IFComp 2011: Beet the Devil

Spoilers follow the break.

Aroused in the night by noises off, you find that demons from the pits of Hell itself have demolished your vegetable garden, set fire to the widow next door, and made off with your dog. The loss of a garden is a major tragedy, and I suppose the same could be said of the widow as well, but it’s the dog that needs to be rescued. Against them, you have divine favor and, more importantly, vegetables. Best of all, you have a Miracle Beet that combines the two. “God wants you to have this beet”, it announces reverently, or as close to reverently as such a silly game can get.

The game has a pleasingly quirky and bumpty voice, very colorful and rustic, at least in the beginning; either it tones this down as the story goes on, or I simply became acclimated to it and stopped noticing. The humor instead shifts to the demons you encounter and defeat in your underground trek to Satan’s lair: broad caricatures all, with a good supply of patter as they try to tempt you into sin. In fact, past a certain point, they’re specifically themed around the seven deadly sins, something I noticed about halfway through the run. The overall structure for most of the game is simple: you enter a room, a demon of some sort prevents you from continuing onward, and you defeat it by solving a puzzle, usually using a specific one of the few remaining intact vegetables from your garden — for example, using the tear-inducing properties of an onion to disable a floating eye, or punningly bribing a gold-loving demon with a carrot. The required actions become rather unlikely towards the end, but they’re well-clued, and besides, it’s easier to figure out what to use as you use the veggies up.

I could complain about this linear and restrictive approach — certainly I’ve complained in the past about games that do similar things. But the humor does a lot to make up for it. One bit I found particularly effective was the business of the turnip bush. The first time I saw it mentioned, it didn’t even register as unusual: it was just one plant among many mentioned in the description of your wrecked garden in the beginning. Only when I realized that there was a certain amount of salvageable produce to be found did I start examining individual plants and say “Wut”. Did the author not know how turnips grow? No, it’s explicitly called out as something strange and infernal when inspected. But the PC gives the impression that he didn’t notice anything odd until I called it to his attention, which made me feel a little better about not noticing it sooner myself. It allowed me to chuckle at him, and by extension at myself.

Also, there’s an adorable puppy, offspring of the abductee. It follows you everywhere and romps about and squirms excitedly if you pick it up. And even if its flavor of cute isn’t to your taste, it has one trump card to win you over: it’s genuinely useful. As I observed recently in another game, that’s the surest way to make a sidekick non-annoying.

4 Comments so far

  1. matt w on 8 Nov 2011

    Did you understand the solution to sloth? I didn’t understand it even after I had done it (using the hint but not the walkthrough).

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 8 Nov 2011

    You’re just trying to create conditions conducive to sleep there. That includes getting the puppy to be quiet for a while.

  3. matt w on 8 Nov 2011

    Oh. I’d have thought I was making the puppy louder, but I may be extrapolating from giving toys to cats.

  4. IFComp Reviews, Part 5 « Saucers of Mud on 12 Nov 2011

    […] to the sloth puzzle — with one hint — I didn’t understand why it had worked, and having had it explained to me I’m still not sure I understand […]

Leave a reply