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Reviews by Felix Larsson

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Works of Fiction, by FibreTigre

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Special FX from a Parallel IF Universe, July 3, 2010
by Felix Larsson (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Related reviews: truce, [8]
To those of us who aren't fluent enough in French, German, Italian, or even Spanish to tackle a piece of IF in those languages (every other command turns into a guess-the-verb-issue, unless you know a language well enough)—to us the French, German, Italian, Spanish, etc. IF communities are in effect parallel universes.

There may be all kinds of interesting things going on there that we know nothing about, and only all too seldom do portals open up into those other worlds, as with Montfort’s translation of Peláez’s Olvido Mortal or, now, JB's first (I think) game adressed to an English speaking audience: Works of Fiction.

JB is, judging from the information that does trickle between worlds, one of the fixed stars of the French IF universe (he seems to be best known, perhaps, for Filaments and Ekphrasis). Also, it seems that he has a soft spot for Glulx effects—at least Ekphrasis is said to make extensive (and essential) use of images and sounds.

Works of Fiction certainly relies heavily on Glulx: there is a slideshow, there is music, and there are split windows. Actually, the game is a full scale implementation of the idea found in Zarf’s Glulx-demo Two Columns. The story unfolds largely in several parallel worlds at once, with the game’s window split up to show all the worlds separately and simultaneously.

You play Gerard Lescroc, literary agent of an author about to receive the Philip K. Dick Memorial Prize at an SF-convention (you've bribed the jury to make sure of that). However, due to an overdose of extra strong black French coffe, laced with absinth (or whatever—apparently the recipe is a professional secret known only to the guild of SF-writers), you fancy yourself Paul Atreides, Messiah of the Fremen of Dune, Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi, and Kevin Flynn of Tron fame, all at the same time.

The player, then, has to guide Lescroc around in his native world, to achieve the goals of some one of his alter egos in their parallel worlds. This includes entering several commands telling Lescroc to do things in and to his world that he himself is prevented from doing and that can only be carried out in his world via corresponding actions of his famous alter egos in theirs. (The previous sentence may actually make sense, once you’ve tried the game.)

Unsurprisingly, this gets Lescroc into trouble. Apparently, there are limits to how weird you may behave even at an SF-convention (though the security guard at the convention really goes to some extremes to constrain poor Lescroc in the ordinary, ‘mundane’ world).

Before his troubles are anything but over, Lescroc make a bad joke about David Lynch, whereupon Orson Welles makes a cameo appearance, and after that things get really strange and messy, with Lescroc jumping back and forth between worlds in a way not unlike the protagonist of Dual Transform and with another dozen or so of pop culture references thrown in for good measure.

In the latter part of the game, the player may well feel quite at a loss as to what he’s supposed to do (as does Lescroc, to be sure). Actually, the first part, too, is somewhat underclued and underimplemented. Navigation between rooms often uses IN and OUT instead of compass directions (which frustrated me a bit before I found that out). And, yes, you can see plainly at times that English isn’t JB’s native tongue.

And then there’s the problem with making the story file work with the interpreter you run on your operating system. The author says, at the game’s web page, that Linux and Mac users may meet with varying success. Well, on the Mac the game wouldn’t even open with Zoom under OS X.4. Unexpectedly, the best result (though not perfectly successful) was to be had with Spatterlight under OS X.3.9! I haven’t tried the Windows version, but it seems that it is the preferred one.

Yet, in spite of these nuisances, I’d still say the game is most definitely worth a play.


The Endling Archive, by Kazuki Mishima

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Ode to Things Lost, May 14, 2010
by Felix Larsson (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Related reviews: literary, [8]
Technically this is a hypertext hack of the Z-machine rather than interactive fiction in a strict sense. The work simulates a database—“The Endling Archive”—that you (in the role of fictional reader) work your way through. However, such a description does no justice to the poetical nature (and value) of this short work.

The contents of the Archive is a melancholy reminder of things lost to neglect, to natural disasters, to violence and to hunger for profit. What we lost may not have been Paradise, yet it might have been worth preserving and may still be worth remembering.

(Spoiler - click to show)According to Norse mythology, Líf and Lífţrasir will be the only survivors of the Ragnarök catastrophe at the End of the World. Their names mean ‘Life’ and ‘Life Champion’.

Snack Time!, by Hardy the Bulldog and Renee Choba

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
A charming dog’s eye view on having a snack, April 23, 2010
by Felix Larsson (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Related reviews: truce, [8]
A truly delightful little game!

You are a dog and you’re hungry. It’s not dinner time in many hours, so you need a snack. Unfortunately, you’re not very good at making sandwiches, so you must get your human pet to make one for you.

The puzzles are quite easy, but it’s not the challenges that make this game but the consistent dog’s eye view of and on everything. Dog is the measure of all things in this game: canine interests permeates every single description of the game world. What makes the game so charming is the way Choba (the author) exploits the fact that Hardy (the dog-PC) has a set of concepts that doesn’t quite match the human player’s. For that purpose, a dozen words are worth a thousand perfect 3D-renderings.

(By the way, the same thing was done—to the same charming effect—by Admiral Jota in Lost Pig … and to a totally different but equally great effect in Shiovitz’s Bad Machine and even in Granade’s IF version of Pong!)

More actions are implemented. I missed most of them first time playing the game. So, if you manage your snack too quickly, chances are that you can have some replay value for dessert.


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