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Nominee - Sarah, Best Individual PC - 1999 XYZZY Awards
-- Duncan Stevens
There are two main non-traditional techniques Montfort, an alumnus of MIT's Media Lab, uses to enhance his game in this literary fashion. (1) Changing the input prompt and disallowing abbreviations. (2) Including many extras locations and much more information than is needed to solve the puzzles and follow the game's plot. [...] The thing these two techniques have in common is that they aren't unconscious mistakes, they are deliberate choices made by the author for the sake of a certain IF experience. Montfort is to be highly commended for what appears to be a first-time work where I'm reduced to debating his choices, not identifying his obviously unintended errors.
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The game's world is full of locations freighted with symbolic significance--a church, a government complex, an oil field, an armory, a university--but, again, the game doesn't take it upon itself to connect the dots. In that respect, Winchester's Nightmare is almost akin to a painting that incorporates two scenes side by side: there's much to be observed in the contrasts, and hypothesizing about the significance for the central character of each aspect of the paintings. Cut-scenes of sorts, involving characters who appear, say something cryptic to you, and disappear again, heighten the disjointed feel, but the whole thing, given some thought, rewards analysis.
As interactive fiction, however, Winchester's Nightmare isn't quite as successful.
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The story and puzzles are hidden away in this vast expanze, with only 4 or 5 things to do in the game.
You are sarah winschester, representing gun manufacturers. You confront and stop the horror of gun violence. I didn't finish the last puzzle because I got frustrated.
The game is all in third person, and abbreviations are disabled.
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