IFRO

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.
George Eliot


Login | Register


Username:
Password:

Who is Online

We have 676 registered Members.

There are no Members online.

There are 11 Guests online.

9 Stars IFReview Rating Best of Three

IFReviewed by Paul OBrian on 2006-07-20 09:43 

Game Profile

Author
Emily Short

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6 and Glulx

Release Year
2001

IFR Overall Rating
8 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
It's a common conceit in romance novels: Girl meets Boy; Girl takes an Immediate Dislike to Boy because he's aggressive, arrogant, insufferable, etc.; under Girl's influence, Boy sheds his Gruff Exterior; Girl falls for Boy and they end up Happy Together. I love Pride and Prejudice as much as the next Jane Austen fan, but I've always had a few problems with this structure, since it seems to reinforce the idea that jerky guys are really sweethearts underneath, so long as they meet a sufficiently [sweet/nurturing/independent/fiery] woman -- these fantasies rarely come true in real life, despite the people who go through their lives trying to make that story happen to them. Maybe having the Girl fall for somebody who was kind from the beginning might make for a duller story, but it'd be a less pernicious story, too. No doubt these objections all arise from my own High School Issues, but this is the mindset I brought to Best Of Three. In this case, we see the Boy being an ass at the very beginning of the story, only to learn later that he was the Girl's High School crush, both of them now having graduated and, theoretically, put the past behind them. The game consists mostly of an extended conversation between these two, with the Girl as the PC, and although the text kept prompting me to feel charitable and affectionate feelings towards the Boy, it was a hard role to step into. It probably didn't help that I found the Boy himself to be a rather pretentious, pompous git, and I distrusted him, even after he apologized, even after he revealed his own demons to me, and even after his Gruff Exterior was history. What the experience reminded me is that in IF, things the player actually experiences happening to the PC are orders of magnitude more powerful then things the player is told that the PC is feeling.

Of course, the beauty of IF, especially that written by Emily Short, is that there really are choices available. In a romance novel, the Girl has no choice but to tread the path that has been prescribed for her by the author, but IF offers the dizzying freedom to say exactly what we wish we could say to the story's haughty twit, or at least to find a closer approximation to it. The first time I played through this game, I meekly obeyed its prodding, making nice with the Boy and moving to rekindle the romance between the characters. Even then, I found myself having the PC speak much more bluntly and honestly than she was comfortable with, and the Boy reacted with predictable standoffishness. Still, at the end, the spark had been fanned, but the result felt strangely hollow to me. So I restarted the game -- it doesn't take long, perhaps 45 minutes at most -- this time ignoring its tenderhearted hints and pulling out the reactions I had wanted to take the first time around. In a testament to Emily Short's formidable skills as a designer, the game handled this direction with considerable grace and flexibility, despite its being against the fairly obvious grain of the text. I arrived at an ending that the game clearly didn't view as optimal, but that, thanks to some exquisite writing, felt far more satisfying to me, and even let the PC off the hook somewhat in its final words.

Having had both of these experiences made me appreciate the game much more than I would have had I not replayed, and there is much to appreciate here. The game's goal -- to create a conversation that feels authentic, and that moves the player, the PC, and the NPC to new emotional states -- is an ambitious one, but one well worth chasing. On several levels, the game succeeds. At many points, the conversation does indeed feel authentic, and it's clear that the underlying code is quite sophisticated; I noticed, for example, that the NPC would observe and comment when I'd change the subject, or be taken aback if I said something he wasn't expecting. There are still a few bugs in the system. Some of the same problems I noticed in Pytho's Mask were present here as well: there were times when the conversational options didn't seem to fit the situation, for example replies offered when no question had been asked; there were times when the game didn't respond to a command at all, just printing a blank line; there were times when the NPC responded to my change of subject, then brought the conversation back to his own interests, resulting in a seeming non sequitur (well okay, maybe that's a good simulation of real life. :) Still, glitches aside, the conversation felt real more often than it felt artificial, and that is a significant achievement. The writing is superior throughout, and achieves pure brilliance on occasion. I may have had some issues with the storyline, and I may have encountered some bugs, but I enjoyed Best of Three very much nonetheless.

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
- 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
- Strangers in the Night
- 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!