IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 07:09
This may be, I kid not, the most clever entry I've played yet. There's a lot of very subtle stuff going on -- starting with the use of first-person-past-tense in the introduction, switching to first-person-present-tense in the main story, did you notice that? The author is going in and paying serious attention to the relationship between the player and the protagonist, and the nature of the simulated game world in front of you. This is the same sort of territory that "Delusions" covers, but "Piece" worked a hell of a lot better for me.
Some of this is the bantering tone of the writing. This is a great demonstration of the potential of first-person IF; the protagonist comes through beautifully as a personality in his own right. Game text as spoken dialog, rather than exposition. (I don't know whether the game's weak spelling and grammar are deliberate or just the author's mistakes; I don't care, either. Spelling should be fixed eventually, but the slang and run-on sentences should be left as they are, you hear me?)
The storyline alternates being compelling and comic, and just when you think the question of your position as player has been swept under the rug, whammo. The ending doesn't shy away from, well, anything. (Assuming I have reached the ending. The author blithely ignored the requirement to include complete spoilers -- his walkthrough cuts off at the very last scene -- a decision I can only applaud at this point. "This point" meaning that I'm staring at the final screen, totally uncertain as to whether I've done it right. As the author obviously intended. As opposed to other contest entries, where authors submitted to having the "right" answers blazoned on their shirt sleeves. Foo on that. And you were wondering why my entry was a non-game which had no story to give away...?)
Well. I guess I should find some bad things to say. One spot of "guess-the-verb", not too hard to fix. A few more scenery objects that could have been implemented. A couple of bugs, a lot of spelling errors. A whole lot of places where the author forgot to put a backslash between lines of text.
On the author hand (I really meant to type "other hand" there, but I'll leave it the way it is!) there are all the guitar hints, which the author claims he really did improvise on the spot. That's worth a bonus point by itself.
PS: Played a little more; found a different ending. That's cool. I had tried the correct action, I think, but that synonym didn't work -- add it to the bug list. Mmm. Maybe.