IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin
on 2006-07-01 04:21
Serves me right. I trash a game for being minimal, railroady, and lacking in policy decisions. The next game I play, I have to praise for being minimal, railroady, and lacking in policy decisions.
This game, as the title implies, illustrates one event (albeit in several scenes). It's -- grn, I'm lacking lit-crit vocabulary here. What do you call a complete narrative that isn't a complete story? Never mind.
You only have one thing-to-do at any point in the game. Your commands are basically limited to deciding when to do it. But it works. I think it's because, in this one moment, the character isn't doing much; the game is intended to convey what it's like to live through it.
And the subject matter supports this. Trying to decide whether to call a girl about a date: one does dither, look around the room, re-read messages, and generally waste time before (ideally) picking up the phone. A forced-move IF scene plays exactly that way; so it fits.
(I also like the way objects pop to your attention. The author gives you a smooth sequence of dithering and time-wasting, which keeps the game moving along.)
Later scenes don't work as well -- less to do, more retyping of a single command as the protagonist narrates -- but the whole holds together reasonably well.
The story is surprisingly complex. Maybe that's not the right term either; but the central gimmick, the computer dating service, has a peculiar set of rules, and the story makes no sense if you don't understand them. I understood them. The author gets that information across early and painlessly, which is vital.