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About the StoryYou are starting your IT internship. The details you got from the university are scarce: just the address and the date (today).
49th Place (tie) - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The game itself is small and simple, a one-room game. The main feature here is that you have an app on your cell-phone that lets you connect to items by their ID and manipulate them through reading and writing. There are multiple endings, one normal and one which lets you be a hero.
There are a few niceties missing here and there (you’re told that everyone is working, looking at their screens, but can’t X SCREEN) but given that I was a tester I can’t really complain, can I?
If you like this game, you should try Michael Roberts’ immense game Return to Ditch Day which includes a lot of testing ports and running cable to access devices. Other games for gadget/tech people/fans of oldschool interfaces include Rover’s Day Out and Final Exam.
+Polish. The cool file system makes up for the implementation.
-Descriptiveness. The game is pretty sparsely written, and most objects described are generic.
+Interactivity. Great system!
+Emotional impact. Mostly wonder for the phone access.
-Would I play again? Doesn't have a ton of replay value, but that's okay.
So this is a proper hacking game, doing in pure parser form what yer Uplinks and Hacknets have done with hybrid GUI interfaces. After reading the included e-zine feelie – I just noticed feelies have been rather thin on the ground this year, so it was nice to see a well-made one – I was primed for an intense gray-hat type of experience, but actually the plot and set-up are rather low key: you really are just a student starting a do-nothing internship at a tech company. It’s just that you happen to have a smartphone app that gives you all the power of the Internet gods, with the ability to remote-access any computer or device and read, write, or active it with no concern for security protocols.
The hacking is implemented really solidly, using a UNIX-like set of commands, and again contrary to my expectations, rather than the whole thing playing out at a terminal you actually play an embodied character and type commands in typical adventure-game fashion – you just preface your commands with a prefix to direct them to the hacking app. Being able to merge the two levels of play seamlessly is a clever touch that heads off the challenges most hacking games have in depicting anything happening in meatspace.
All this to say that the foundations here are solid and even a bit exciting. The story and puzzle(s) are pretty underdeveloped, though – there’s no real detail about who you are, why you got this internship, or how you managed to wrangle the killer app. Played straight, there’s only one character and one challenge – you meet the secretary at the front desk and print a sign out for her. If you go poking around where you shouldn’t, there’s a little more flavor and a bonus objective (Spoiler - click to show)(the company’s CEO is blackmailing the secretary with nude photos, which you can delete), which feels good to find and accomplish but is also likewise quite slight.
There are alternate endings, the writing is clean and typo-free, and everything works the way it’s supposed to, so it’s all solidly built. But I can’t help feeling like the work it took to build this hacking system was wildly disproportionate to the work it took to build out the scenario. I find it exhausting to play games that are too long for the amount of content they actually have; BYOD has the opposite problem. Always good to leave them wanting more, I suppose, but still: I want more!
Oh, and “Device” and “Drama” are my two best guesses as to the title – the latter because the story isn’t going to find you, you need to manufacture the interesting bit yourself.
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