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12th Place - 15th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2009)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The genre is similar, a dramatic, plot-driven gameplay, several flashbacks putting the story together with only some puzzles, and lot of text. A LOT.
The problem is that it's very ambitious, and ultimately it falls short.
Plot driven IF works if the plot is very good, and the writing is very good, but here it's needlessly verbose, to the point of being boring.
The game has its moments, it's a pity that they are buried under screens and screens of text. (Spoiler - click to show) The garage is good, and the doll head was genuinely creepy, but the exposition angel at the end really killed the immersion.
Another problem are the "puzzles". I can understand having little or no puzzles, but the problem here is that the plot is ON top of the gameplay, and often i tried doing something while the dialogue went on in the background...distracting.
I'm sure that by pruning a lot of dialogue and repetitions it would be worth 4 stars.
The dialog is almost always hopelessly clunky, the game is dark and depressing in the manner of an overbearing "teen angst"-spawned melodrama, and your literal martyrdom is thrust in your face in a manner so brazen as to edge towards the absurd. Still, I did find myself on edge occasionally while waiting for the terrible to occur, and the game was technically competent and bug-free. A slightly lighter touch with the story and more natural language would have made this game something to remember. As it is, Condemned has more in common with the pained, quiet kid's creative writing project than any truly affecting work should.
I found it to be heavy-handed; I feel like games such as Map and Euydice deal with similar feelings of regret in a more nuanced way.
Also, the Christian theme seems underutilized; the cross is heavily referenced, and a bit of guilt and repentance, but much of the atmosphere seems like a new synthesis of thought that doesn't mesh well with preexisting Christian themes.
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