Review – The Murder In The Fog

By Source, Fair use, Link

This appears to be one of the games developed in Qiaobook by a Chinese author and ported to English for this year’s IFcomp. I had difficulty following the writing, probably because of translation issues, but I have to give the author credit for spellchecking more effectively than many authors who use the latin alphabet day in and day out.

I can at least address one readability issue: the font. The game employs a greenish font on a blurred background image. I couldn’t find a screen setting that gave me sufficient contrast to read the text, and I am sure it must be even worse for anyone with visual impairment. While I don’t like altering the visual presentation the author had in mind, here’s how I would make this high-contrast for legibility:

Download the game from IFcomp, open the read_v2.css file in a text editor and change two things: the background and the text color. Then, launch the game from the local index.html file in a browser. For me, Firefox worked better than Chrome.

Original read_v2.css:

* {
 background-color: transparent; }

.dark .read-text, .dark .read-title h1, .dark .icon-list li {
 color: #909499; }

Modified read_v2.css:

* {
 background-color: white; }

.dark .read-text, .dark .read-title h1, .dark .icon-list li {
 color: black;

As for the game itself, the lead character is a highschool sophomore a chemistry attending class, when an experiment fogs up the classroom. The lights go out and he receives a text message on his phone’s QQ app (see wikipedia article for background). Then things begin to get creepy in several senses.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

The player is presented with two ways to respond to a cryptic text message. The main character indicates that he will reply if the send is A) A woman or B) will send a sexy video. I think that would translate to “Game Over” for most IFcomp players. Is the author sexist or is the protagonist a jerk? Not enough data, but I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt because it’s hard to convey subtleties through translation.

As the game goes on, if I understand this right, a picture from a movie, Seven, is sent within the app. The movie is a crime thriller and the number in the title refers to the seven deadly sins. I didn’t recall the movie, although it starred Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, so I guess it was mainstream enough.

The relevance to this game is that it focused on a serial murderer, and a short way into this game, people start to be knocked off. Unable to see due to the fog, the player has to rely on his cell phone to communicate with classmates and narrow the suspect list. Maybe there are other connections to the film, such as motivation related to one of the deadly sins, but I didn’t follow the text sufficiently to pull out that meaning.

Story: 3. A classroom whodunit.

Voice: 3. Cell phones can be creepy because you don’t know who is on the other end. Students isolated in fog, staring at glowing cell phones while people are murdered is a strong visual. If Hitchcock had cell phones, maybe he would have done something along these lines.

Play: 3. Text is displayed character by character, which throttles the pace of reading. There’s an either/or choice at the bottom of each page.

Polish: 4. Mainly translation issues, although I did take a point off for poor legibility of text on background.

Technical: 3. I did not recognize any technical errors.


Preliminary Score: 3.2

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