Tag: if comp 2016

IF Comp 2016: Sigil Reader (Field)

When I woke, it was high noon, and the air was dead.

Sigil Reader (Field) is a fantasy exploration parser game made in Quixe. The PC is a woman called Priyanka Ramasamy who deals with sigils of protection, speed, silence, and more; she works in an institution whose role is to capture and log specimens and monsters. What exactly this involves is hidden at first.

Thrown into the events of the game, Priyanka has tattered memories of the catastrophe that has occurred, and the Station is deserted. It quickly becomes clear that while the Station is not working as it should, neither is Priyanka’s mind.

Something made me look down, and there was my ID card clipped to my belt. Had it always been there?

Although the descriptions of the station offices fall on the spartan side, it’s in the small details where the writing shines. Snippets about Priyanka’s colleagues and brief but intense sensory interactions are some of my favourite segments, revealing low-key but characterful information about Priyanka’s colleagues’ lives, and what Priyanka herself remembers and values.

The game moves forward steadily, with minor puzzles that serve to enhance the atmosphere rather than challenging the player for any great length of time. As it progresses, it becomes clearer that Priyanka is in an altered state of being, but Sigil Reader (Field) is not about enforcing the player’s will on the world: it’s more about savouring the story, the world, and Priyanka’s experience.

The snippets of information we get whet the appetite for more. As Christopher Huang notes: “It feels like there’s a lot of detail in this setup that’s just a little bit beyond the frame.”

Though Sigil Reader (Field) is successful as is, I wonder where it would have gone with a longer deadline. More than that, though, I’d love to see more in this setting … and more non-Euro/US settings generally, more Malay SFF in the IF world, and more Singlish. The dreamy atmosphere and lightly-creeping dread of this game means I’m looking forward to playing more of verityvirtue’s work in Ectocomp 2017.

IF Comp 2016: Roundup

Here’s where you can find my IF Comp 2016 reviews! Once the comp is over and/or I’ve reviewed all the games I can, I’ll post a rundown of overall thoughts about the games, standouts and favourites, and all that kind of thing.

Blurb and Cover Mini Reviews: All games

Black Rock City by Jim Munroe
Mirror and Queen by Chandler Groover
Quest for the Traitor Saint by Owlor
The Skyscraper and the Scar by Diego Freire and Ruber Eaglenest
Take by Amelia Pinnolla

IF Comp 2016: Blurb Reviews

IF Comp is here! The biggest outpouring of interactive fiction all year, and a ton of people writing about it. I’m going to try to write reviews of the comp pieces this year, so here’s an initial preamble inspired by Bruno Dias and Cat Manning before I put down my initial impressions of the blurbs for posterity.

I won’t review everything in the comp, partly because I don’t have the time and energy, and partly because a couple of games contain subject matter that I’m not the target audience for.

I am  not a professional reviewer, nor do I think reviewers (professional or otherwise) have a duty or ability to be unbiased. My plan is to show my impressions, my preferences, and my recommendations to players based on such. Where I make recommendations, recommendations with caveats, or negative comments, I’ll do my best to illustrate why.

I am a social creature, and have friendly chats with many of the authors of this year’s entries. That said…

I am reviewing the games, not the authors. If you feel I’ve made a personal attack on you, please get in touch, but my aim isn’t to be snarky or tear anyone down.

With all that in mind, on with the blurb-judging! To summarise if you don’t have time to read the reams below:

  • Please make sure title and author text are clearly visible on cover art. There are a lot of games where you can barely see the title, which spoils the cover rather.
  • Please don’t be self-effacing in blurbs. It turns me off the game right away.
  • Less is often more. A strong few sentences that say a lot about a protagonist, setting or dilemma can be more effective than overloading the reader with ingame lore, especially for an SFF game.
  • …That said, sometimes it can be too minimal. I want to know what gives the game its spark, vim and vigour. If the art can coordinate with the blurb content to reinforce tone, that’s all to the good.
  • I’m genuinely impressed with the blurbs: although some appeal more than others, I can for the most part see their appeal for other players.
  • To make me instantly want to play something, set it in a desert because I am all over that.

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