cobaltnine: interactive fiction 2008 descriptive icon (comp 2008)
[personal profile] cobaltnine
Stalling for Time is a z-code game by Dominic Delabruere entered into IntroComp 2011.

I'm not entirely sure what genre this is, which is fine. You're a guy in his 20s - so far unnecessarily gendered, IMO, but that's sort of an 'advanced complaint' - going across the country to pick up your Uncle Ted from grad school. I tried restarting to see the grey-box intro text again, and Frotz isn't letting that happen for some reason, so I can't entirely say.

There's some of that sullen college philosophy in it, which, like horror and humor, needs to be handled carefully to avoid being trite or cliched. I do like how it starts with an action that I've already done; that's a nice way of dropping me in the middle. The kid's depressed, so he doesn't remember. Some people might think that's weak, but I suspect those people haven't ever really been depressed. So there's a point.

Conversation is handled OK, although I felt a bit rushed, as it let me choose one response before the NPC moved it along to the next set. This can be good or bad; it's better than making me go through all the options, which seems a bit popular in the ChoiceScript games, but in a first play-through in particular, I may want to try out a few questions, to get an idea of the scene or the potentials, without having to UNDO or restart.

I did hit an error when I attempted to 'talk to Kenji.' I also feel a bit awkward about Kenji - he bows, he 'humbly sits' - and so far I don't see him as a person. He's JAPANESE_GUY and we're going to use Japanese words. Why does Uncle Ted want us to give him a ride? How does he know him? Obviously, this could be expanded, but I feel a little wary right now. (I also felt awkward telling my uncle I wouldn't give him a ride in a second short play-through, but that's the kind of player I am.) I think the writing's generally good, so it's too bad the NPCs seem a bit flat.

Based on the inclusion of implemented texts discovered at one point, I am a little leery that this may turn out to be a religious game of self-discovery; I don't enjoy 'games' that I feel are pushing me to a particular agenda. However, I cannot make that judgement right now, given that this is an intro. Actually, I went back into the game to see if it let me swear, given that the term 'pisser' is used at one point. It does, so maybe the inclusion is just flavor - in which case, it's well done.

Do I want to see more? Sure, although I'm a little cautious.

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October 2012

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