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About the StoryWARNING - Contains some violent, disturbing, and sexual content
You find yourself at a busy intersection where an accident is about to happen. What do you do? Who do you save? Your choices define your moral viewpoint, but everything is not as it appears to be. The more choices you make, the more you find out about the people and their motivations for being at this intersection at this particular moment. Space-time portals, murders, even aliens, are somehow all involved.
68th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:A collection of ethical quandaries, December 12, 2018
by SpikeDuring IFComp 2018 Dilemma advertised itself as being parser-based and an hour and a half long, but both of those are misleading. First, the game is made with Unity, not a parser language like TADS or Inform. You do type in commands, but the game doesn't really parse them; instead, it appears to recognize particular keywords. These keywords are put in all caps in the text, so that you can't miss them. (The game occasionally recognizes other commands like LOOK, but I don't think there are very many such commands.)
Also, each playthrough is about 5-10 minutes. I suppose if you're persistent you can uncover all the endings in an hour and a half, and presumably that's what the author meant. The game does tell you how many endings there are, and it keeps track of how many different ones you've achieved. I think this is a good design choice; it certainly kept me playing several times to find different endings.
As far as what's going on in Dilemma, you're first faced with a trolley-type problem: An old man is crossing the street. A bus full of school children is headed toward the crosswalk, but the driver doesn't see the old man. What do you do?
Well, at first the three examples of actions suggested by the game seem like all you can do. But that's not the case. If you LOOK as your first option you're given a lot more possibilities of actions to try. In fact, you can completely ignore what's happening with the old man and the school bus if you want. But many (all?) of the actions eventually lead to some sort of situation where the consequences of your choice(s) are great yet it's unclear what the best (i.e., most moral) action is. Hence the game's name: Dilemma. Then, if you don't like what the consequences of your actions are, you are allowed to go back to the beginning of the game and choose different options. Because of this, after a while the game began to remind me of Aisle.
However, it seemed to me that many of the choices that I could make were unrelated. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show)getting on the city bus seemed to be unrelated to going into the food mart, which seemed to be unrelated to chasing the mysterious stranger. So I think each of the options are there primarily to give additional opportunities for the game to present moral dilemmas to the player - and not so much to increase the game's narrative possibilities.
Unlike games with heavy replay like Aisle, though, there are multiple steps required to restart, which slowed down gameplay for me.
You win Dilemma by (Spoiler - click to show)being satisfied with the consequences of your actions. The game doesn't attempt to say that any one ending is better than any other. This feels like the right way to win this kind of game.
One critique I have is that many of the consequences of your actions don't seem to be directly related to the choices you make. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)if you try to save the old man all the kids on the school bus end up dying, and a truck driver does as well. I don't see why that has to be the case, although I guess it fits the game's theme of presenting you with morally ambiguous situations. On the other hand, if a game presents you with a collection of ethical dilemmas, it seems to me the consequences of your actions ought to follow naturally from the choices that you make.
Dilemma had a little trouble keeping me engaged as a single player, but I can see it working well in the right kind of group (maybe even in a class on ethics), where the moral dilemmas in it can be used to generate interesting discussion.
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This is version 2 of this page, edited by Doug Orleans on 25 November 2018 at 6:01pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item