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Winner, Best Individual Puzzle - 2000 XYZZY Awards
-- Duncan Stevens
Care For Another?
It's a successful if somewhat evil puzzle. I was confused when it was going on, then gradually had more and more of a sense of what I wanted to do; at the end, however, it all clicked together with a satisfying snap, leaving no loose ends.
As writing or story I think it is slightly less successful. Even excellent descriptions and dialogue begin to pall on the 129th reading, and much of the NPC conversation has a somewhat stiff and unconvincing quality. There is a good reason for this, gameplay-wise, but it lends strength to the impression, especially on repeated playings, that these are clockwork people carrying out their clockwork functions in a world where you alone are sentient.
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Rematch highlights the real strength of one-move games, in that they make it easy for the author to provide for absolutely everything the player could come up with (since the combinatorial factor--objects being combined in unexpected ways--is limited). In giving you multiple views and variations on the central event of the game (not revealed here, since the surprise of it is part of what gives Rematch its impact), the game enhances its mimetic qualities: you can try just about anything logical, and the parser will handle just about anything you type. The AMUSING section at the end is well populated, and in fact there are many things worth trying that don't, in fact, show up in that list.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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My favorite feature is the way the relationships among the three main characters (player character and two friends) become clear as you keep playing. There's a history behind the moment you find yourself in, and you can use your turn to explore that history as well as your physical environment. I end up being more interested in the way the solution (as well as certain unsuccessful attempts) affects the interpersonal dynamics of the characters than in the technical details of how it saves everyone's life.
I like it. I like Aisle too. (Aisle is another one-turn game, also very good, and so an obvious comparison. But if you haven't played it, then this paragraph won't do much for you.) There's something about about the idea of approaching one key moment from a hundred different angles that appeals to me. Rematch is different from Aisle in that you have a clear and difficult goal, and the fictional world and characters are consistent from run to run -- so it's maybe more reality-bound than Aisle, less whimsical, more a problem to solve than an identity to explore.
As for the puzzle, it's difficult, but certainly solvable with patience.
So when I finally got an interpreter and played the game, I was in the odd position of having known the solution for years but not knowing the game.
The game is much more than its solution.
The variety in the game comes from two sources: the players choice of actions, and a surprising variety of random "reshuffling" of the environment with every restart.
The environmental cues make the games complicated parser much easier to understand. The NPC's will say "so and so said ....", which tells you things you can say, and so on. You discover new characters as you try different directions and options. There is a lot to discover, if you don't focus on just playing the game. There is also a large "amusing" list at the end.
If you enjoyed Rematch...
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"A date by candlelight in a fine restaurant. Should be a perfect evening." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]
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