IFComp 2008: Freedom

Spoilers follow the break.

This is a five-minute game. The author’s description of it is “An ordinary day in the life of an ordinary person”, which immediately made me suspicious, remembering how Shade was described as “a one-room game set in your apartment”. But no, the description is completely honest here. You go through the items on a short to-do list, then you find yourself in the presence of an NPC and try talking to her about various things, but she always gives the same response, so you try random commands until you hit on the one that ends the game. The descriptions are all terse, but I wouldn’t call it minimalist — it was clear that there was more implemented than was mentioned in those descriptions, although I didn’t spend much time with such things, choosing instead to stick to my chores. Still, the game doesn’t let you stray far off the path. I mean that literally: rooms have exits listed which you’re not allowed to go in, which is kind of ironic given the title.

After finishing it, I looked at the in-game help, which told me to use the “about” command, which yielded an explanation that the game is “intended to create the experience of suffering from social anxiety disorder”, and that “It’s a sort of ‘worst case scenario’ in that everything a socially anxious person fears comes true; everyone yells at you, everyone hates you, no one cares if you’re run down in the middle of the street.” And, like, whoa. I missed that completely. I mean, okay, the checkout people at the supermarket were surly, but no one yelled at me, probably because I didn’t try talking to anyone until the very end. Perhaps the social anxiety disorder world-view, like the autistic world-view, is too close to the normal IF world-view to really seem abnormal here. As I recently commented in another review, characters in adventure games are generally obstacles. And even when they’re not obstacles, they’re certainly not sources of emotional support.

Rating: 4

1 Comment so far

  1. Greg on 25 Oct 2008

    If you get in the express lane in the market, then people yell at you. I didn’t really notice anything different from the standard IF world-view either. The yelling in the express lane seemed like standard comedy-IF “wacky” too.

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