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IF COMP 2004 - Gamlet

Game #10: Gamlet, by Tomasz Pudlo
Played On: 10/09/04 (4:10 PM to 6:10 PM)
Unofficial Score: 8.0 (8.5 base with -0.5 skew)

     In earlier reviews, I have played the games then immediately given my thoughts. With "Gamlet", I have taken a half-hour break. I just don't know what to think about it. Perhaps I'm na´ve, but the writing is exceptional. Still... I can't help but think I'm missing something, as if maybe this is an in-joke (albeit a very elaborate one). As an occasional message board lurker in recent months, I found the name "Jacek" familiar. During the break, I did a Google Groups search, which turned up some interesting information. It seems the game was written by -- or more likely, about -- a message board "troll". Although "Gamlet" is difficult, mildly offensive in spots, and seems to carry some secret agenda, it's actually quite good.

     Did I mention that it's difficult? I did pretty well for a while, but the game is so layered that one object leads to three more, which lead to three more, and so on. As a player, you have to really dig deep or you'll miss pieces of the puzzle that are vital to the solution. As I became hopelessly stuck, I started referring to the built-in walkthrough more and more.

     To get the "bug report" out of the way, I didn't find much. The game was involving enough, though, that I scarcely looked for any problems. Trying to remove the yarmulke results in "you're not wearing it." The word "grow" is missing its "s" in the line that contains "A morello tree grow before..."

     This is the first game I've given a negative skew without one to compensate in the other direction. It ranks highly on my scale, because it's put together very well. The detail in "Gamlet" is amazing, from the sounds outside the windows to the custom responses when attempting to needlessly interact with various things. It skews down (but only a little) because I found it overly difficult; also, because I couldn't help but think the game was somehow giving the middle finger to someone (or multiple someones) disliked by the author, or to me as the player, or to the IF community in general. I'm sure it will all make more sense to somebody else.

     FOLLOW-UP: Early discussion in rec.games.int-fiction (what happened to waiting until the end of the judging period? Oh well) mentions the "ABOUT" text for the game. I realized I hadn't even tried that, so as a follow-up, I did. It's entertaining, and it does explain a little more about the game. At the same time, I was unable to decide what it really means about the author, the characters, and the story. Decide for yourself.

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