IFComp 2014 – Reviews – Eidolon

This is the first of hopefully many reviews for IFComp 2014.  Just a few words of warning….there may be SPOILERS.  If you don’t want to see, don’t read this post or come back to it after you’ve played it.  If you want to continue to read this post, please do at your own risk.

This year in playing the games, I randomized the list and the first one that came up was Eidolon by A.D. Jansen.  It’s a web based choice game, which while not usually my thing, I’m open to anything that gives me some enjoyment.  When I read the blurb however, I really didn’t know what to expect:

When you wake up, something is passing through the night sky

That was it, that was all we got as a hint of what was to come.  When I fired it up, there was that line again as the first that I see.  Only one choice was available for the first 10 screens or so and my initial thoughts were not favorable as that is not the type of “interactive” fiction that I enjoy.  But I was determined that I give all the games a fair shake.  And for the first half of the game, I’m actually glad I did.  Once I got past those initial screens, it moved into a section that really felt like I was on an adventure.  I had to explore and there was a sense of an inventory and some very simple “puzzles”  Yes it was linear and it was difficult to get off the main path for long, but what was there I enjoyed.  The writing was well done, though at times, we seemed to digress into something that seemed out of place.  For example, while the explanation of the “game” being played by gaining points for being quiet and losing points for making noise was clever, it lost it’s charm after a few times and I skimmed over the text thereafter.

This first section went on for a bit, long enough that I thought perhaps that the exploration was all there was to this one, but as I would come to find out later that wasn’t true.  However, I’ll be honest, I almost quit at this point as I started to get bored.  I will also mention what might have been a bug, but without a transcript (and Twine games do not make it easy to get one), I can’t be sure and I’m feeling to lazy to go back and try to reproduce….but there were a few points when walking through the house, that I seemed to magically move from one room to the other when I shouldn’t have been moving.  Could have been a bug, but perhaps I just missed something as by this point, I did find myself skimming a lot of text.

I managed to stick with this one a little longer and made it back to my bedroom where I started.  This is where the game took a weird twist, but one that I actually enjoyed for a bit and kept me intrigued enough to continue on.  The other character shows, up and the conversation with her is I feel some of the best writing in the game.  It felt relatively natural given the circumstances and I had to keep going. However, this continued on for a bit, we end up in another location, having the other girl magically transport us there and then it seems we have to go on another adventure to continue on.  It was at this point that I got bored and quit as it seems I was missing something and was somewhat stuck.  My fault I’m sure, but I just didn’t have the energy to continue on or replay to see what I may have missed.

Final Thoughts

Overall I didn’t think this one was that bad and in fact it was pretty good for a type of game I am typically not interested in.  I did spend some time during play trying to figure out what this was truly about.  I thought I had it figured out a few times, but I was never quite sure and perhaps I need to finish it to fully realize the point.  I thought for a bit it may have been about an abusive parent-child relationship, then I thought perhaps it had something to do with the loss the child feels from not having her father around, then I thought, perhaps it had something deeper going on with the girl being a mirror image of the main characters personality and soul, but then perhaps it was just a strange sci-fi story.  I may never know but I actually liked that this ones theme was difficult to pick out from the start.

Technically, I think it was well done in it’s use of the media…not the best I’ve seen, but some effort was made to make the appearance fit the general theme and feel of the story.  I didn’t find any show-stopping bugs, just a few minor ones that I mentioned earlier that may or may not actually be bugs. And there didn’t seem to be any major grammatical or structural issues, though I will at times overlook minor issues like this if I enjoy the story.

Overall, I think this has some potential, especially for those that enjoy choice-based games like this.  While I’m withholding my own scoring on this, at least for public consumption, and despite this being the first game I’ve played of this years crop so I have nothing else to base my prediction on,  I predict that this one should finish in the middle to upper middle range of the games.

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