IFComp 2014: Raik, by Harry Giles

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition is on! Get your judge on for yourself over at ifcomp.org. This is the third game I’m judging in the competition.

Blurb: A scots fantasia about anxiety. Battle kelpies, watch TV, avoid your emails and find the magical Staff of the Salmon.

OK. I’ve read But n Ben a Go-Go. I can do this. I think.

Near as I can tell, the same decision tree (in a Twine adventure, which is basically hypertext), has been laid on two completely different texts: a story about a highly anxious woman trying to get through her day, and a story of a Scots warrior questing to save his clan. More notably, the first story is in Scots and the second in standard English.

There are some interesting bits and a deeply confusing maze, and some places where the story jumps between the two parallel strands unasked. The overall plan isn’t clear to me though—it’s not wholly rocket science to map two different stories onto the same structure, and the parallelism is not always clear. It’d be nice to be able to say I learned a valuable lesson about anxiety, but the presentation is a bit murky at times. Switching between the storylines was a somewhat useful mechanism: when a wise choice wasn’t obvious in one story, the other story was often illminating.

It’s an intriguing experiment, although I’d hesitate to call it fully successful. It certainly set a very distinctive tone, and I imagine it’ll be polarizing, although probably for the wrong reasons (the Scots dialect, rather than the parallel gameplay).

Rating: 7


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

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