IF Competition 2008 Review #3: Cry Wolf

Name: Cry Wolf
Author: Clare Parker
Review Date: 13 Oct 2008
Parser: Glulx
Availability: IFComp 2008 Entrant
URL: http://www.ifcomp.org/
Version: Competition Version

Plot: 7/10 – Started cliche, but the middle was quiet original and entertaining.
Atmosphere: 4/10 – House and town was generic anywhereville.  The expected tense tone only lasted the first night, the rest was interesting, but not overly atmospheric.
Writing:  5/10 – Writing was not great in parts, particularly in the beginning, but got much better into the end game.
Game play:  5/10 – Good noun implementation for the most part, interesting actions and interactions.
Characters:  6/10 – Andrew and Marissa were quite well defined and interesting.  Main char was watery and whiney.
Puzzles: 5/10 – I’ve never before played a game where you actually perform an operation on a dog.
Overall:  6/10 – There is quality story here that could do with a bit more of a polish, but has a lot to offer.

—–
Full Review (Warning: Spoilers)

This is the first of the games i’ve tried so far this competition that I can truly say I enjoyed, wholeheartedly.  It wasn’t perfect, or anything even close – it caught me in a bit of a picky mood i’m afraid.  In anycase, I was irritated right from the start by the intro which really dropped the ball as far as writing quality goes.  It was terse when it should have been setting the scene.  I found this particularly odd given the attention shown to detail – like a reasonable covert art submission which is something you don’t often see in ifcomp games.  I think this may have been an oversight as it got far smoother later in the game.

Good attention was paid to the environment, which is something I always look for early on in a game.  Searching the early rooms in the game just about every noun was implemented with something.  Not always perfectly, some things that stick out are you can open and search the dresser without getting out of bed, if you take Celia’s clothes out you can examing the dresser and see it overflowing with your clothes, then search it and be told it is empty.  Also, if you have searched the room and taken celia’s clothes (or even merely opened the dresser) then you cannot take your own clothes and get dressed, something that can be quite confusing.  One other thing about the first room, I think far too many things in the room directly mention Celia and how she’s gone now.  Sure its backstory and goes to state of mind, and obviously he misses her very much, but it belaboured the point a bit I feel.  By the time the character crawled out of bed I was well and truly sick of Celia and thought he was probably lucky to be rid of her.

A few other small things stand out.  At one point attempting to read a book points out that it’s too late, rather than points out that there is a giant wolf on you porch making that ill-advised.  Also, lets be honest.  How dense does the main character have to be – it’s a full moon, it’s a wolf in the middle of town who you splint, and you wake up with a naked woman in your bed, with splint, and…. what? Not even the inkling, crazy as it is?

That leads into the operation scene and the following interactions where the main character is told about Merissa being a werewolf which further points to the immeasurable denseness of the main character.  There are almost shades of Lovecraft in this story as the character’s mind is described and being close to snapping – a very Lovecraftian twist that but unfortunately inexpertly described.  When the operation is complete and the babies are described, definately the highlight of the game and quite original, and the main character’s perspective… shifts… this is quite well written.  However the panic he experiences when talking to Marissa and she claims to be a werewolf was unrealistic, flat and inappropriate.  Lovecraftian panic and madness is brought on by -seeing- things, experiencing things impossible and beyond the norm.  Not simply being told things, it’s easy to laugh off and disbelieve simple words.  Not to mention that the idea of her being a werewolf shouldn’t have been quite -that- much of a shock really, not after the moon, the split, the half-wolf-half-human puppies.  It’s not like there wasn’t warning that something strange was coming up now was it.

The ending was fairly obvious in the lead up and I must admit I played towards being furry at the finish.  I didn’t go back for any of the other endings, but it tied up the plot nicely and the character interactions were interesting.  I’ve always liked character conversations driving plot branches as a gameplay mechanic, but as i’ve mentioned before i’ve always preferred story to puzzles.

On the whole a decent little game that, with a little polish, could be quite recommendable.  Well done Clare.

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