IFComp 2014: Jacqueline, Jungle Queen!, by Steph Cherrywell

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition is on, at ifcomp.org. This is my sixth and probably last game this year.

Blurb: You are Jacqueline McBean, modern woman for the Thirties and intrepid international correspondent for the Fresno Bee. The good news is that you’re on your way to a plum assignment among the glitzy spires and glamorous nightclubs of beautiful Golanaland. The bad news is that the plane only makes it ninety-nine percent of the way to Gola City and that last one percent is a real doozy. Alone in the heart of the Golanese jungle and armed only with the powers granted by the ancient jungle shrines, can you learn the ways of the animals, wield torrential rains and searing heat, and become at last the mighty Jungle Queen?

Of course you can! You’re a modern woman for the Thirties!

There was a lot in here which actually worked out pretty well. It’s got a pretty well-constructed broad-farce style, with mostly pretty comprehensible puzzles and a handful or alternative solutions. It has a reasonable amount of gonzo style and I pretty much never felt at loose ends or confused. I also managed to not stumble across any bugs or mechanical errors. All in all, the basic design is promising.

However, I found a bit I was unhappy with. The blurb and opening actually led me to expect a certain pulpy style, and the content kind of didn’t deliver for the most part. It’s a bit hard to put my finger on just what didn’t gel for me, but too much of the time I didn’t really feel immersed in the time and place, and this totally deserved (and led me to believe it would get) a more highly defined sense of setting and character. The writing’s mostly mechanically descriptive rather than really milking this style.

The puzzles maybe were a mite on the easy side, but I can’t complain too much, other than about a guess-the-verb issue I encountered at the very end.

On a tangentially related note, I am pleasantly surprised to see how usable Quest has become. There was a bit of lag playing online, but the interface and parser are pretty good these days.

Rating: 7

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

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