[IFComp 2014] One Night Stand

One Night Stand, by Giannis G. Georgiou, is a parser-based game made with Quest. It can be played online here. (It is not playable offline.) A note: you can play without registering, but if you want the ability to save your game, you have to make a free account with textadventures.co.uk or log in with another service (Google, Facebook, or Microsoft).

After a night of vodka and vague acquaintances, Sandy wakes up in an unknown bedroom, unable to remember the name of the man sleeping next to her.

Spoilers behind the cut.

One Night Stand is a short, lighthearted slice-of-life game with a few small puzzles. As the protagonist, Sandy, you must explore your one-night stand’s rather disgusting apartment and talk to his surly roommate to find out his name. Though it doesn’t have any major problems, there’s also not a lot to it, and I’m finding myself struggling to say much about it.

The puzzles were original but fairly straightforward. Although they weren’t deliberately over-hinted, the sparse room descriptions and object implementation made the solutions more obvious than the author may have intended. For example, the only object I could pick up in the living room was the telescope – an object that also seemed fairly out of place in the disheveled penniless-student setting. The sparseness also made the setting and characters feel flat. There were small attempts at adding atmosphere through touches like the D&D books on the bookshelf, but these almost made the place seem emptier because they highlighted the lack of other objects I would expect in a student’s apartment. (Textbooks, for example! I assume this guy isn’t getting a master’s degree in Handle Animal or Use Magic Device.)

I also think the author could have played more with dead-ends. If I woke up in a stranger’s apartment, I can think of several strategies I’d try for figuring out his name: looking for mail, checking the medicine cabinet for prescription bottles, checking inside his school notebook, maybe even peeping inside his wallet. Sandy didn’t try any of those things. Though I did poke around, nothing in Sandy’s inner monologue suggested she might be thinking as I was. I think there could have been some humor to be found if, for example, she uncovered a birthday card on the desk – only to find that it only says “Dear Nephew” on the inside. Then a letter rattles through the mail slot – but it’s addressed to OUR NEIGHBORS AT instead of a name. And so on.

Technically, the game was decent but not great. There was nothing outright buggy, but there was some guess-the-verb and odd syntax, such as KNOCK DOOR (but not KNOCK ON DOOR). Some actions were non-intuitively unrealistic, too. I really wanted to put the bra in the sink before putting chlorine on it, as to do otherwise seemed like it would make a mess, but the game wouldn’t let me. (Highlight the blank space to show the answer to a puzzle.)

Lastly, there were a couple moments where the game felt a bit male-gaze-y for something with a female protagonist, especially when I tried X ME while I was wearing just a t-shirt: “You look at your body and get stimulated by the way the garment leaves your thighs exposed.” That line rubbed me the wrong way. Also, the guy in the game is shown to be kind of a creep by the collection of stolen underwear in his desk drawer. I wished Sandy had gotten upset about that, instead of just calmly taking her own panties back.

One Night Stand is apparently the first in a future series with this protagonist. Unfortunately, it hasn’t piqued my interest enough for me to feel curious about what she does next. I probably won’t seek out the next game.

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