IFComp 2008: Snack Time

A bulldog wrote this one, or so it claims. Spoilers follow the break.

The “bulldog author” claim is of course just an acknowledgement of the bulldog authorial voice, much like how last year’s Lost Pig claimed to be written by its orcish protagonist. And, like Lost Pig, it uses that voice to give us a distinct worldview, with a sort of childlike simplicity in its syntax that’s very plausible for a bulldog’s inner monologue. I couldn’t help but think of Tom Robbins: “If wild animals could talk, would they talk like cartoons? …Or would beasts converse in the style of Hemingway…?”

This is the room where you sit a lot. Well, you sleep here sometimes too. But there is a different room that is just for sleeping, and it is to the north. There’s another room to the west. It’s the room with the food. That is a good room.

Even though this is the sitting room you can’t sit on everything. There are a lot of “no”s here, like the thing you can’t scratch, and the tall thing and the four-legged thing that isn’t alive but that stands still with the box of light on its back.

Fortunately, the game accepts words like “sofa” and “tv”, even though it never uses them in output.

The game is pretty consistent about the canine perspective. The one thing that didn’t ring true for me was that the dog refers to the human as “your pet”, which really doesn’t seem to me like how dogs regard their alpha male surrogates. But other than that, the viewpoint is consistent, and the first of the game’s puzzles, waking up the human, requires thinking like a dog. I thought at first that I’d have to do something clever there, but no, you just do things that a dog would naturally do to wake someone up.

After that, the puzzles become a bit less plausibly doggy. I can believe that someone has trained a dog to fetch him beer from the fridge. The idea tht a dog has figured out how to change channels on a TV remote by biting it is a bit of a stretch, although at least it has cute value, if you value cute. This isn’t the first IF work from a canine perspective, and certainly not the first adventure game where you play an animal of some sort, and they always have a bit of this problem. It’s a real challenge to come up with puzzles that are within an animal’s physical and mental capabilities, and if you’re going to drop one of those constraints, I suppose it’s better to drop the latter.

Rating: 6

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