This is listed as a choice-based game, and it very literally is: the player is presented with a series of very short prompts and can answer yes or not to each. After a certain number of responses, the end of the game is reached.
There isn’t much to say about writing within the game proper — terse is an understatement, but the introduction and strategy guide are well-written, and the game is random in deciding whether players choices will be successful or not (so, I suppose it is up to the gods after all).
The introduction promises success if the player can get in the right frame of mind, which presumably is to follow the advice presented in both the blurb and above the main text window within the game “I must decide as if it all depends on me, trust as if it all depends on the gods”. The intro warns that it may at first be frustrating and require several plays to get the hang of it. I found that the advice was only somewhat helpful and I did not really fully grasp the criterion for good versus bad choices, but by playing repeatedly, I felt like I was able after a while to pick the right choices even if I wasn’t sure exactly why they were correct. Perhaps the gods were with me.
The main game screen looks old school – big chunky characters with limited screen width, reminiscent of mid-80’s computers outputting a composite signal to a television set. Reading the strategy guide and some additional material at the bottom of the guide, the reason for this is clear. Aesthetically, I enjoyed this presentation, but I would have preferred to have been able to scroll backwards (I realize that is at odds with the authenticity of the display, though, so no points off for that).
For me, the best part of the game was when it was over and I was presented with a “READY” prompt — the sort you used to get within the BASIC interpreter on early microcomputers. Reflexively, I typed “LIST” and was rewarded with the program iteslf, a nicely compact bit of BASIC code. The real kicker is that it can be modified and run. I inserted a line, added my own responses and ran it. I even tried “LOAD” and was instructed to press play on the tape machine! I was really hoping that this was a fake game on top of a deeper game that could be loaded and run, but no.
In rating IFComp games, I reward writing and the play experience. There is very little writing or content in the game itself, and I can’t characterize the repeated hitting of Y/N as much fun, so this game will score relatively low, but not at the very bottom: it deserves some bonus points for innovation. This work is more an art piece, but it resonated with me.