IFComp 2012: The Island

And now we have this year’s sole work in TADS. Spoilers follow the break.

Honestly, this game feels like a first draft. You’ve got the bones of a short work in the vein of Myst and not much else. It starts with the PC alone at a standing stone on an island with nary a word of introduction. You make your way through a series of obstacles. Most of the obstacles are mechanical, but one of the first consists of stabbing a madman bound to a post, with about as much text or consideration devoted to the act as in this sentence. The ending wraps things around in a Twilight Zone-ish twist: your doom is sealed, your life tied up in a temporal knot. You are the madman, as well as a corpse found underneath a temple nearby. I guess this explains the general lack of context, but only after the fact. The twist actually reminds me a bit of certain aspects of Trinity when I think about it, but Trinity gave me more of a reason to care.

I personally had some problems with the ending. See, this game is almost entirely linear — solve a puzzle, proceed to the next puzzle — but the final action requires an object from a much earlier section. (In fact, you take it from that corpse under the temple, which means it’s time-looped.) Speculation on my part, but I think I probably would have thought of going back there if the structure of the rest of the game hadn’t convinced me that going backwards was never necessary. As it was, I had to consult the “walkthrough”, which is actually a command that embeds hints in the room descriptions. That’s an interesting little variant on the old-fashioned per-room hints resulting from the HELP command, as in the Scott Adams games. I’d like to see that aspect explored further.

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