IFRO

If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.
Orson Scott Card


Login | Register


Username:
Password:

Who is Online

We have 675 registered Members.

There are no Members online.

There are 12 Guests online.

4 Stars IFReview Rating Strangers in the Night

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-19 07:12 

Game Profile

Author
Rich Pizor

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Tads2

Release Year
1999

IFR Overall Rating
3 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
Strangers In The Night starts out with a cool premise: You are a vampire, and you awaken with a terrible thirst for blood. You must feed on at least three different victims (draining each only a little, so as not to arouse undue attention.) However, it's the summer solstice, the shortest night of the year, [The longest day, and therefore the shortest night. Thanks to Daphne Brinkerhoff for helping me through my apparently immense confusion on this issue. --Paul] and so you have only a limited time to slake your desires. Done well, this could be a sort of undead Varicella, where with every iteration of the game you figure out more and more about how to satisfy your needs. Unfortunately, Strangers In The Night turns out to be more of an undead Fifteen. You wander around an extremely minimally described cityscape (most rooms have no description at all) solving rudimentary puzzles, most of which just amount to unlocking a door, then walking in and typing "BITE <victim>". What little writing is present has some nicely gothic moments -- I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the PC's apartment. On the other hand, it is also riddled with a goodly number of errors, including two in the first two sentences. Misspellings, plural/possessive errors, awkward phrasings -- they're all there.

Compounding this problem is a generous serving of bugs. The game credits no beta testers, and the lack of testing definitely shows. Some locations (restaurants and the like) are described as closed when they definitely (at least, according to the information you get from the doorman) should be open. My first time through the game I failed to find any victims before the sun came up, mostly because I was exploring the gridlike map to see if it was really as empty as it seemed, and as the sunrise approached the game started giving me warnings. This is great, although giving them EVERY SINGLE TURN NO MATTER WHAT I DO might be considered a little excessive. In addition, the warnings describe the sky getting pinker, etc., even when I'm inside locations like a dank night club or my own windowless apartment. Anyway, heeding the warnings I returned to my apartment and got back in bed, but when the sun came up, the game told me I was trapped where I didn't belong. It then helpfully chided me "Pity you never made it home." In addition, there are lots of spots where the game displays the default response abutting a specialized response. If this were an Inform game, I'd say the problem is a lack of "rtrue"s. I don't know what causes it in TADS, but I suspect it's something roughly equivalent. Here's an example:

>ask bouncer about bouncer
You have no interest in or use for the bouncerThe bouncer is in a rather
public place; that kind of interaction isn't advisable.Surely, you can't
think the bouncer knows anything about it!

After hitting a long stretch of bugs and writing errors, the novelty of the premise wears off pretty quickly.

It's that much more frustrating, really, because an IF game from the point of view of a vampire is just a really cool idea waiting to be done well. It just seems that nobody quite gets to it. Infocom had one in the planning stages before they folded. (It was to be written by Plundered Hearts author Amy Briggs). A guy named Sam Hulick made a big announcement that he was going to write one -- even got a piece of it included as an example in the Inform manual -- but it never materialized. Now there's Strangers In The Night, which definitely has some nice conceptual elements but whose execution (no pun intended) is sorely lacking. The vampire PC is so rife with possibilities -- it can have unusual goals and vulnerabilities, as demonstrated in this game. It can have unique modes of travel. It can allow the author to play with all sorts of interesting questions of moral ambiguity and complicity within the player/PC relationship. Even better, it gives the writer access to a wealth of popular and canonical allusions, and allows the kind of rich gothic writing practiced by Anne Rice and any number of Victorian writers. Frankly, I think it would be awesome. Hey, all you IF writers out there: write that great vampire game! I know it doesn't exist yet, but I very much want it to, because Strangers In The Night really got me itching to play it.

[I just reread this and something in the back of my mind said "Horror of Rylvania." I haven't played that game yet, and the only review I've ever seen was very brief. Somebody care to review it for SPAG so I know if it's what I'm looking for?]

