IFComp 2011: The Myothian Falcon

The Myothian Falcon is this year’s sole entry for the Quest system. We haven’t seen Quest in the comp since 2007! Spoilers follow the break.

Another private eye story with novel aspects — a trend this year? This time the novelty is that it takes place on a colony on another planet, some thousand-odd years in the future. Not a lot seems to have changed in that time, really. You spend your time sneaking up fire escapes and getting addresses from discarded matchbooks and the like. There are green-skinned aliens, but they more or less just occupy the niche of racial minority.

Let me quote a bit from the beginning that really sets the tone for how this game plays. (Vic is the protagonist; this game takes the unusual route of narrating in the third person.)

…There were also two chairs for clients to sit on, and at the moment an attractive woman, hopefully a new client, was sat on the left one, waiting for Vic to ask her what her business was.

> talk to woman

– – – “Hello,” Vic said. Perhaps he should ask her about her business, he thought.

Here we see the game telling me exactly what command to enter, and when I fail to obey to the letter, reiterating its instructions. And so it goes. You get opportunities to wander around and look at the scenery, but when it comes to solving the case, the player is pretty much just along for the ride, kind of like in certain graphic adventures I could name.

Well, if the emphasis isn’t on interactivity, it’s on world-building. The descriptions of the city are full of offhand references to its made-up history. They’re also full of typos, some of the sort that would pass a spellcheck (for example, “despite her small statue”). I notice that the last Quest game entered in the Comp also had this problem, even though it was by a different author. Is there something about Quest that encourages spelling mistakes?

This is just one aspect of a general lack of attentiveness here. There are some serious bugs — not a lot of them, but the couple I noticed are deadly. At one point I became trapped in Vic’s office because the game wanted me to ask a question of someone who wasn’t there any more. And there’s a repeated issue with room transitions. You know how sometimes a game will describe the action of entering a room before it prints the room description? This game gets it backwards. You’ll read a detailed description of the room and its contents, and only then be told how Vic rode the elevator up and slowly opened the door. Did this escape the notice of the testers, or did the author not know how to fix it?

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