Thursday, October 15, 2009

[IF Competition] Snowquest

This time, I'd like to use the spoiler space to present the "most insightful remark I've seen so far in an IFComp 2009 review". The award goes to Jenni of Pissy Little Sausages for the following observation:
Y’know, every time I read “Violence isn’t the answer to this one,” I am skeptical, because very often this default message is left as a failure notification in places where you’re simply using the wrong kind of violence, or on the wrong thing.
That, my friends, is hard-won IF wisdom.

Anyway, let's go on to Eric Eve's Snowquest. This too is a game that is a bit too surreal and confusing for its own good. We have reality and we have a quest, which turns out to be a metaphorical/hypnotical something, but then we also have flashbacks within the quest and a further even more metaphorical dream-sequence... hard to keep track of, even harder to fit together once you have completed the game.

I think that one of strengthening this game would be to simply cut out the interactive flashback and the dream-sequence altogether. Gameplaywise, they add nothing, and the dream especially felt too generic and too meta-metaphorical to be a worthwhile addition to the game. This would make the game hang together more tightly, which is something that would do Snowquest no harm.

It wouldn't solve the problem of the main, "real" story being completely unbelievable, of course. (An fake FBI-agent with a look-into-the-future crystal? The solution to the problem of global warming being dependent on a little piece of equipement being flown to a scientific measuring station on time? Let's not discuss the ideology of the latter plot element.) (But maybe Eric Eve wanted to give us a game where the not-real is more believable than the real, in order to confuse us further? Perhaps erasing the borders between the real and the fictional was his artistic goal?)

In other words: I'm not sold on this story, and since the story is an important element of Snowquest, I'm not sold on this game. Last year's Nightfall was much better, for instance. Nevertheless, the gameplay is as we expect it from Eve: very solid indeed. Quite traditional, but entertaining.

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