Ugly Oafs, by Perry Creel, is a parser-based game written in Inform. You can download it from the comp website or play it online here. I played it offline, as I prefer to do with parser-based games. Also, the author updated the game after the Comp began – the version I played was updated on October 9.
Push back the Wrath Pulse–or find the Fry Gun to destroy it for good!
A wordplay game with several ways to lose deliberately. Source code included.
Spoilers behind the cut.
This was another game that was plot-light, puzzle-heavy. The PC is shuffling home dejectedly from a failed D&D session when you are accosted by “ugly oafs” demanding your help. They lead you to a surreal landscape strewn with seemingly inexplicable objects – a clear indication that you need to solve a word-related puzzle.
It took me quite a lot of wandering around the grid-like landscape to get the knack of it. I wouldn’t exactly have called the solution “wordplay,” which to me connotes puns or similes or anagrams. Instead, this is a game about ciphers. There are two phases, one with a fairly straightforward set of rules that I figured out by myself, and one for which I had to consult the walkthrough.
I can only imagine the amount of time the author must have put into figuring out objects for the game that fit the rules. I hope that part was enjoyable – I feel like it could have a certain satisfaction. To reverse the process and decipher the puzzles, I used a handy website I found, some charts I scribbled on my iPad, and some bits of paper – also rather satisfying. There were some objects I could never figure out, though. (Oh! Another penny just dropped – I just realized I could have dealt with the punk by leading him up to the other half of the world and transforming him there!)
I also had to consult the walkthrough to finish the game in my two-hour limit. The ending in the walkthrough was deliberately not the “best ending,” but even aside from that I felt like it didn’t quite make sense. A game with this kind of focus is bound to be surreal and not have a completely cohesive plot, and the author him/herself describes it as “stark and barren.” Still, I think a bit more story at the end would have given the game more of a feeling of completion.
Overall, this was a decent cipher puzzle. It’s not my favorite genre, but it was fun to play around with bits of paper and decode things for a while.