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[personal profile] healyg
The IF Comp of 2015 is over (or nearly so), and I've got some things to say about it overall, but first, some capsule reviews!

Note: Because I have been reading some Parker books lately, I will describe each game as the Parker character it most closely resembles at the end of each review. It will be fun! For me at least.

Recorded: The plot in this was waaay more obscure than it needed to be; I still don't know what a "Recorder" is, nor could I easily sum up the story. You walk around these empty (or nearly so) rooms, examining the messages left behind by the nearly eponymous Recorder, until you read enough messages and can go home. I mean, end the game. I got stuck and had to check the walkthrough, but even this was an annoyance: for some reason the game's author chose to have a transcript of the entire game as the walkthrough, which made hunting for what I needed to do a hell of a lot more difficult than it needed to be. (In case you play this game and need help: there's an extra message in the room with the diamond. You're welcome.) Anyway, this was kind of a terrible game.
If it was a Parker character... I dunno, probably the amateur who screws things up and nearly gets everyone killed.

Nowhere Near Single: This is a game about a poly-relationship that goes through rough times thanks to the player character's pop star job. This was very nice (I was really caught up with the characters by the end), but there were a couple parts that got pretty tl;dr. I have to admit I was skimming some of the long passages with no choices. Still, a nice game, and it wrapped up pretty well.
If it was a Parker character... It'd definitely be Grofield. Smart, creative, witty, but sometimes you can't help yourself from saying, "Shut up, Grofield."

The Pit of the Condemned: This is a short puzzle game about escaping and killing a beast that's after you in an abandoned city. It plays a little like Hunt the Wumpus, if you've ever heard of that game. There are a couple rough edges to the game (some undescribed scenery objects, some fiddly bits with the parser), but nothing fatal. A single game of it runs pretty quickly, though it might take a while depending on whether or not the monster's really gunning for you. Anyway, I really enjoyed it.
If it was a Parker character... It'd likely be Parker himself. Efficient and practical, but cold, brutal, with some rough edges.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the Comp proper. Overall, I'd have to say this is one of the best Comp years I've ever played through. Nearly every game I tried had something to offer, and even with the ones I hated, I could at least tell that the author put some effort into making it. And the variety was great too! I mean, there were an awful lot of games about aliens and/or space this year, but even within that category, you had a murder mystery, a parody/pastiche of 50s B-movies, a summer camp story, a horror story set on a space station, a cute game about a cat, et al. It's hard to believe that just seven or eight years ago we were talking about in worried tones about whether or not the Comp would survive (the onslaught of bad games, the dire lack of good games, the dire lack of any games at all; pick your own apocalyptic scenario).

Now, without any further ado, let's have some meaningless stats!

Scores I gave out: Without any specifics, I gave out one 3, two 4s, two 5s, four 6s, nine 7s, four 8s, three 9s, and one 10.

Games I expect to see in the top 10: Life on Mars?, Birdland, Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!, Midnight. Swordfight.

Games I expect to see in the bottom 10: Recorded, The Man Who Killed Time, The Speaker

Game which I believe will take the Golden Banana: (AKA, the game with the highest standard deviation score) Probably Taghairm, if it'll be something I played.

Games which will likely place lower than I think they will: Summit, Duel, Crossroads, A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood, Pit of the Condemned

Games which will likely place higher than I think they will: 5 Minutes to Burn Something, King and Crown, Final Exam, Grandma Bethlinda's Variety Box

Games I have not played which will likely place in the top 10: Cape, Map, Switcheroo, Unbeknown, Arcane Intern (Unpaid)

Games I have not played which will likely place in the bottom 10: Grimm's Godfather, Cat Scratch

Best parser games I played this year: Midnight. Swordfight., Brain Guzzlers from Beyond!, Life on Mars?

Best hypertext games I played this year: Birdland, Summit, Crossroads

Aaaaand that's a rap! This year was a stunning success in terms of churning these reviews out, so I hope to do these again next year. See you then!
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