IFComp 2007: Deadline Enchanter

A anonymous entry in the surreal mode. Spoilers follow the break.

I’ve been complaining a lot about games that you can’t solve without a walkthrough. Well, here’s a game that really takes that concept seriously. Nearly all of the game consists of transcribing sequences of commands presented to you in-game in a couple of books. Some of these commands, such as ducking into a tunnel not mentioned in the room description, are blatantly unguessable. Aside from examining objects, they’re pretty much the only actions you can perform, too.

It makes some sense in context: the game itself is supposed to be a message of sorts from an imprisoned elf or alien or robot or something in the future, and the walkthrough is instructions on how to set her free before she’s executed or something. Whether or not setting her free is actually a good idea is left open. At any rate, given that premise, it makes sense that the imperiled captive wouldn’t waste time on making anything more than absolutely minimal implementation. At one point a creature appears that presents you with a list of ways to interact with it; none of the verbs mentioned actually work, and the narrator apologizes for not having bothered to erase it entirely.

So it’s all very postmodern, and enigmatic in an ilovebees sort of way, but is it good? Well, it really isn’t much of a game. It’s kind of the opposite problem from the other walkthrough-intensive games I’ve been describing. Getting stuck because you don’t understand things isn’t a problem here, but that’s because you’re not expected to understand anything. Whichever way it goes, the player is deprived of the opportunity to participate in any meaningful way.

Rating: 3

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