ParserComp 2022: Anita’s Goodbye

Another time-travel game, fairly small and kind of underdeveloped — it would be more satisfying with more interactive detail, and some of the puzzles just outright tell you what to do instead of presenting you with the information you’d need to figure it out. A time travel device moves you through a three-day span, and also lets you send objects between the days, but it’s all a bit unconvincing: although the three periods share a layout, it’s clear that they’re essentially parallel copies of each other, not the same place at three times. You cannot, for example, leave an object in the past and see it show up in the future. Past and future have nothing to do with each other, except in certain hand-authored special cases.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that this is a fundamentally bad game — just that it could be a lot better with some more work put into it. Satisfying time travel mechanics are fairly hard to do, and even the sleight of hand necessary to cover up their absence is kind of tricky.

The premise is that Anita (whoever that is) has died, and you’re trying to get some closure by visiting her one last time in an alternate timeline where she didn’t. This leads to an ironic ending where the Anita who survived doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. It’s an ending that could have been melancholy, but instead the author basically went for cheap shock, which would probably feel insulting in a game where the premise is better-integrated into the gameplay.

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