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Gigantomania

by Michelle Tirto and Mike Ciul

Historical
2010

(based on 20 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

Living under the Stalin era, in four parts.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
IFID: 74B96A4B-FD69-4BF5-9237-BDE34232D1E4
TUID: ag55g7h8p1gwc7ol

Awards

15th Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(0)
4 star:
(6)
3 star:
(5)
2 star:
(9)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


It would have been better had the misery been *interesting* misery, April 14, 2013
This is a piece about "living under the Stalin era, in four parts." I'm going to be a touch spoilery here, but just a touch. After all, I played this several times, but never lasted more than thirty moves, so I can't possibly be spoiling your immersive experience that much.

(Spoiler - click to show)I died of starvation once, but then I started plowing potatoes and grain like a mad man so that I'd be ready when they came to collect my share for Mother Russia. No matter how industrious I was, though, I was always pinned to the ground, called an enemy of the collective, an enemy of the people, an enemy of Russia, and killed. I'm not sure if it was a bug or what, because I always had more grain and potatoes than the game said I needed, even after feeding my dying wife whom I couldn't bring myself to euthanize... because somehow, someway, I knew we would survive.

Yes, life in Stalinist Russia is horrible, but you get a sense of this about ten or fifteen moves into the piece and the rest of the game is not terribly interesting after that. I mean, I admire the premise, and the ambition of it, but I think it could have been done in a more engaging way. Bit more of a plot. Bit more promise that the misery to come would at least be interesting misery. More than four beta testers next time, Michelle.

This wasn't bad, per se, it just wasn't good. If you're going to take us back in time and show us how miserable a certain period was, you have to make it engaging enough that people will actually want to stay in the Hell you've (re)created for them.

And I didn't get far enough into this one to figure out where the title came from, which made me sort of sad. But they kept killing me!

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Kentucky Fried Anti-Communist Tract...until the end, November 19, 2011
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
I've suffered through a few Ayn Rand books. This game's better than they are, and not just because it's a lot shorter. It makes Stalin a more fun person than the people he repressed, which is rather clever, but unfortunately it stacks the deck.

Gigantomania's broken into four parts. Three require repetition and fawning to the local bureaucrat, and the fourth pretty much ignores what you try to say. It's the best one. There's always a trick to books showing people's lives are tedious without bringing the reader in, and in the case of a game, having to repeat actions to get to the next bit is just crushing.

That's the first half of the game. But then it turns toward being able to sneak around as you get more power--the (Spoiler - click to show)interrogation scene offering some wonderful, revealing ways to lose. But unfortunately anyone who has read why Communism failed will probably know this. And anyone who hasn't may wonder if all this repetition's necessary.

But the final scene is quite simply very clever. It's a chess game, and it's worth playing for that alone. I'd always interpeted "Communist style" chess as something different--the art of only allowing small advantages nobody enjoyed, more like a typical Karpov-style win where you mess up your opponents' pawns and win a tedious eighty-move rook and pawn endgame.

Here the author made the right decision. The interpretation (Spoiler - click to show)of killing all your allies to bring the enemy king near yours for the final evil laugh is wonderful and expedient. I didn't see it right away. It's the best anachronism I've seen in IF (Stalin died in '53, but the game occurred 40 years later.)

If the game could have a running side-story as clever as the last bit for each of its four parts, it would feel a lot less like Kentucky Fried Anti-Communist Tract and more like something special. I'd replay it for sure.

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Lacks smoothness; makes up for it with inventiveness, October 27, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Gigantomania is a fascinating piece written by an inexperienced but inventive IF designer. The 5.24 average rating it got in the IF Competition is completely undeserved: this game is worth playing and also worth thinking about. I cannot understand why anyone would give it a 4 or lower, which is apparently what almost 30% of the judges have done.

Gigantomania was entered in the same competition as The People's Glorious Revolutionary Text Adventure Game, with which it shares the theme of communism. Apart from that, the two games are polar opposites. Glorious is a highly polished light-hearted puzzle game that does not take its theme seriously and brings us nothing in the way of innovative design; Gigantomania lacks polish and smoothness, but it takes its theme very seriously indeed and experiments with the medium in quite unexpected ways. If the former is a slick Hollywood production, the latter is an experimental art house movie that sometimes works and sometimes does not.

This characterisation should give you a good idea of whether you want to play the game or not, which is the only thing I want to do in this review. Everything else I have to say about the game would be so full of spoilers that the IFDB is not the place to post it.

See All 5 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

Gigantomania appears in the following Recommended Lists:

The People's Revolutionary Game List by verityvirtue
Games set in dystopias inspired by the Soviet Union. Often involves bureaucracy, wrongful imprisonment and revolution. Suggestions welcome.

Polls

The following polls include votes for Gigantomania:

Dystopia by dacharya64
I love dystopian fiction, and after playing Square Circle, I decided I had to see if there were other dystopian tales in the IF-verse.

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by Emily Boegheim on 15 January 2011 at 1:22am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item