A Final Grind

This looks at first like a standard dungeon crawl with randomised combat, but the twist is the "Parry" mechanic (more like a riposte, actually) wherein you can avoid all damage AND inflict damage to all the enemies before you. Rather than depending on chance, this mechanic asks you to cough up the answer to a math question, ranging in difficulty from "2 + 2" to "37 * 43" to something with an algebraic expression. It's madly powerful, even if it doesn't do as much damage to a single enemy as the bog-standard attack, and I honestly don't see why one wouldn't keep using this as one's default. Granted, there's an "Exhaustion" stat that increases more quickly (apparently) when we rely on parrying; it supposedly makes us more likely to miss on our standard attacks, but if we're not using standard attacks, then it hardly matters.

The other stat that increases with time is "Self-loathing". I'm not entirely sure what that's about, as a stat at least. Presumably it figures in the ending.

I've not seen the ending, though, because the game as it is right now is broken. There is a cave-in that I think I'm supposed to clear with a shovel, except that the only place that recognises that I've picked up a shovel is the place where I found the shovel. And there's a barrier that calls for a password but gives me no way of telling it that password. Which I've found, by the way.

We are two days from the end of IFcomp as I write this, and there does not appear to have been an update, ever. I understand that bugs happen, but surely an author should have at least checked to see that their game can be won?

Anyway, the writing is decent. Our protagonist's self-loathing makes for an interesting twist, and I can see that there's a bit of backstory depth woven in. I guess the story is going for an exploration of what it means to be a hero, but, due to the bugs above, I've not been able to see much of it. That's a pity. This could have been an interesting take on the standard RPG tropes.

If this were breakfast, it would be crusty bread and cheddar cheese, grilled and burned. Very bitter coffee. An interesting idea, but not entirely edible.