IFComp 2023: Assembly

Here’s a clever premise, not just at the level of plot but of gameplay: what if magical rituals took the form of Ikea instruction booklets?

Somewhat surprisingly, it doesn’t take this in the direction of instructions being arcane or difficult to follow. Each step in an assembly ritual can pretty much be copy and pasted from the game’s output into its input, and the steps for disassembly (also frequently necessary) are simply the opposite of the forward instructions. (It reminds me a little of the spells in King’s Quest 3 that way, except without the dire consequences for typos.) But the instructions don’t just produce supernatural effects (in fact they usually don’t have any supernatural effects at all, only a few special items do that), they produce furniture, which can have situational uses. This is a game about an ordinary person battling cultists, but it’s mostly about building furniture and breaking it down repeatedly, and it gets a surprising amount of mileage out of just that.

And it’s admirably short. This is a parsimonious game, that explores a single idea thoroughly and without waste, getting a few very nice puzzles in along the way, and then knows when it’s done. In the context of the Comp, that is a very good thing.

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