IFComp 2014: Ugly Oafs, by Perry Creel

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition is on! Details at ifcomp.org. This is the fourth game I’m judging. Yeah, I’m not getting through the whole thing this year. Shit, if I’m lucky I’ll judge enough to have my votes counted.

Blurb: Push back the Wrath Pulse–or find the Fry Gun to destroy it for good!
A wordplay game with several ways to lose deliberately. Source code included.

OK. Apparently it’s a wordplay game. But there’s not a whole hell of a lot of context to figure out the nature of the wordplay: tons of phrases but absolutely no hinting as to what to _do_ with the damn phrases. I tried to do anagrams but came up short. Have I mentioned I’m not very good at these things? I feel like I’m back in the Mystery Hunt. I’ve figured out that the map is symmetric under rotation and that the numbers are from northwest to southeast in a pretty straightforward way. This is surprisingly unhelpful.

A little walkthrough-reading gives me the Big Reveal. And, well, now it feels like so much busywork. I dunno, I like my crosswords leavened with a bit more of the narrative, and I spent enough mental energy trying to figure out the conceit that I don’t have much energy left to take it to its conclusion. In honesty, the clues totally were there, but as I said, I’m not actually good at this sort of thing, and I felt like there may have been too much information and not enough focus, maybe.

There are a couple of bugs around the punctuation. That might be the fault of the screenreader-friendliness coding, but still, it’s the sort of thing I expect to be purged in beta.

This is an interesting idea. It might be fun for a certain type of reader, but it is Not My Thing. I concede this may be my fault and my problem.

Rating: 6

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

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