Paul OBrian Profile

Name Paul OBrian
Gender Male

Also IFReviewed by

Andrew Plotkin

This IFReviewer IFReviews

- 1-2-3...
- 2112
- A Bear
- A Crimson Spring
- A Day for Soft Food
- A Day In The Life Of A Superhero
- A Good Breakfast
- A Light's Tale
- A Moment of Hope
- A New Day
- A Night Guest
- A Paper Moon
- A Party to Murder
- Aayela
- Acid Whiplash
- Ad Verbum
- Adoo's Stinky Story
- Aftermath
- Al Otro Lado
- Alien Abduction?
- All Things Devours
- Amnesia
- an apple from nowhere
- And the Waves Choke the Wind
- Arrival, or Attack of the B-Movie Cliches
- Asendent
- At Wit's End
- Augustine
- Aunt Nancy's House
- Babel
- Baluthar
- Bane of the Builders
- Beat the Devil
- Begegnung am Fluss
- Being Andrew Plotkin
- Bellclap
- Best of Three
- Bio
- Blade Sentinel
- Blink
- Bliss
- Blue Chairs
- Blue Sky
- BOFH
- Breaking the Code
- CaffeiNation
- Calliope
- Carma
- CASK
- Castle Amnos
- Cattus Atrox
- CC
- Cerulean Stowaway
- Chaos
- Chicks Dig Jerks
- Chronicle Play Torn
- coffee quest II
- Color and Number
- Colours
- Coming Home
- Comp00ter Game
- Concrete Paradise
- Congratulations!
- Constraints
- Crusade
- Curse of Eldor
- Curse of Manorland
- Death to my Enemies
- Delusions
- Desert Heat: A Romance Of Sorts
- Dinner with Andre
- Domicile
- Don't Be Late
- Down
- Downtown Tokyo, Present Day
- E-Mailbox
- Elements
- Enlightenment
- Enlisted
- Episode In The Life Of An Artist
- Erehwon
- Eric's Gift
- Escape from Crulistan
- Evacuate
- Exhibition
- Fear
- Fifteen
- Film at Eleven
- Fine Tuned
- For a Change
- Fort Aegea
- Four in One
- Four Mile Island
- Four Seconds
- Friday Afternoon
- Fusillade
- Futz Mutz
- Getting Back To Sleep
- Glowgrass
- Goofy
- Goose, Egg, Badger
- Got ID?
- Gourmet
- Grayscale
- Guard Duty
- Guess the Verb!
- Halothane
- Hell: A Comedy of Errors
- Hercules First Labor
- Heroes
- House of the Stalker
- Human Resources Stories
- Hunter, in Darkness
- I Didn't Know You Could Yodel
- I Must Play
- Identity
- Identity Thief
- In the End
- In the Spotlight
- Informatory
- Internal Documents
- Invasion of the Angora-fetish Transvestites from the Graveyards of Jupiter
- Jacks or Better to Murder, Aces to Win
- Jane
- Janitor
- Jarod's Journey
- Journey from an Islet
- Jump
- Kaged
- Kallisti
- King Arthur's Night Out
- Kissing the Buddha's Feet
- Koan
- Kurusu City
- Leaves
- Letters from Home
- Life on Beal Street
- Lightiania
- Lists and Lists
- Little Billy
- Little Blue Men
- little girl in the big world
- Lomalow
- Lovesong
- Lunatix
- Lurk. Unite. Die. Invent. Think. Expire.
- Madame L'Estrange and the Troubled Spirit
- Magocracy
- Maiden of the Moonlight
- Marooned
- Masquerade
- Metamorphoses
- Mingsheng
- Moments Out of Time: Explorer Type
- Moonbase
- Murder At The Aero Club
- Muse: An Autumn Romance
- Music Education
- My Angel
- My First Stupid Game
- Mystery Manor
- MythTale
- Nevermore
- Ninja V1.30
- No Room
- No Time to Squeal
- Not Much Time
- Of Forms Unknown
- On the Farm
- Only After Dark
