up hitting the hints for). The actual metapuzzle that the individual puzzle set me up for was enjoyable to me not least of all because it was kinda like the central schtick in my own The Twelve Heads of St. John the Baptist. So there was a lot here that mostly worked for me. This was a trifle, but an unambiguously successful trifle, and at this point in the Comp, I’m ready to see and praise an unqualified if modest success.

Rating: 7

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

2 Responses to IFComp 2011: Escape From Santaland, by Jason Ermer

  1. Greg Sanders says:

    Huzzah! Is this a particularly meager year or do most entries typically not surpass the modest success bar?

    • Jake says:

      Well, it varies a lot, and it looks like the dynamics of the Comp are changing a bit. Historically there’s always been a very deep slush pile at the bottom; that part’s actually getting better. Really polished professional works tend to be few but there are always a few each Comp — usually between 3 and 6, say.

      I may be getting crankier, too (looking at last year’s reviews to see what I’d praise as an unqualified success, I’m honestly surprised to find I gave Under, in Erebus an 8). And it’s possible that I’ve gotten an uneven distribution in my random draw; maybe all the good stuff is near the end (which I may not reach: there are 38 games this year, and I’m barely a third of the way through).

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