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About the StoryAn interactive tale of strange conspiracy.
Pull up your hood, lower your gaze and enter the city of Zendon. If you can gather enough information, you may just be able to change the course of history.
(Weird City Interloper is a shallow but broad conversation game.)
Nominee, Best NPCs - 2014 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
Perhaps "conversation-based" is an understatement: there is literally nothing but conversation here. No conventional IF narrator telling you what is there, and how it looks like, and what is happening: only the direct speech of the NPCs. No "examine", or "inventory", or "go north": all you can do is talk.
And yet there is wonderful scenery in the game, and eventful journeys through the strange and colorful city of Zendon, and exciting adventures. Playing it reminded me of Elizabethan drama: no stage sets in the theater, almost no stage directions in the text; and then somebody says something like "But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, / Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill" - and you get the picture.
Above all, the game has vivid and memorable NPCs. I think even Gun Mute, another work by Pacian with a magnificent NPC cast, in this respect pales before Weird City Interloper. Each one of the fantastical and amusing characters would be enough to make a whole game centered on them. You could write an entertaining game about Lissa Ratdaughter, our trusty streetwise guide - and I would definitely play such a game, because I found Lissa interesting. You could write a nice game about Zook Spiralhouse, an innkeeper (who also happens to be a gigantic snail), charming in her grandmotherly way. And here there are not one or two, but a dozen of them - funny, mysterious, grotesque, different, each with their own unique voice and world-view.
There are no difficult puzzles (I don't think anyone can get truly stuck in this game, even without hints from (Spoiler - click to show)the rat queen) - just exploring, going through different topics of conversation, discovering things about the city and yourself; "lawnmowering", if you wish to call it such. But I never thought "lawnmowering" could be so enjoyable.
For a game with no location descriptions to speak of, it was surprisingly atmospheric in its descriptions of the slums and the stenchworks, and spoke of a society more well thought-out than one might expect from such a short game. The hints of detail suggested a city like Miéville's New Crobuzon: highly stratified, with each social strata having elaborate rituals and norms; and highly industrialised, with the cogs of machinery merging with the eldritch.
All we know of the NPCs are their replies in conversation, and Pacian makes full use of this by giving each character a distinct voice and take on common topics. The game also comes with a very friendly hint system, in the form of a streetwise city guide. It took a bit of a leap of logic to figure out how to progress, I must admit, but the logic in the rest of the story is consistent.
Weird City Interloper was similar to Walker and Silhouette or Castle of the Red Prince in its unusual navigation, and the game lives up to its description as being shallow but broad, and makes for short (less than an hour) but colourful play.
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