IFComp 2012: The Test is Now READY, by Jim Warrenfeltz

Twenty-three games. Five days. So much for judging them all, but I’ll get through as much of theEighteenth Annual Interactive Fiction Competition as I can. 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: A zombie apocalypse, with one dose of antidote, one bullet and two survivors.

A train hurtles towards your son – or five strangers.

You’re kidnapped and forced to save an innocent life. Is there another way?

The blurb pretty much says it all. There are a bunch of fairly minimalistic scenes from contrived ethical chestnuts, including that extremely offensive “ticking time-bomb” scenario. At the end of it the game tells you what decision you made on each one and what it says about your personality.

Given that the ethical dilemma in each scene is apparent, I don’t really need the game to come out and tell me “by not pulling the lever to divert the train, you showed a preference for saving family over saving several strangers.” Really, game? No shit? Because if you hadn’t told me that, I might have completely missed the point of that particular exercise.

On technical issues, I didn’t see anything wrong, but neither did this game really give me much to find particularly worthwhile. The implementation depth is OK in its very limited scope, but it’s not a very ambitious work in the first place.

I guess I found the cavalcade of hypotheticals-as-personality-test contrived, tedious, and in its contrivance, a little bit offensive. Debating these binary choices in person gives one a way to challenge the likelihood of the hypothetical, think outside the box in determining alternative solutions, etc. This game doesn’t offer the first and doesn’t have nearly robust enough implementation depth for the second.

Rating: 4

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

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