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Timeout in the Wasteland

by Feneric profile

Part of 2020 NarraScope Game Jam
2020

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A science experiment in the wasteland, September 23, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This one is an interesting game that shows a lot of promise, but has a lot of little details that can make for a frustrating experience. With a few tweaks, it could work pretty well. I'd love to see a longer game from this author with a long period of testing entered into IFComp or Spring Thing one year.

You play as a plant geneticist who has survived an apocalypse. You must keep your little garden of food safe, feed yourself and create hybrid plants. There are 4-5 days of gameplay with time tracked.

The programming here is impressive, from the time tracking to the puzzles involving three nouns at once. But a lot of ground level work is missing, the kind of thing that generally comes with experience or exhaustive beta testing.

Here are my scoring criteria:
+Polish. The game is technologically impressive, with complicated puzzles, active animals, a time system, etc.
-Interactivity. The game lacked exit descriptions in important areas, and some interactions were 'fiddly'. (For instance, to drink water, you must 'drink canteen'. DRINK WATER instead results in 'The Canteen is not open.', since the water is modeled as an object inside the closed canteen.'
+Descriptiveness. The writing is spare at times, but so is the setting. And the author put a lot of effort into backstory and thoughts in 'the wilderness'. I think the writing is good for a parser game, and will only improve with time.
-Emotional impact. The fiddliness of the interactions kept me at a distance from the game. Had the background actions been smoother, I think the feelings would be stronger.
-Would I play again? It was fun to see everything possible, but the difficulties made me loathe to return and tinker around.

The author's other game (The Gateway of the Ferrets) has the same kind of complicated game techniques but adds some cute ferrets that amplify my enjoyment of the game. It's worth checking out!

Edit: The interactivity and polish have increased since I wrote this, so I've revised my score accordingly!

- Zape, July 1, 2020


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