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IFCOMP 2008 - Riverside

Game #2: Riverside
Authors: Jeremy Crockett and Victor Janmey (Drew, Jeremy, and Vic)
Played On: October 4th (55 minutes)
Platform: Inform 7 (Zcode)

F:1 + T:0 + P:1 + S:0 + W:1 + B:0 = SCORE: 3

     It took three people to write Riverside? Really?

     The game starts promisingly enough, with a brief but provocative ďwishĒ sequence, followed by some sort of mystery based around a friendís murder. The writing is adequate (if a bit lengthy in spots), and it does a good job of building high expectations for the story proper. Although sparsely implemented (descriptions are painted on in many cases, and scenery doesnít exist as objects in the game world), nothing suggests that Riverside will turn out to be the lead-in for... for what?

     Itís a joke entry, most likely. Last yearís competition was surprisingly lacking in these, yet I fear this year (if upcoming titles and blurbs are any indication) may see an abundance of them. In some ways, it almost feels like the beginning of a serious entry that became a joke simply because the authors wanted to submit it but couldnít come close to finishing in time. Unless they explain, thatís anybodyís guess.

     In short, there isnít much to see or do here. A couple of introductory scenes offer enough interactivity to feel convincingly serious, but then it ends in the most jarring and cavalier of ways just before things should start to ramp up. Itís not just that itís an abrupt ending; itís that the ending thumbs its proverbial nose at the player, abandons continuity, lapses into what seems to be mockery, and does little but offer insight into some further absurdity that was there all along (a hidden verb, which can be used twice in the first scene and once in the second, but is oddly missing from the last section).

     So whatís Riverside, exactly? The authorsí idea of a joke, I guess. Itís certainly not a game thatís worth playing or recommending. Itís time wasted -- time that could have been spent playing and reviewing the next entry.

     As for scoring, Iíve given it a ď1Ē for writing (excluding the crazy bit at the very end, which is like that on purpose but to no fathomable reason) and a ď1Ē for puzzles (they amount to little but looking and moving around, but itís a very small fraction above what Iíd consider a zero). It gets, of course, the base point, but all else is zero. Thatís a generous ď3Ē from me. I donít think the authors were after a high ranking anyway.

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