IFComp 2008: Cry Wolf

Veterinarian meets werewolf. It’s a clever premise, but how is it as a game? Spoilers follow the break.

At first, surprisingly dull. To judge by the first scene, this is primarily a game about home decorating. Awakened in the middle of the night by a wounded animal at your door, you have to spend your time examining nine roomfuls of furnishings to find the equipment you need to deal with it. The descriptions do at least contain personal details about the protagonist, but he’s not a very interesting character.

Tha game proceeds to become one of those linear plot-driven games I was talking about before. I don’t want to mention other games by name, in case someone who’s still in the process of judging the comp games reads this, but: That one game that I called a “troll”? This is exactly the sort of game it was making fun of. I think I have a better handle now on what it is that bothers me about these games in general. It’s that they don’t let you act on your own realizations. You have to go through the motions of guiding the PC through the pre-determined sequence of events, including revelations of things you may have already figured out. This game is an extreme case of that: it’s patently obvious to the player that this is a werewolf story, but the PC has apparently never heard of werewolves. He can go to sleep in the presence of a sedated wolf with a splint on its forepaw, and wake up with a naked woman with the same splint on her hand, and not be able to think of any explanation. (“My god, what is that thing?”)

I was about ready to give this game up when it suddenly hit a scene I found rather compelling: performing a caesarian section on a dog. You have a number of items (scalpel, topical disinfectant, shaver, etc.) that have to be applied in the right order. And while the game doesn’t let you do it wrong, the fact that you have to actively engage yourself in each step of the process is enough to keep your attention on a rather disconcerting process. The game being what it is, it all ends even more disconcertingly, and I thought it built up to that very well.

So, at that point, I had hopes that the game was picking up. In the next scene, I was supposed to get Explanations from my presumed-werewolf friend, but I managed to use up the entire conversation menu without triggering whatever was supposed to happen next. And I gave up there.

Rating: 3

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