Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Game of Life and Death, by Kiel Farren

Life is not a game. Death is not a game.

/drops some sort of double-negatives booyah

Enough tedious riffing. With a title like this, I was surprised nobody'd used it before, so that's kind of neat. The story matter also surprised me--this is by far the least serious of the three ChooseYourStory games. It also is the only one to make use of graphics and an inventory, but unfortunately, it has a lot of faults. I'm not sure if this is due to the author or due to the medium. But enough got in my way that even with a walkthrough, I wound up with the semi-decent ending and missed stuff I should have had several times.

This entry seemed to have the most potential of all three, but it fell flat.

So you start out realizing your friend Layne is missing, and you've no good way to find him. The game gives some cheery instadeaths early which are kind of funny but a bit random, and then it seems to funnel you to a house--I actually missed out on some important things to do because I didn't go there until I had to,and then I missed several pieces of the medallion you need to construct. I thought I had them, but I wound up walking away...and this was further confused by having to walk away from the medallion after taking it. There's some bad architecture here.

With using items from your backpack also being counterintuitive and also the possibility of *not* taking an item the game shows you (You have to remember to click on it) I came to grief a bit. From what I saw of CYS in other games, it should allow you to do this. It should also not allow you to take an item twice, and it should know when you have an item in a room description. (If not, CYS is seriously flawed.) All this makes for a messy experience. A lot could be cut down--for instance, once you get the items from the shelves in the laboratory, that area could disappear.

And while I liked the graphic icons for the items I also found the stock photographs of the kitchen and so forth to get in the way of a comfortable compact reading experience & often obscured . The game became more about walls of text between click-a-thons, and the jokes and puzzles got a bit random. The big problem I had was that there weren't enough hints, even "you wonder if you armed yourself beforehand."

An example of this randomness is how I hit a bunch of instadeaths just walking home and playing it safe. So I said, ha-ha, I probably don't want to it the cemetery right away! This was a mistake.

So yeah there were also some parts where I saw things might go together, but the whole "Use item" mechanic was a bit annoying. And the humor was more the sort where you can get your friend to laugh at anything than actual funny and insightful stuff--some of the more tragic deaths were better done.

This game felt a bit out on an island & the walkthrough wasn't perfect either--I seemed to have lost my spiky backpack (which was a cool idea) at one point and wound up unable to get Layne to talk at the end.

The author made a lot of care for alternate endings but also seemed to go fishing for specious things like what sort of manga character you look like. This got in the way of the story for me.

1 comment:

  1. Your first line is philosophically provocative. I tend to agree that death is not a game, but I can totally imagine life as a game. :)