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by Peregrine Wade profile

2016

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Low key, but ranks high, May 9, 2017
(Disclosure: I participated in EctoComp 2016.)

This one grabbed me from the start: the set-up, with the PC in a car trying to escape from an unknown horror, is sufficiently rare in IF to be memorable, and creates a nice claustrophobic sense of horror. The writing is largely very good, despite one or two slightly cliché moments. Once I found out what the threat was, my interest flagged a little, but that's because I'm not a fan of (Spoiler - click to show)werewolves, not because of any fault in the game.

If I had to describe this game in one word, it would be "polished". Processes that could easily have become a case of guess-the-verb, such as driving a car or buying something, have been nearly perfectly streamlined. The game does a very good job of seeming sprawling and open, creating the illusion of a vast world despite the short time-frame of creation. Finally, the ending is powerful and appropriate to the set-up.

The only real problem I had is that you can lock yourself out of the winning ending (Spoiler - click to show)literally, by not taking the hamburger before you get locked out of the car. This was particularly annoying to me as I figured out the winning move, only to realise that I'd left behind the item I needed. Now, you may say that this is an IF game, you should pick up everything that isn't nailed down. The thing is, if I have something in my car, I think of it as being in my possession. "You need to pick it up" doesn't register with me.

EDIT: The author has informed me that it is still possible to get a winning ending if this happens, so I stand corrected.

There are a couple of other minor annoyances: figuring out how to enter (Spoiler - click to show)the gas station is unintuitive (you have to use IN; ENTER or compass directions won't work); some stock commands are unimplemented (for example, OPEN DOOR while struggling to get back into your car will give you "You can't see any such thing"). Of course, such issues are the expected casualties of a speed-IF, and apart from these few technical problems, I really have no complaints about this game. Play it if you want a tense, unnerving horror game with a sense of a large world and a strong ending.

Well worthy of its high score in the competition.

Comments on this review

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Peregrine Wade, May 2, 2017 - Reply
Actually, there is an alternative solution to (Spoiler - click to show)getting the winning ending which doesn't need the hamburger, (Spoiler - click to show) although I'm not sure that it's well clued.
Christina Nordlander, May 4, 2017 - Reply
Thank you! This just makes me even more impressed with the amount of polish you put into this game. I've edited my review somewhat.
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