Surface is probably the most intuitive games in the comp. The dual story is not hard to guess at, but not in an 'oh, DUH, obvious' way. You know, because the writing is more than competent, the two protagonists will meet. The question is how and why.
It actively restricts the player to only interesting stuff, and that's no small feat. I never really felt lost in this game and I managed to avoid the randomness that plagued others. The author found it easy to tweak that. Some things in the game, you can just point to and say this works, and that's the case with the background drawn behind the text, which feels right, not too busy. It's a great use of twine and really gives me the feeling that, yes, I could add graphics to twine too, and I wouldn't need to do *too* much, even if I didn't do things as well.
I think the writing is strong enough that a slipup like bad random stuff (by now fixed) is no big deal & it's the sort of thing updates should cover. The author admitted it to his testers, and I'm worse at it than he is, but yeah, starting a bit earlier would've given this game even more polish, whether to let people understand the random meetings better or even, well, there's one suggestion I had (and still like) that was tricky on short notice, and the author did well to concentrate on the story. This game was obviously planned beforehand, and that made it fun to test and watch grow. I was in a unique position, not being able to see the ending and having to guess as the author put things together. I have a tendency to barge in, so being forced to wait was a welcome new perspective. So I'm glad the author found the time.
When thinking about comp games I consider "I could play X other games like this." X varies positively with originality and ease of play. Surface has the highest X of all the games in the comp--Wyldkynd is second.
I'm also glad to have gotten to know the author--he helped me fix some late stuff with my 2013 IFComp entry, and I have no complaints about placing 2nd to him in 2013 Spring Thing. It's good that competitions can bring people together & I hope this happened for people competing this year too. Not that Geoff and I swap daily emails, but I respect and like the author and look forward to what he has planned. Plus he is one of those people with a clearly different writing style than myself that I seem to learn from. I think you can too. It's corny to say it, but the competitions are long-term about more than the scores.