IFComp 2011: Vestiges, by Josephine Wynter

This is the seventeenth 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: In the absence of reality, perception must suffice… You awake in a grave, with no memory of who you are or what happened to you. Using the items around you, you must escape the entity pursuing you and uncover the astounding truth of your origin.

Hoo boy. This one is going to be a mess. I’d like to be as supportive as possible, so I’d urge the author to please try again some other time, with much, much more attention to technical details, and with copious betatesting.

I was willing to give the first room the benefit of the doubt, in spite of the inappropriate default response to “EXAMINE ME” and the lack of indication which direction the iron doors led (south, evidently). But then came a room with unexaminable pictograms and, dismayingly, the line “You can also see a wooden doors here.” And I then knew that I was going to have to just slog through and give this game a 1 or 2 depending how cranky I felt and how well it redeemed itself, because that sort of thing should really, really not be in a finished product, ever, and definitely not in the second room.

And, lo, it is as disappointing as initial indications suggest. Technically it’s very weak, with mobile scenery, undescribed objects, unimplemented verbs (the command to cut through steel with a sword, which the game doesn’t even recognize the word “sword” as a synonym for, is “UNLOCK”), and a gamestopping bug here:


> UNLOCK CHAPEL DOORS
bara

which I can’t make anything of. I went to the walkthrough but the penultimate command doesn’t work. Neither really did the fifth-to-last command, although I had already tried the astonishingly unintuitive (but implemented!) syntax “L NEXT TO TOMBSTONE”.

As to the actual text of the game: it’s mostly competent but unspectacular, but punctuated by textdumps. Needless to say, it’s not nearly good enough to rescue the game from its many, many flaws.

Rating: 1

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

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