IF Comp 2012 – Changes

Book 6 of the 4th edition of Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885-90).This is a stylish game that starts off strong, but which I could not get through, even with the walkthrough open on the same screen. I see where the author was going with this and think it’s a great idea, but I couldn’t get far enough to see most of the story.

More after the break

The first part of the game is so well done that I really regret not being able to live long enough to work through the remainder, but after many attempts, the game ended in death by fox or whirlpool. I understand what the walkthrough wants me to do, but I can’t get there.

Before resorting to the walkthrough, I had some inkling of what might be going on. The premise had been established that the cocoons allow reanimation of dead bodies and transmigration of consciousness. Given that and the limited telepathy that the rabbit demonstrated, I had considered that I might need to switch bodies to advance in the game.

On the other hand, I had also drawn some incorrect conclusions about how to proceed. Looking at the hatch on the shuttle, there is a clue that perhaps the lemur could press the buttons. So, I went off for a while and tried to bribe the lemur with some tasty leaves, to talk to him, to cajole, threaten, and badger him into helping me — to no avail. It did occur to me that I might need to kill him and take over his body, but I wasn’t clear on how to direct that process. Of all the consciousnesses in play, why would mine enter his body rather than someone else’s? I also spent a while wondering what he had under his armpit… is there something of interest there, or is this a random description?

Similarly, I was off in the wrong direction with regard to the fox and the deer. When I learned that the fox had in the past developed a preference for deer after chowing down on a dead one, I thought that the best way to get rid of the fox would be to lead him to the deer. We ran around and around, and after a few passes through the deer herd, I gave up on that idea. Then, learning that the deer eat the leaves that I can gather, I thought about an even more convoluted plan of somehow poisoning the deer with the leaves, leading the fox there, etc.

I think I eventually was on the right track about leading the fox to the narrow ledge, where he could fall into the water and drown. Unfortunately, I always ended up as the one that was drowned.

A few clues in the game may have been misleading. At one point, the reply to a hint was that there was something useful in the canyon. Well, I looked and looked, and with a clue that general, I examined every bit of sand, grass and the wind itsef. Also, there was some mention that the otter had been doing something interesting, but was too far to see. I circled around the lake, and I’m still not sure if I’m missing something.

If I could make one recommendation for the author to consider in revising the game, it would be to lower the difficulty of making the first transition. Once the player understands how that is done, the rest of the game should flow naturally. The trick would be to find some way of doing it that doesn’t scream “tutorial”.

Story: 7

The story conveys two worlds – the framing story about the high tech colonization effort, and woodland world as seen by the bunny. The space story provides a useful shortcut to introduce knowledge about the planet’s ecology, and the anecdotes involving the protagonists’s wife flesh out his personality somewhat.

Voice: 7

For someone who has just been turned into a space rabbit, I don’t sense a lot of emotion. The character’s early attempts at rationalization may indicate that he’s in shock, and not able to fully accept the situation. If the voice changes substantially with each transition, my rating in this category would go up.

Play: 6

As presently implemented, the story plays great for exploration, but hits a wall when it comes to the central mechanic: moving from body to body.

Polish: 8

The text is well written and edited, and I assume extensive tested. There is a lot of descriptive text, implementation is generally deep, and the author has done a good job of covering less likely actions.

Technical: 7

The game does not break new ground technically, but it does a number of things well, such as dealing with pursuing/fleeing characters and updating environmental descriptions appropriately.

A more extensive hint system would really be appreciated.

Average: 7

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