- Order
- Out of the Study
- Outsided
- Pass the Banana
- Persistence of Memory
- Phlegm
- Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection
- Photopia
- Phred Phontious and the Quest for Pizza
- Piece of Mind
- Pintown
- Planet of the Infinite Minds
- Poor Zefron's Almanac
- Prized Possession
- Prodly the Puffin
- PTBAD 3
- Punk Points
- Punkirita Quest 1: Liquid
- Purple
- Ralph
- Rameses
- Ramon and Jonathan
- Rape, Pillage, Galore!
- Redeye
- Remembrance
- Rent-A-Spy
- Research Dig
- Return to Zork: Another Story
- Reverberations
- Rippled Flesh
- Risorgimento Represso
- Ritual of Purification
- Ruined Robots
- Sardoria
- Scary House Amulet!
- Scavenger
- Schroedinger's Cat
- Screen
- Shade
- Shadows on the Mirror
- She's Got a Thing for a Spring
- Silicon Castles
- Sins Against Mimesis
- Six Stories
- Skyranch
- Slouching Towards Bedlam
- Small World
- SNOSAE
- Sophie's Adventure
- Spacestation
- Splashdown
- Spodgeville Murphy and the Jewelled Eye of Wossname
- Square Circle
- Stack Overflow
- Stargazer: An Adventure In Outfitting
- Stick It to the Man
- Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country
- Sting Of The Wasp
- Stone Cell
- Stranded
- Stupid Kittens
- Sun and Moon
- Sunset Over Savannah
- SURREAL
- Sweet Dreams
- Sylenius Mysterium
- Symetry
- Tapestry
- Temple of Kaos
- Temple of the Orc Mage
- Terrible Lizards
- The Adventures of the President Of The United States
- The Atomic Heart
- The Beetmonger's Journal
- The Best Man
- The Big Mama
- The Big Scoop
- The Case of Samuel Gregor
- The Cave of Morpheus
- The Chasing
- The City
- The Clock
- The Coast House
- The Commute
- The Cruise
- The Djinni Chronicles
- The Edifice
- The End Means Escape
- The Erudition Chamber
- The Evil Sorcerer
- The Fat Lardo and the Rubber Ducky
- The Frenetic Five vs. Sturm und Drang
- The Gostak
- The Granite Book
- The Great Xavio
- The HeBGB Horror!
- The Isolato Incident
- The Land Beyond the Picket Fence
- The Last Just Cause
- The Lost Spellmaker
- The Masque of the Last Faeries
- The Meteor, The Stone And A Long Glass Of Sherbet
- The Moonlit Tower
- The Newcomer
- The Obscene Quest of Dr. Aardvarkbarf
- The Orion Agenda
- The Pickpocket
- The PK Girl
- The Plant
- The Realm
- The Recruit
- The Tempest
- The Temple
- The Test
- The Town Dragon
- The Trip
- The Water Bird
- Thorfinn's Realm
- Threading the Labyrinth
- Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
- Timeout
- To Otherwhere and Back
- Tookie's Song
- Trading Punches
- Transfer
- Trapped in a One-Room Dilly
- Travels in the Land of Erden
- Triune
- Typo
- Unholy Grail
- Unnkulia X: Escape of the Sacrificed
- Unraveling God
- Vicious Cycles
- VirtuaTech
- VOID: CORPORATION
- Volcano Isle
- What-IF?
- When Help Collides
- Where Evil Dwells
- Who Created That Monster?
- Winter Wonderland
- Withdrawal Symptoms
- Wrecked
- Yes, Another Game With A Dragon!
- You Are Here
- You Were Doomed From the Start
- Zero One
- Zero Sum Game
- Zombie!