Friday, October 08, 2010

[IF Comp] Divis Mortis

There are three joys in playing the IF Comp. Joy one: playing a game. Joy two: reading a new review of a game you have already played. Joy three: reading all the reviews already published of the game you have just finished playing. Of course, that first joy depends on the quality of the games, and the other two upon either the wit or the wisdom of the reviewers -- but I'm not complaining.

I'm not going to complain (much) about Divis Mortis either. What was the probability of me playing two zombie games in a row? And yet, they could hardly be more different. Where that other game (name omitted because I wouldn't want to spoil it) steered clear of the dominant zombie genre, Divis Mortis embraces its genre roots. There is some narrative here, including a Plot Twist and a Ridiculously Tacked On Romance, but in the end the game is mostly what you get when you turn Left4Dead into an adventure game. A lonely hospital filled with zombies that must be shot down, with food, drink and medicine that must be found, and with inaccessible areas that must be opened up. I guess I was hoping for a ridiculous scene where you get to mow down hordes of wild zombies with a machine gun and hand grenades, then dispose of the survivors with a barrel of oil and a book of matches -- but hey, I'll be satisfied with what I was offered.

For this kind of game, it is essential that the puzzles are easy enough to ensure steady progress. It is, after all, the interactive fiction equivalent of watching a zombie movie, and this means that at no point must the viewer/player/reader be allowed to sit back and think. If you sit back and think, you will notice the emptiness of the genre. In my experience, Divis Mortis did this well -- the only time I consulted the hints was when "throw ammonia at man" didn't work and I had to type "throw ammonia at opening" instead. One progresses steadily, chuckles a little, smiles at the gruesome descriptions, finishes the game, and that's that. Simple entertainment.

How to score such a game? I'm not too critical here. You wanted me to enjoy myself, I enjoyed myself, you get an okay score.

Divis Mortis does need a more polished post-competition release, though. The prose especially needs some work. Watch this:
An assortment of gifts and necessities, designed to milk more money out of patients and their visiting families. The place is quiet and poorly lit, lending to a dystopian atmosphere. There are rows and rows of low shelves containing gift cards, knick-knacks, flowers and balloons.  There is a section containing flashlights, lamps and batteries especially catches your eye.
The second and fourth sentence are clearly ungrammatical, and I'm not so sure you can milk something out of someone either. (But that might just be me now knowing English idiom well enough.)

Also, there are some weird descriptions and responses that might be a result of too much haste:
> take stapler
I believe that belongs to someone else.
I'm taking absolutely everything I find, but the stapler belongs to someone else?
> talk to man
All you get is curses.  He is quite determined to keep you out.  You could always try asking him about something, but it doesn’t
>
Something went wrong there as well.

Anyway, I liked Divis Mortis. If you feel like killing some zombies, and Left4Dead is too tense for you (and it is tense, I can't play it for longer than an hour before feeling exhausted), you could do worse than load up this little game.

2 comments:

  1. "take stapler" may be a reference to Milton Wadams from "Office Space." I'd say it's a bit of a misfire on breaking the tension.

    Maybe could've made a cool staple gun though.

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  2. Only the 4th sentence is ungrammatical. I know what you mean in the 2nd sentence but the construct is actually fine. Also, milking people out of money is a very common expression in English. Just thought you would want to know.

    Always enjoy your reviews!

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