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Thursday, November 22, 2012

IF Comp 2012 Review - Transit

Uh oh, guys. It's another web one. I've got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The last one... not so good... not so comprehensible if you catch what I'm saying. But I shall keep an open mind. Lord knows there's been a lot of dreck written for Z-code and TADS while obviously there have been many many great games written for those platforms as well. I can't generalize about a medium based on one sample. What would Nate Silver say?? Anyway, let's see if we find Transit a "moving" experience. Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

Final Verdict : A fun if slight game. However much better than I was expecting. Definitely a decent example of competent CYOA.

Well that was refreshing! A fun and enjoyable game that I played through several times (because I kept dying) but never got bored with. I think part of the reason why I didn't mind dying so much in this game wheras I generally get highly annoyed by it in regular IF is that ChooseYourOwnAdventure games are so much easier to breeze through. It doesn't take long to get to the spot you needed to get to.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The premise is very simple. You're a traveler at an airport in a foreign land (we're never told which foreign land, which I sort of didn't mind because so many airports across the world are eerily similar (in my limited experience)). You are looking for your friend but can't find them anywhere. You have different places you can search: food court, bathroom, security check out, etc. There are also interesting and potentially deadly diversions for you to do on the way. You can grab something to eat at the food court, or you could enjoy a dangerously addictive soda from a vending machine near the entrance to the airport. 

Immediately the game world felt much more realized and, dare I say it, interactive. The face that the game remembered that I had already been to the food court, and I didn't have enough money to purchase another meal at the Asian restaurant was unexpected for this platform and greatly appreciated. 

I know. We've all been there.
The game bottlenecks around the security checkpoint where unbeknownst to the protagonist (though obvious to the reader) a strange man has planted drug paraphernalia on your jacket. The game doesn't give you an option to rid yourself of it before going through security (at least not that I could find) and the last few sequence of moves involve correctly guessing which branching path won't get you killed. The whole thing sort of tuns into a Dragon's Lair style experience, but it was so easy to get to that point upon restarting the game and the sequence itself was so relatively short that I didn't mind at all. If the entire game had consisted of such a mechanic I'd probably be singing a different tune. 

But as it was, I found the game to be an amusing and well written experience. Granted, I'm comparing it to the previous game which seemed to be written by Sybil. The game was also very short and frankly lacking any kind of emotional or narrative investment (we know next to nothing about this friend besides the fact that he can act as your translator and that he is a "he" (which by the way since we search for him in the men's room, I'm assuming that we are male? I was a bit disheartened by that decision since otherwise the protagonist is a complete blank slate. Either make the protagonist very specific or leave them genderless That's what I say!)). But for the medium, I found it surprisingly interactive and engaging on that front. So here's hoping that the other five entries in the web based categories follow Transit's example. 

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