cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
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Title: The Duel in the Snow
Author: Utkonos



C9-HFS-19 Scores

1. Technical: Full points for working normally.

2. Writing: Full points for working grammar, and full points for setting; I don't recall a classical Russian setting before, and there were enough details to give a good idea of time/place but not so many as to dictate the reader's view of the setting. I scored the story very highly as well, for many of the same reasons - backstory was nice, flashbacks vs dreaming implemented smoothly and without too much interruption. I could have been more angsty about my wife's leaving me; I felt on the cusp of emotional effectiveness and frankly, I'm not sure what could have pushed me over. I think it is positive for me to say that on reflection, I feel much the same as I did reading 'The Master and Margarita' - I enjoyed it, but something felt alien enough that I had a difficult time emotionally relating.

3. Puzzles and Bonus: I'm lumping these together as I had difficulty assigning a point to puzzles or to bonus. The final scenes have a variety of decisions. The first time I finished it, I died, and not in a poignant way. Due to the way poignancy is achieved, I suspect many moderately experienced IF players, who do die on their first attempt, would do the same - removing the watch and not necessarily putting it back in the pocket.

The density of the owl was hinted at very nicely, though. When I saw it, I immediately suspected it. In my mind the owl was a lot bigger, and I didn't think to myself, 'ah, yes, the same place that conceals a watch will hide a taxidermied snowy owl.' However, both this feathery armored ending, and the poignant ending, this one being the name I've given to the one when the pc dies with his watch in pocket and gets all misty near the end, are, I think, satisfying, although for different ways. Death is more literary; living makes me feel like my character is kind of clever.

As for 'amusing', one of my absolute favorite things to see at the end of a game, I wouldn't have thought to eat the windmill, although I did try to ride it. Some people eat things, I try to sit on them. I suppose that comes down to different approaches to beta testing.

Final Score: as of right now: 8/10. I might bump it up to 9 if nothing else strikes me, solely on the existence of the 'amusing commands to try'.

Submitted Score: (pending, see above)

Summary: A short IF, with nothing wildly innovative, but a different sort of location, well-developed for the shortness of the game, and interesting win and lose states.

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October 2012

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