Wednesday, October 01, 2008

IFcomp '08 Reviews: Cry Wolf

Each of the following posts will have space-filling introduction that has nothing to do with the actual game review to keep the RSS feeds from spoiling anything. These space-filling texts will be extremely boring and should be avoided at all costs. Even reading this very sentence is wasting precious time and energy. Go outside. Enjoy the autumnal weather. Or click the Read More! link below.

Spoiler-laden game discussion below, use caution (full review after the break):

Short Version: An interesting failure, gonzo horror meets implementation problems
Rating: 4

According to the "About" text, "Cry Wolf" is Clare Parker's first work of IF, and in this regard, I am impressed. It is clear that a massive amount of work and care went into it's creation, though the end result is severely marred by inconsistently quirky writing and bugs of varying seriousness.

The included walkthrough is labeled "beta walkthrough", which might explain why following it left the game unfinishable at the end of Act III, which was extremely frustrating. I did want to see how the story turned out. The walk-through, in fact, was completely necessary to me, and I would not have completed the story within 2 hours unaided. I think actually that is tied to the game's primary failure; as a first work of IF it seems overly ambitious.

I thought the story was interesting, and the climax where you perform surgery was... surprising. I've never seen that done in IF and I hope Clare will either smooth out this work or write more IF. I am supportive of any game that is sufficiently different, and this excels in that regard by crossing "dating/lycanthropy/bestiality/medical drama/horror" genres. The writing itself is just passable with some extremely weak spots, including a glaring double negative in the introductory text. Also the game had some awkward emergent text, such as after the extremely gripping surgery scene the game lists Julia again as "your priceless assistant", which was just the wrong tone for the scene. I think rereading/writing the text in many of the scenes with more distance would have have helped the author tremendously in conveying the atmosphere she hoped for.

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