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6 Stars IFReview Rating Identity Thief

IFReviewed by Emily Short on 2006-08-01 04:17 

Game Profile

Author
Rob Shaw-Fuller

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2002

IFR Overall Rating
6 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator
Played to completion?: Not on the first pass, but eventually, yes.
House or Office: House
Rating: 6

From the first turns of the game, I sense that this is competently coded, though the author suffers (in my opinion) from logorrhea: I'm generally of the opinion that the introduction to a work of IF should be no longer than a couple of paragraphs, and that if you can't accomplish what you want to in that space, you might want to think of adding a scene or two to the beginning of your game to set things up. YMMV, of course, and I don't know that this is a fair rule in all cases, but I found that getting through the whole intro was hard going. It could have been cut a good deal without doing severe damage to either the style or content; indeed, I rather think the style would have improved.

I also quit this the first time I tried it because the unnecessary gore didn't really appeal to me. Went back to it later when I wasn't planning on eating in the near future, and this time I managed to finish it.

The opening sequence (after the intro) is, I think, pretty good, except there are some weirdly irritating failures of the parser to understand. I could have unlocked the mirror without resorting to the walkthrough, for instance, if it had responded to any of my attempts to LOOK IN MIRROR, LOOK IN RETINAL SCANNER, EXAMINE SCANNER, EXAMINE HIGHLIGHTS, etc., once I had stared at the Senator.

From there things just get worse, in a guess-the-verb sense; I have no idea how one would guess to tear oneself free of the 'membrane' when one is a grub, since the word is, as far as I could tell, not explicitly used. As for the car, I did not know what to expect from it — it didn't seem to recognize directional instructions, and I didn't realize that it would be able to DRIVE TO DOCTOR. That's a level of abstraction that most IF games don't use unless they first warn you about how to use the commands. Moreover, it recognizes DRIVE TO HOME but not DRIVE HOME. These are all little things that could be cleaned up trivially, but they have a severe impact on the gameplay, especially since there are no in-game hints short of the walkthrough (which spoils all).

Once I got to the doctor's, I was relying heavily on the walkthrough, so I don't know what the experience would have been like without it, but I found the ultimate explanation kind of glib and disappointing, low-level X-files stuff I've seen many times before. I was also sad that I didn't get to make use of most of my cool equipment: the bodyguard's handprint and possessions didn't come in useful at all, the catalyst spray didn't seem to be useful, etc. I never found a point at which it was necessary to retract my claws. If you're going to give me cool cyberpunky tools to toy with, I'd like them to function more centrally in the plot. (I don't know — perhaps the author meant to include some further puzzles here, but just ran out of time and/or room.)

So this demonstrates good writing and the coding potential for a solid, entertaining game, but the plot arc fell a little flat in the conclusion. I also didn't notice any beta-tester credits. Possibly testing (or more testing) would have worked out some of the communications issues in the game. I hope that the author will write further games but with a bit more attention to their playability. Without the verb-guessing problems, and with a little more fun stuff to do with the cybertoys, I would have awarded this at least one and perhaps two more points than I did.

Emily Short Profile

IFReviewer Rating
10 Stars IFReviewer Overall Rating

Name Emily Short
Gender Female