[IFComp 2015] In the Friend Zone

In the Friend Zone, by Brandan Vance, is a hyperlink story/game. It is online here.

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A horror-parody in the tradition of Franz Kafka. Many regard ‘the friend zone’ as a metaphorical penal colony in which well-intentioned Nice Guys™ frequently find themselves trapped. But what if it were a physical penal colony?

And what if you became stuck in there with the Nice Guys™?

Review, with spoilers, after the cut.

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Intermission: PataNoir on new platforms!

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled* 2015 comp reviews with this breaking news:

Simon Christiansen’s PataNoir, which took fifth place in the 2011 IFComp, has been released for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. I loved this wordplay detective game when I played it in the comp, and I’m excited to see how it’s translated to a new medium. I’m also excited to share it around with various friends who are more likely to play an iPad game than a parser-based text adventure.

I’ll stay focused on this year’s comp for now, but now I know what I’ll be playing on November 16.

*I won’t claim these reviews are in any way occurring regularly, but I do PLAN to write them regularly. So that’s like scheduling them regularly, right? Roads, good intentions, &c., I know.

[IFComp 2015] Paradise

Paradise has actually been withdrawn from the competition because it turns out it had been publicly released before the comp. I didn’t find out about this until I’d been playing it for a while, though, so I’m writing about it anyway.

Paradise was created by Devine Lu Linvega and is online here. It is unlike any IF I’ve experienced before – a sandbox fiction, like Wikipedia meets Twine, all wrapped up in a dreamlike aesthetic. I found it bewildering and beautiful at first, then enthralling.

I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a spoiler for Paradise, but I’m putting the rest of this behind a cut simply for length.

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[IFComp 2015] Seeking Ataraxia

Seeking Ataraxia is a browser-based work by Glass Rat Media. (Despite the name sounding like a company, from the website I think the piece was created by just one person.)

Cover art for Seeking Ataraxia by Glass Rat Media

A simulation of what it’s like to live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, balancing life, relationships and neurosis on your quest toward peace.

It is a Twine-like format where the reader clicks on hyperlinks in the text to progress to the next page, sometimes choosing between several options. It is a short piece; I finished exploring it in about half an hour.

A review, with spoilers, behind the cut.

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[IFComp 2015] 5 Minutes to Burn Something!

I just played 5 Minutes to Burn Something! by Alex Butterfield.

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5 Minutes to Burn Something! is sort of a slice-of-life game, if your life is pretty wacky and your morals a bit tenuous. It’s a Z-code game, which I played using Zoom. It was updated almost immediately after the competition started to remove a bug that made the game possibly unwinnable, so I downloaded the updated version.

You’re great at burning bridges and midnight oil, but figurative fire can’t save you now.

Nice blurb.

You can download the game or play it online, both from IFComp.org. (At least while the comp is going on. I’ll try to remember to put in updated download information when the comp ends…)

Spoilers after the cut.

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[IFComp 2015] Scarlet Sails

My first game up is Scarlet Sails by Felicity Banks.

Cover art for Scarlet Sails by Felicity Banks. (c) Felicity Banks

Scarlet Sails is a web-based CYOA-style game that combines action with a little bit of relationship simulation:

A rollicking pirate adventure with plenty of swordfights, magic, rum, betrayal, and maybe even true love.

You can find it through the IFComp website or directly here. I recommend playing it with the soundtrack from Pirates of the Caribbean in the background!

A review with some spoilers after the cut.
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IFComp 2015, go!

It’s a sign of how hectic my fall has been that I didn’t actually realize IFComp had started until October 2. And there are FIFTY-FIVE games this year! Somehow I don’t think this will finally be the magical year that I manage to play all the games before judging ends. Unless two-thirds of them are so horrible that I give up on them after five minutes, but I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen.

My personalized shuffle order starts with these games, so here’s what I have to look forward to:

Scarlet Sails
5 Minutes to Burn Something!
Seeking Ataraxia
Paradise
In the Friend Zone

I’m buckling my seatbelt… here I go!