IF Comp 2021: Review of “The Library”

October 23, 2021 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized)

For the second time, I found a game that…

  • described itself as choice-based but was parser at its heart (in my opinion).
  • I was unable to finish due to technical issues.

I love a magical library, and this one is great. I wouldn’t describe it as a “nightmare”. I mean, sure, you’re asleep—and you might commit a murder if the situation calls for it—but it was definitely funny and playful rather than scary or horrifying.

Unfortunately, the language isn’t flawless. This is probably another person writing in their second (or third, or very possibly fifth or more—being multilingual is SO COOL you guys) language. It’s ALMOST right most of the time (and I noticed that the first few adventures are slightly more polished than later chapters), and it’s usually easy to tell what the writer means and what is going on.

So it’s a significant flaw, but all it needs is a couple of intense drafts (probably by paid English speakers) to fix.

As I keep saying, I am allergic to parser. It makes me cry. And this game is parser trying very hard to feel natural. It doesn’t always succeed, but a big part of me appreciates the attempt—having buttons to choose instead of needing to type directions made things a lot easier for me.

But still, it’s parser, and my brain does NOT like that. I’m all about the story, not the puzzles. So I quickly headed over to the walkthrough, which worked really well for ALMOST the whole game. I hit a game-breaking bug quite early on, and restarted—but when I hit another one very close to the end I wasn’t willing to risk it happening a third time. Plus I felt I had a pretty good grasp on the game.

Game breaking bugs get a fail mark, and frequent language errors get another two points off. So at this point it scores 3.

But.

The central concept—taking items from one famous book to fix problems in another—is utterly brilliant, totally hilarious, and charmingly done. I can see the writer put a lot of thought into how the game works and what goes where. It made me wish I’d thought of the idea. I really enjoyed it.

So I’m giving it a 6, just like “Recon”. Two games that showed genuinely amazing potential but failed in both language and execution. This writer is definitely one to watch in years to come.

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