IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 07:45
Is it well written? Yes, it is extremely well written. We will now spend the rest of this article talking about the "gimmick" (the author's choice of word.)
I don't think I liked it (the gimmick, I mean.) Maybe this has more to do with the way I write IF than the way I play it. I like to thread story and motivation into the results the player gets to his actions. In this game (I will not lay aside the word, mostly out of stubbornness) -- in this game, there are no results. So I don't feel any motivation. It may sound dumb, but I didn't even think of typing "kill me" until I read the walkthrough. I wanted to go talk to someone, go to sleep, go wake up the girl and get into her pants. I couldn't do any of that, so I sat in the chair and typed "wait" until I got bored and read the walkthrough. Was that (part of) what you, the author, intended? If not, then the game didn't work for me. It did not communicate the story to me fully.
Next time, leave in "save" and "restore". Yes, I know you took them out for a reason. I don't think it was sufficient reason. I got tired of going through the beginning moves, and this happened before I thought I had seen everything. So I got out TXD and dumped out all the game text and read that. (As it happened, I had seen most of the story paths by then.) Are you disappointed in me? Fortunately, my goal isn't to impress you.
Leaving out "save" and "restore" made the game too boring to experiment with as much as I usually do. I don't mean the effect was a total failure; it set an atmosphere in which things mattered -- especially dealing with Annie -- random experimentation was obviously discouraged because I was dealing with a human being, here. But by the same token, I didn't get as much out the program as you put into it. Maybe that part was what you intended. I don't know.
I shall briefly break ranks and compare "In The End" to "Tapestry", the other entry I have played (thus far) whose storytelling truly impressed me. "Tapestry" was a little more cliched, a little less interesting, a little less well-told. But I liked it more. Of course, it's hard to separate my reaction to "End"'s gimmick from my reaction to "End"'s miserable depressing awful theme. I suspect the themes have more to do with my ratings than the gimmicks -- because "Tapestry" was also, in a sense, puzzle-less. It did have complicated actions which were hard to accomplish, but not any harder than getting Annie to like you. On the other hand, "Tapestry" did require player involvement in more places, and gave more feedback and more positive reinforcement when I got through each "puzzle". I think it comes down to motivation again, and (as the "About" text notes) "End"'s theme precludes motivation in any event.
But I still give "Tapestry" a higher score. There. That's the bottom line.
PS: I think you should have left the walkthrough out. Anyone who complained should get an aggrieved look. Let 'em change their vote if they thought you acted wrongly.