IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 08:58
What a pity I'm in no mood to appreciate this. Well, I haven't been since the interactive fiction competition started up, so that's nothing new.
I didn't bother finishing this game. I got a bit stuck very early, went into the hints, and read through them all in lieu of playing. So I know more or less how it goes, but not how it gets there.
I can, however, comment on technical issues. The prose is excellent, of course. The choice of first-person, past-tense narrative... I'm glad someone finally did it, because now I can say that I've tried it and I don't like the effect. I've always felt it would be distancing, and it was distancing.
This is not the problem of being told what I'm feeling; I like that technique when it appears in a standard second-person-present game. It's purely a syntactic problem. If there was a game switch to flip all the syntax around, I would have used it, and the problem would have gone away. Unfortunately, while such syntax-changing is trivial from the writer's point of view, it's a pain in the butt to actually type in all the changes. As I'm sure the author knows from having done it once.
The human-interaction problem was reasonably deftly avoided, if I read the hints aright, but not entirely gone. One puzzle amounted to a guess-the-verb problem, simply because a perfectly sensible request didn't fit into the ask-tell-order model of most IF. It's hard to think of answers when you don't know the range of possible actions. That was only in one place, however, and the rest looked like it would have been fairly solvable.