IF Comp ’08 Review – David Batterham’s Opening Night!

October 6, 2008

[spoilers haven’t begun yet but if the IF crowd is going to be reading these I feel I should warn them I have a fairly filthy mouth]

I actually opened this game yesterday and thought it looked rather charming, but at the time I was somewhat distracted by the three extremely disgusting and sexually explicit conversations I was having in three different KoL chat channels. Oddly enough, Joan Jett featured prominently in all three, but only in /clan were her testicles anywhere near Willard Scott’s face. It was not the proper time to review what appeared to be a sweet, charming, old-fashioned IF game, is what I’m trying to get across here.

It is now Sunday night and I just got off the phone with my mom, who is being taken to the musical Hair for her sixtieth birthday and hopes she has seats right up front because when she saw it in ‘71 she was too far away from the nudity. There could not be a more appropriate time to play this game.

[okay, spoilers begin here, filthy mouth remains constant]

I saved up a month’s salary for this show? I hate doing things like that in real life because the pressure to have a good time is usually so great that it becomes really hard to actually have a good time.

The rotting banana peel appears to be the little tramp’s lifelong nemesis. I would like to know the backstory on that one.

Fragments of old sets lend the room elements of Greece, Verona, Paris and the Far East, in a way that looks almost too eclectic to be accidental.
I thought that about a hipster loft I went to a party at once. They had this potted plant… focus, damn you! You’re playing a game!

Huh. Well, the tramp’s happy now, but I’m not sure how that’s going to help me. Maybe I need to find nine other people and we can be a Chinese dragon together. The doorman won’t suspect a thing.

From the ABOUT: This game focuses on story rather than on puzzles. The few puzzles that exist should be relatively simple to solve.
*sigh* Where’s that walkthrough?

Oh duh. I am clearly not thinking slapstick enough.

Oooh, cloakroom. First instinct is to steal everything that’s not nailed down, but I am a poor but honest factory worker with a love for Broadway star Miranda Lily that is pure and true and unrequited, so I dunno. We’ll go with second instinct; steal everything the game allows me to steal.

Those belong to the other patrons of the theatre.
Dammit. Well, this seems like the sort of game in which nothing is superfluous, so I’m probably just here too early. If it were up to me, though, I would go through a few pockets until I’d at least recouped the month’s salary it cost me for the tickets.

Just sayin’.

Golly, one of those newfangled battery-powered flashlights! Mr. Edison certainly is outdoing himself these days, by jingo.

I want to sit on my seat. You know how the room description was all “you can see your seat here?” That is what I want to sit on. Not the carpet in the middle of the aisle. Not the guy in the seat next to mine. Not even the usher’s battery-powered flashlight. I just want to sit! For the love of God and all that is holy, can I not just sit?

That was a quick first act.

…a cellphone rings? Oh, I see, we are in the present. I wonder where this is going.

Oh no! Some unscrupulous bastard has stolen everyone’s coats! That is a terrible thing for them to have done! I certainly hope they are punished to the full extent of the law!

Wait, this gaping hole that the other patrons seem to be ignoring “almost as if it wasn’t there?” Are they simply being very casual about its presence or are they actually walking over it as though it were solid floor? Because that is an important distinction.

…well, that’s unusual. Huh… the wounded soldier has a ticket? (Yes, Jenni, the wounded soldier has a ticket. Maybe you’ll find out why if you shut up and play the damn game.)

Hmm. This is also unusual. I get the sense there is all sorts of metaphor or allegory or something in this game, which I am going to continue playing while I work out exactly how to feel about that.

…well, that’s depressing.

That is also depressing. Is the point of this game to be depressing? ‘Cause if I want to be depressed, I can go visit my great-aunt. Oh, wait, no, she died.

Yes. The point of this game is to be depressing. Thank you, game.

Riff and I are discussing it a bit now. He’s all “well, it was competent.” I definitely agree. Beyond the simple fact that nothing was broken in it, I give David Batterham credit for being able to construct a kickass sentence. I got the sense, reading his descriptions, that I was thinking and feeling exactly what he intended for me to think and feel (except for the bits about petty larceny, but I think about that on a near-constant basis. Also hot dog buns.)

This is not by any means a bad game. It’s just that… well, honestly, I’ve classed it as the weakest of the three games in my “good” category, along with Violet, which made me so happy to have played it that I am unable to express how much because I am not David Batterham, and Buried in Shoes, which hypothetically kicked my emotional teeth in (and, I hear, would have turned them into rubies and given them back to me, but I couldn’t handle playing it after I realized what it was about.) Also I am personally biased against things which wring tragedy out of showing you something wonderful and then destroying it, which is sort of presuming there even is another source of potential tragedy… know what? I just don’t enjoy being bummed out. I realize this is between me and my god and not strictly David Batterham’s fault, though.

Plus the ultimate point of “give things enough time and they will begin to suck” just doesn’t do it for me. I give this game an eight, which if you come back in twenty years will have degenerated into a four, unless it died of liver failure first.

Which it did.

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