Gris et Jaune

This has one of my favourite openings in this years comp. "Food is for eating. You should eat the food." I couldn't agree more.

So, the game itself is set in the Deep South, near the Mississippi, in the 30s, and is neck-deep in voodoo folklore. It's highly ambitious in terms of scope and story, but it could use a lot more polish. A lot of the puzzles seem rather poorly clued: by the end, I found myself working extensively from hints. Admittedly, the one stumbling block I had should have been obvious, and all the rest was just diminished confidence. I might have fared better, puzzle-wise, if I did not have several other competition games clamouring for my attention -- that is, if I could have devoted a whole week to just poking at this thing.

But I doubt if I would have spent a week poking at it. There is something about the writing that felt a little flat: in spite of the setting, which should be magnificently rich, and inspite of the changes in the gameworld brought about by the passage of time in-game, the world still felt a little sparse and flat. Part of this might be due to the map of the town: it is organised along the spine of a long street stretching from Dr Gris in the north and Mama John in the south. Everything comes off of this street. It is easy to fall into thinking that the street is uniform in character from one end to the other, so that every one of the junction points on it ends up being thought of as being "just another part of the corridor". Compare this with maps organised around a central hub -- say, in "Wishbringer", or more recently, "The People's Glorious Revolutionary Text Adventure Game". It is easier, I believe, to place oneself in terms of direction than in terms of distance. "East of the Fountain" is different from "North of the Fountain"; "Two Blocks from the Fountain" is pretty much the same place as "Three Blocks from the Fountain". Even if you sometimes confuse east and west, you are unlikely to confuse north-south with east-west.

Alternatively, I would suggest condensing the street a little. You can have more than two locations coming off of each part of the street if you want, and this will reduce the number of stops from one end to the other. "Corridor" locations tend to feel rather bland, so the fewer of them you have, the better.

I mentioned earlier that the gameworld changes with the passage of time. This is one way of bringing life to the gameworld. However, in this case the passage of time felt rather arbitrary. If the passage from one hour to the next was triggered by some action or accomplishment on the part of the player, I was never aware of it. If the game was on a timer, I never noticed that either. I suspect that the first was in fact the case, but that the triggers were either trivial, or else somehow delayed -- that is, that if I hit two time-changing triggers within a few turns of each other, the second would not occur until after a minimum number of turns have passed. Some deeper thought should be put into the game design here, some greater authorial control over what puzzles are available to the player at any one time, and what are not.

Otherwise, there's some very interesting stuff going on here. Polished up, it would be pretty awesome.

Sweet beignets and Irish coffee.