Forging onward with the next batch of IFComp entries, as I review my intial impressions of each game’s opening (introduction, “About” screens, and the first location), summarized by the Capture Score from 1 (intriguing; a definite play) to 4 (dreadful and forgettable). Just a reminder, no spoilers here, just early impressions.
Games covered here include “Nightfall”, “Trein”, and “Red Moon”.
“Nightfall”, by Eric Eve
This is the next game from Eve, another veteran IF author with previous notable works like “The Elysium Enigma” and “All Hope Abandon”. I’m already biased, knowing the quality of his work, but even if I could evaluate the opening of this game objectively I’m sure it would score well. The quality and polish of his writing is quickly recognized, and the theme is strong and engaging: I begin on an empty train platform, in the early evening after the last train has left, taking with it the last remaining people in the city — except for myself. Something important is about to happen at dawn, although I’m not sure what — but the HELP section indicates that there is an important time limit on the game. Intriguing.
It looks like Eve tackles the distance between player and player character using a couple of interesting commands such as REMEMBER to see memories associated with different locations, RECAP to see all triggered memories, and GO TO to traverse the local geography to reach a destination that should be already familiar to the player character. The hint system sounds a bit different with the THINK (and THINK HARDER) commands, which sound interesting. Also, included with the game is a PDF file with a map of the city locations, which is reasonable (and helpful) since the player character is technically already intimately familiar with the city.
Capture Score: 1. Has the potential for another solid piece by Eve.
“Trein”, by Leena Kowser Ganguli
This game jumps right into a lengthy introduction, which identifies me as a character named “Archer”, trusted subject to the King who has been given the task of investigating the disappearances that have occurred in recent years on the night of the Blood Moon’s rise, during the festival of the dead. It’s a good deal of information to digest, but it is presented very well, with solid writing and an engaging setup.
I start in a small, broken down town with a suspiciously empty feel, and a tavern beckoning to the East. The game has a nice feel to it; a bit of fantasy with a bit of mystery, although no additional info since there is no ABOUT, HINT, or HELP commands. It’s a shame, as I’d like to learn a bit more about the author and this piece, but it doesn’t detract from my interest in seeing more. The only minor issue is an inventory item labelled “a Dark Clothing.”
Capture Score: 1. Should be interesting to see this one through.
“Red Moon”, by Jonathan Hay
I’m not sure what to make of this one. It starts with a mysterious introduction, as I’m apparently trapped inside a wooden room with unspeakable horrors beyond. A number of facts are presented, although it’s difficult to know what to do with them or how to put them together: there is an unlocked door, which I would apparently be crazy to open; I have a sister with me, huddled and mumbling incoherently from insanity; my parents died in “the war”; a computer sits on a nearby desk, offering some suggestion of time period, but there is no plug.
There is little additional information, however — even the opening suggests I don’t know where I am or how long I’ve been there, and there is no ABOUT command. Perhaps a bit too much vagueness and confusion, and not enough of a background to hook me into wanting to know more. I sense there is a reason for the terseness, but I’m not sure how long I want to spend trying to figure it out.
The writing is fair enough; not quite as polished as other works, but no obvious typos. The TAKE ALL command lists everything, including the walls, floor, and ceiling, which is a bit odd.
Capture Score: 2. I might come back to this one, time permitting.
More to come…
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