IFComp 2012: Lunar Base 1, by Michael Phipps

Twenty-eight games. Fifteen days. I can do this. We’re blitzing through the judging for the Eighteenth Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. As always, if you’re a judge, don’t read on unless you have already played and reviewed the game yourself, and if your averse to spoilers, you won’t want to read this even if you aren’t judging.

Blurb: Two astronauts set out to settle America’s first lunar base in the year 2080. You are one of them.

Something about the narrative voice twigged me as “off” immediately. It’s a bit flat, feels a bit as if it’s trying too hard in the intro. A few moderate typos jumped out at me early, but mostly I found myself going through the motions. At a few points, like the enormous text-dump about the protagonist’s memories, the text jumped radically in style and left me a bit bewildered.

But when all is said, this one is pretty short and fairly linear. There’s not much really to be said about it, as it’s rather bland. I went to investigate an obelisk but it had surprisingly no effect whatsoever on the game or on the ending. The author seems to have lots of enthusiasm for the subject, but not the technical ideas to wrap an interesting game around it, or the writing skills to really make his scenario or characters come alive. The entirety rises to a standard of competence, but this is an interesting enough topic (and there are interesting, vaguely sinister ideas of where it might go) that it seems like it’d have the potential to give rise to a more interesting work. Basically this game seems to be in many ways less than the sum of its parts: there are some interesting bits with regard to possible insanity and evidence of alien habitation, but they feel like incidental, secondary plots to what is ultimately a game of the not-all-that-interesting steps involved in getting a slightly defective ship home.

Rating: 5

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

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