IF Comp ’14 – Simon Deimel’s Enigma!

October 6, 2014

It’s nighttime, but I think I can handle Enigma.  I’ve got a bright light, a blanket, and a dude next to me in bed.  I hope he stops meditating soon so I can ask him his name and how he got in here.

Oh, shit, he left.  I am so fucked.

[spoilers begin here]

Huh, there is some kind of experimental premise I don’t entirely understand yet, about fully exploring a moment of time.

Linguistic consultant: Christine Wood.
Yes!  This!  All non-native speakers please do this!  I am so happy!
Testers: Andreas Mettler, inventive and nerdy. Sharareh Monfared, sensitive and bookish.
I, uh, hope they don’t mind being described this way.  I don’t know how I’d feel if I tested something and the credits said “Jenni Polodna, not particularly observant but thinks she’s funny.”

Please rest assured that the paragraphs in the story contain everything you need to know to progress.
That is reassuring, actually.  Consider me resting assured, although I am a little nervous about this bit:
There are violent images in this interactive story. Well, there will be.

>drop gun
You do not want to drop the gun without knowing why you are holding it.
But that’s exactly why I want to drop it!

I feel like the game really wants me to shoot this gun.  I, personally, do not want to.  Let’s see if there’s another way out of this.

Ah, okay, I have a lot of thinking to do about stuff, apparently.

He is your favorite fellow student.
That one’s a little wonky, Christine Wood, although I am trying to figure out how I’d put it myself and having a hard time.

The gameplay — think about something, then think about something revealed in the previous thought, repeat — is reminding me of that Simon Christiansen game where you’re basically Poirot.  Maybe all Simons are secretly the same Simon.  It could happen.

Also I am pretty sure that Tim murdered my sister but the game is being real coy with that information.  What noun does a girl gotta blow to advance some progress around here, game?

What is important at this moment?
The difference.
>think about difference
You cannot think about the difference without knowing what it is.
Thanks, game, that’s very deep.  Not at all helpful, but deep.

Ah, okay, had to X COTTAGE.

>think about death
Is death present?
>x death
You cannot recognize any object named like that in your field of vision.
No, death isn’t present.  I checked.

>x couch
You feel that it is time to face the truth. There is a body slumped on the sand-colored couch.
My reaction to this was “FINALLY,” which I think means the pacing could stand to be tweaked.

This game is really thoroughly implemented.  Almost everything I type in to think about has some sort of response, even if they may get a bit…
>think about answer
An answer is a reply to a question.
>think about question
A question should be followed by an answer.

Welp, I put the gun down, and I got shot.  What I really wanted to do was keep the gun trained on him while I called the cops, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t actually an option.

I’m going to call this one a six.  The deep implementation was definitely a plus, and the experimental format was fine if not earth-shattering.  The pacing was definitely slow, though; either the mystery needed to be deeper, the revelation needed to be quicker, or the required actions to progress needed to be looser — actually, that last one would be good no matter what.

I also had a lot of trouble caring about the characters because they’re so generic.  The author explains that the prose was kept deliberately sparse to avoid implementing tons of nouns, which would then need to be thinkable about.  This is totally fair, but I think there’s a happy medium somewhere that would give your sister a bit more characterization than “she was a friendly girl and you liked her.”

Edit from the future:  Hey wait a damn minute!  If she was strangled then why were there bloodstains on the rug?  I want my money back.


  1. Welp, I put the gun down, and I got shot. What I really wanted to do was keep the gun trained on him while I called the cops, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t actually an option.

    Yeah, ex-fucking-actly. Where do you put the “fucking” in that word? I feel like it should go inside the x but I don’t see how to type that.

    Anyway, yeah, I was like “Gosh, game, what any reasonable law-abiding person who’d had time to think about it would do in this situation is call the cops, and there’s even a mildly hinted verb (“LEAVE”) that corresponds to that, but you aren’t letting me take this action, so don’t be all HA HA NO UNDO FOR YOU YOU HAVE TO OWN YOUR CHOICE on me after that.”

    Ditto on the abstraction, too; the prose had to be deliberately sparse but it seemed like everything you had to enter was something abstract like “difference” or “traces of violence” rather than something concrete like “smashed-up pieces of whatever.”

    I am basically like all ditto ditto on your review here. This is why I don’t review the comp anymore, I just leave comments on other people’s reviews. Maybe I will sometime post a set of links to my comments on other people’s reviews. I don’t know if “Hey! You can pass by my parents’ house in this game!” counts. Not this game. A different game. You have to guess which one.

    I will disagree on one point which is I think the bloodstains came from the struggle for the gun, or maybe if you strangle someone you wind up bleeding a little bit, though that is the sort of fact I am happy to not actually know.

    • Oh God you’re probably right. I am happy to not know that either.

      (Ek-fucking-zactly? E>fucking<actly? Neither of those look very good.)

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