IFComp 2008: When Machines Attack

Next up: a sci-fi grotesque by Mark Jones. Spoilers follow the break.

So you’ve got a new job at a prestigious aerospace company, but once you’re on site, things seem… not quite right. Little things. The way certain people walk. The lack of supervision and instruction for new employees. The way that the old-timers hint that there are things best not discussed openly. The grammar. The vocabulary. An object referred to as a “portrait” turns out to be a landscape when examined; “overalls” turn out to be a “silver lined suit with a hood, like that of an astronauts”. Seriously, I thought at first that the weird prose in this game was a deliberate stylistic technique, a way of heightening the David Lynch-like sense of glimpsed wrongness. But then I said to myself, “The name Mark Jones sounds familiar. What else has he done?”, and it turns out that his last game 1Also his first game, this being his second was last year’s Press [Escape] to Save, also notable for its odd phraseology. Some choice examples from this game:
“Of course, wearing lab suits are self-explanatory, as a man of your experience already knows.”
“Seems to refrigerator, radiator-like unit, shaped like a huge cubicle that extends not only in the x direction but also in the y towards the ceiling.”
I think my favorite off-kilterism is the mention of a “very accurately cut machine”, by which is meant a machine that you use to very accurately cut things. I don’t know if I’d even recommend changing this stuff; amateurish though it is, it lends the work a certain sense of personality. That’s pretty much how I feel about the content, too: it’s amateurish but disarmingly idiosyncratic.

I didn’t complete the game in my two hours, but at least that’s not because I was stuck. The game guides the player along through its linear story pretty clearly, even at one point telling you explicitly what commands you need to use to progress through a cafeteria scene. I honestly have no idea how close I was to the end, though — there’s no scoring mechanism, and it’s the sort of story that can be extended arbitrarily.

Rating: 4

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1. Also his first game, this being his second

1 Comment so far

  1. Merk on 29 Oct 2008

    You were very very far from the end. It gets rougher the farther you go, so I gather you weren’t far enough.

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