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Reviews by Tracy Poff

IF Competition 1995

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View this member's reviews by tag: ChickenComp IF Competition 1995 IF Competition 2000 IF Competition 2007 IF Competition 2014 IF Competition 2016 Shufflecomp 2014 SmoochieComp Speed-IF 7 Speed-IF 8 Spring Thing 2014 XYZZY Awards 1997 Xyzzy Awards 2001
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Undo, by Neil deMause
Interesting ideas, poorly executed, November 17, 2016
by Tracy Poff (Hamlin, West Virginia, United States)
Related reviews: IF Competition 1995
The game is very brief--I spent about ten minutes beating it, exploring everything as thoroughly as possible--but it has a few entertaining bits. For example, if you check your inventory, you're told that "You have everything that you need.", and in the Binary Room you can take 0 (or take nothing) and your inventory will change to "You have nothing." If you take other objects, e.g. take 1, then "You have nothing and a 1." You can drop nothing and then "You have a 1 and everything that you need." Inspired by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, if I'm not mistaken, quite appropriate for a piece of IF which is about a piece of IF.

The game's solution more or less makes sense, though you're more likely to stumble across it than to reason it out. I've written some invisiclues-style hints for the game, if you're stuck.

Undo has a few neat ideas and an interesting premise, but it doesn't really do anything with them, and feels more like Speed-IF than a real game. It can safely remain a relic of the past.

All Quiet on the Library Front, by Michael S. Phillips

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Unmemorable, April 12, 2014
by Tracy Poff (Hamlin, West Virginia, United States)
Related reviews: IF Competition 1995
All Quiet on the Library Front by Michael S. Phillips is a 1995 interactive fiction game, entered in the first annual interactive fiction competition. The premise is that the PC is a student enrolled in CS 441 - Interactive Fiction who has been slacking off for the entire term. To save his grade, the PC must navigate the university library to acquire a biography of Graham Nelson, to use as a source for a term paper.

Phillips's first (and, to date, only) contribution to interactive fiction, Library has the hallmarks of a first game: it is set in a fictionalized version of the author's workplace; it contains many references to the IF community; it has a rather thin premise. That said, it's competently implemented and reasonably well written.

Library's main sin is that it's too simple. Its puzzles are very straightforward, its NPCs don't seem to do anything but serve their very limited purposes, and there's little else to do but what's required. I only finished with 26/30 points, and I have no idea what the other points could be for, but I don't have any particular urge to get the rest.

Most of Library's scenery is implemented, though some actions, like x me, give default responses. On the other hand, you can (Spoiler - click to show)kiss alan for a response that's both humorous and useful as a hint--well done.

Overall, Library is just mediocre, and there are too many better works of interactive fiction for me to recommend it. If I were rating it for the ifcomp, I'd give it about a 4/10.

Play time: 30 minutes to win, plus about 10 more of exploration.

This review is based on Release 2.


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