IF Comp 2021: Review of “Recon”

October 17, 2021 at 12:40 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been given some paid editing work, which is a bit too similar to reviewing games for my liking (sitting in a chair reading on my laptop and keeping my editor-brain engaged) BUT I’m still going to try to review five games.

I sorted the games into Choice-based games under 1 hour (parser makes me cry, and I know I can’t concentrate for more than an hour anytime soon). That gave me 12 games. I dropped “Fine Felines” on account of being the author; dropped “we, the remainder” thanks to the content warning (THANK YOU for not letting me wander into something traumatic); dropped “The Waiting Room” for being horror (I am a DELICATE FLOWER people!); dropped “extraordinary_fandoms.exe” for abusive stuff; “Weird Grief” for being about grief; “The Last Night of Alexisgrad” for being two-player; “Mermaids of Ganymede” for body horror, and “Walking Into It” for being puzzle-y.

That leaves “Universal Hologram” (6), “An Aside About Everything” (4), “The Golden Heist”(6), “Recon” (2), and “The Library” (3).

Five games, assuming I’m able to make them all work (which is highly unlikely; I’m remarkably bad at technical stuff). The numbers in brackets above indicate how many reviews each game has received and therefore the order in which I’ll attempt them.

I’m not looking at names, because (a) I’m extremely forgetful, so I might well not recognise the user name of someone I consider a friend, and that would be awkward, and (b) Less bias 🙂

So… RECON.

This is an intensely confusing game. The language is sufficiently mistake-filled that I sometimes can’t tell what the writer is trying to say. But an even worse thing, for me, is that the game is filled with puzzles. It’s not the writer’s fault that I hate puzzles with a fiery passion (to their credit, the writer provided a walkthrough—which I did use), but there should have been an indication of the game’s puzzly nature in the blurb.

So I’m inclined to give the game a failing mark of 3 stars (out of 10)… except it’s not the writer’s fault that I hate puzzles so much. So then I’d give it a 5. But despite the extremely flawed English, it’s clear that the writer is actually very very good. It’s an interesting and fully-realised setting, and there are lots of glimmers of brilliance here and there (in my first play-through I thought the black colour of the hyperlink on a certain page was an error and in the second I realised there was a plot reason to hide the button—neat). So in the end I’ll give it 6 for a brilliant but broken game. Hopefully the writer will keep improving their English because they’re a valuable addition to the IF world.

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