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IF COMP 2004 - Redeye

Game #14: Redeye, by John Pitchers
Played On: 10/12/04 (1:15 PM to 2:30 PM)
Unofficial Score: 8.0 (no skew)

     This is a surprisingly short game (even with the two-hour guildeline). It's probably possible to complete it in two hours even without hints, although I peeked at the built-in walkthrough twice (once, when trying to figure out what to do with the cup, and again when I felt I was at a dead end inside the asbestos house). Redeye offers an interesting story. You are Stanley Southall, a carpet salesman who finds himself having an exceptionally bad day after playing host to one of his wife's clients. The story unfolds after a rough night of too much drinking, and the author manages to squeeze in two plot twists in such a short space.

     The first of these did catch me by surprise. As I discovered something interesting in the garage, the following confrontation was unexpected. The second twist, which ends the game (mild spoilers here) wasn't so unexpected. In fact, I made the connection even before finding the second clue inside the asbestos house. The second clue just confirmed it. Still, it's an entertaining story, a solid game, and by my scale that's a well-deserved 8.

     Now, the game leaves several questions unanswered (even with the hint to ask Agent Smith). In light of the ending, why would the note have appeared in evidence at all? The gun, yes, the brick, yes... but the note was counter-productive to all motives but my own. Why was the door to the 24/7 convenience store locked? Was there any food to be found in the game, or was that just a time limit for completing it?

     Skip this paragraph if you have no interest in the bug report. None of these are significant in completing the game -- just things the author might be interested in improving. It seems that the "toilet" scenery appears twice in the men's bathroom, not at all in the women's. A very similar bug almost made it into the final version of my own competition entry (and in my case, it would have made it almost impossible to complete). Here, it's just a quirk. One bathroom says no toilet exists, the other asks you to disambiguate between the toilet and the toilet. The noun "cycles" for the motorcycles would have been a nice touch (although 'bikes" worked fine). The word "inv" didn't work for inventory (this must be a TADS default). I dropped the bag before I left the hotel, yet the cops still accused me of having it. At the end, I'm allowed to leave with the brick (in fact, they didn't ask for any of the evidence back). I spent a little time trying to tell the driver where I wanted to go (because I knew) -- you've implemented "Say 'whatever'" so maybe that and "tell driver (about) blah blah blah" might make good additions. "You're" should be "your" in the line "You're head is starting to spin..." I use HTML TADS 3.0c (for Windows), and unless I changed it and simply don't remember, my default text font is black (probably black font, white background). This caused my input to appear invisible for the game, until I changed it. These things are all pretty minor, though.

     I found the game entertaining and fun to play. I liked that "verbose" was on by default (not sure why -- having it off doesn't bother me in other games). I liked the use of colors, and the ASCII title was pretty slick. My cellmate's profanity was funny, though excessive. Most of the puzzles weren't too difficult. The author did a good job putting thought into his game. The intent was to entertain the player with a good story, not just throw together some puzzles to provide a challenge. I think he went the right direction.

     This is one of those games, though, where you know your PC is being foolish, but you also can't continue unless you allow him to be. I really didn't want to leave the hotel carrying the weapon I found. That's why I left the bag behind, but the plot is at a standstill unless you do. I'd have rather found a phone, called an ambulance (and the police), and waited until help arrived. This is where, despite a good story, the plot foundation gets a little thin. Oh well. I still enjoyed it; all's well that ends well.

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